Asian nations to tackle natural disasters

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The recent Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) meeting with its Asian Regional Forum (ARF) counterparts here adopted a proposal to develop guidelines for civilian and military cooperation to ensure swift response to natural disasters in the region.

The guidelines, to be consistent with existing UN and ASEAN mechanisms on disaster management and emergency response, will form the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) on civilian and military cooperation for humanitarian purposes.

I think it is among the most important portion of the statement issued,

said M C Abad, head of ARF unit for ASEAN member states.

The proposal includes taking an inventory of transport capabilities of the region’s armed forces that can be used for humanitarian operations in the aftermath of a calamity.

It will allow for the use of military assets of ARF members for disaster relief. ARF member countries will have  a database of these assets for use by both civilian and military personnel within the ARF participating countries,

Abad said.

ASEAN secretary-general Ong Keng Yong welcoming the latest development said disaster preparedness measures has been top of its agenda since the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami, which killed some 250,000 people around Asia’s shorelines. Most of the activities, working plans have all been tested out, he said.  Our region is a disaster-prone region, facing many natural disasters.”

ASEAN member countries have agreed on the establishment of a ‘standby force’ comprising of military, police and civil defense personnel that can be deployed swiftly after a disaster.

ARF countries will promote coordination among donors, relief agencies and the global community in carrying out rehabilitation and reconstruction work, and coordinating with national disaster warning centers.

The center will also take measures to identify regional disaster risks and the capabilities to manage these dangers and share information on them.

The proposal is timely and urgent following a spate of major natural disasters around the region, especially recent volcanic eruptions in the Philippines and Indonesia.

The ARF grouping includes the US, Russia, Canada, China, Japan, South Korea, India and the EU countries together with its ASEAN counterparts.

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