USG Briefing - Recent Natural Disasters in the Asia /Pacific Region
Tuesday 6 October, ECOSOC Chamber 3pm,
New Zealand Comments by Tony Fautua
Thank you very much Under Secretary General Holmes, we are very pleased that you and your team have organised such a timely briefing for all member states on the devastating series of natural disasters that have afflicted the Asia Pacific region.
We would like to start by offering our sincere condolences to our neighbours in the region: Samoa, American Samoa, Tonga, Indonesia and the Philippines who have been devastated by tsunamis, earthquakes and typhoons in the past week. All these catastrophes only highlight the increased risks and vulnerability of the Asia Pacific region where natural disasters have become part of our daily lives.
For our part, New Zealand has supported humanitarian agencies responding in the immediate aftermath of each of these natural disasters.
New Zealand provided an initial $1 million donation for immediate disaster relief efforts in Samoa and Tonga, distributed through the Red Cross movement and non-governmental organisations. We have since contributed a further $1 million to relief efforts in Tonga and Samoa, taking the total cash contribution to $2 million.
In Samoa, New Zealand has also contributed significant NZ Defence Force assets to assist with damage assessment, delivery of vehicles and helicopters, and transporting emergency supplies. NZ civilian and Defence medical teams, engineers, and police are also working alongside Samoa’s National Disaster Management Office (NDMO).
The United Nations Disaster Assessment and Coordination (UNDAC) team is assisting the NDMO in Samoa and has launched cluster groups working in areas such as water/sanitation, education, shelter and health. New Zealand fully supports this cluster approach and would like to remind the cluster teams that their work must be fully embed in the Samoan system and take their cues from the Samoan Government.
In Tonga, New Zealand has coordinated its relief response under the FRANZ (France, Australia, New Zealand) disaster relief agreement. Emergency supplies from the three FRANZ partners have been delivered to the affected areas by a French navy vessel and Tongan patrol boats.
In Indonesia, New Zealand has announced an initial support package of NZ$600,000 targeted at the front line of emergency relief assistance through two agencies: Indonesia Red Cross (via IFRC) and SurfAID International. SurfAID International is a New Zealand non government organisation working out of Padang with whom NZAID has a long working relationship.
For Typhoon Ketsana, support was provided to the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent societies for countries affected by the Typhoon. A NZ member on the United Nations Disaster Assessment Centre standby roster was deployed in support of the Philippines response.
New Zealand stands ready to continue to work along side our Asia/ Pacific neighbours, the United Nations and other humanitarian and development agencies to assist with the transition from disaster relief to early recovery.