DR. ARUN KASHYAP: Regional Meeting on Enhancing International Humanitarian Partnerships in Latin America and the Caribbean

Oct 16, 2013

On behalf of the United Nations System in Jamaica, it is a pleasure for me to welcome you all to the Regional Meeting on Enhancing International Humanitarian Partnerships in Latin America and the Caribbean.

In responding to a disaster it is normal for the first responders to be overwhelmed by the event and the limited information available to effectively respond. It becomes more difficult in the appropriate coordination mechanisms have not been pre-established and are familiar to responding agencies. The lack of coordination often results in the duplication of relief efforts, delay in the delivery of good and services and a heightened sense of anxiety within the recipient community.

The need for coordination is important as those involved in humanitarian response are often required to operate in an unfamiliar environment. It is only by understanding the roles, strengths and resources available and the terms of use or protocol of each agency that a coordinated response can be undertaken. This understanding is facilitated through the four basic requirements for meaningful coordination, which are: Information Sharing; Task Division; Planning, and Dialogue. Of these four, perhaps the most important is dialogue, as it is through meaningful dialogue that the other requirements can be achieved. This ability and willingness to communicate reduces areas of tensions, enhances information flow and ultimately benefits those for whom the relief is intended. This provision of relief is one of the key components of the work of the humanitarian community as increasingly the international humanitarian community is being called on to respond to varied and complex emergencies, and therefore has had to adapt to the changing humanitarian landscape.

The international humanitarian emergencies have ranged from humanitarian intervention in Afghanistan, Iraq, DRC and Sudan, and the UN and its partners have had to deliver more aid with greater efficiency. With natural disasters such as the Indian Ocean Tsunami in 2004, the South Asia Earthquake in 2005 and the Haiti Earthquake in 2010, there is undoubtedly greater recognition within the international community that an effective response is largely dependent on the collective capacity of the humanitarian community.

It is in this regard that OCHA is to be complimented for conceiving the concept of the MIAH which seeks to enhance the coordination between humanitarian actors in the field. Locally the United Nations Emergency Technical Team plays an important role in coordinating relief efforts at the local level. Last year in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy this team mobilized and provided information to the various embassies, missions and other donor groups both nationally and regionally. Additionally it coordinated the delivery of relief supplies to the Ministry of Health and the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management. Had a state of disaster been declared this team would coordinate it activities with other national and regional players to ensure that a coordinated response was undertaken by the donor agencies working in tandem with the national government. Here we see the OCHA Regional Office in Panama as playing a critical role. The goals of the MIAH are therefore manifested in a tangible manner through the national and regional response activities undertaken by OCHA and other humanitarian partners.

We therefore commend OCHA for this practical expression of goodwill in seeking to develop with partners a holistic approach to the issue of coordination and the elimination of competition which has in the past hindered the response to national disasters.

In the spirit of the South-South cooperation, this regional meeting is also an opportunity to build a stronger partnership among regional actors including countries and sub-regional organizations such as the Specialized Meeting for Disaster Risk Reduction, Civil Defense, Civil Protection and Humanitarian Assistance (REHU), Centre for the Coordination of Natural Disaster Prevention in Central America (CEPREDENAC), Andean Committee for Disaster Prevention and Response (CAPRADE) and Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA). In that sense, the UN System and particularly under the 46/182 resolution mandate has a major role to play to ensure appropriate and adequate coordination. This meeting will also help to improve the relation and collaboration between international professional humanitarian partners and local government.

The United Nations System in Jamaica stands ready to help the Government and people of Jamaica in whatever way we are needed. This Regional Meeting on Enhancing International Humanitarian Partnerships in Latin America and the Caribbean supports the UN’s overarching goal of achieving the targets of the Millennium Development Goals and ensuring that there is sustainable development beyond 2015. The assistance being given to Jamaica will help to further put the country on a path to realizing the Vision 2030 Jamaica, and thus truly make Jamaica ‘the place of choice to live, work, raise families and do business’. -END-

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