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Red Cross Calls For Stronger Alliances To Fight Disasters

National societies should develop a disaster management resource database based on guidelines established by the International Federation, delegates said.
by Staff Writers
Singapore (AFP) Nov 23, 2006
The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement on Thursday called for stronger alliances and cooperation in the Asia Pacific to improve help for victims in the world's most disaster-prone region. Markku Niskala, secretary general of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, said that "scaling up our work and strategic partnerships" was needed to reduce deaths and injuries from disease and disasters.

"We need to find new and better ways of working together, building strong partnerships and mobilizing resources in order to tackle vulnerability, especially in a disaster-prone area like Asia and the Pacific," he said at the close of a four-day conference in Singapore.

The conference gathered more than 200 representatives from 60 Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies from the Asia Pacific and Middle East regions to map out a strategy in dealing more effectively with disasters.

In an end-of-meeting declaration, delegates stressed the need to "further develop current regional coordination mechanisms in disaster preparedness, contingency planning and response to get the maximum benefits out of the region's combined considerable strengths."

National societies should develop a disaster management resource database based on guidelines established by the International Federation, delegates said.

Such a database should be easily accessible and constantly updated as an "operational tool for disaster response," the declaration said.

Delegates also called for transparency and accountability in disbursing donations by adhering to established international standards and a code of ethics.

Lack of coordination among aid agencies and allegations of government corruption have marred humanitarian relief efforts in major disasters such as the December 2004 tsunami.

Among the other commitments made at the conference were boosting volunteer networks and making health care more accessible.

Sixty percent of the world's disasters happen in the Asia Pacific, with tensions and conflict exacerbating the situation, International Federation officials have said.

In one of the deadliest natural disasters ever, more than 220,000 people died in December 2004 when a tsunami struck Indonesia and other nations around the Indian Ocean.

Another 74,000 people died and 3.5 million were left homeless from a massive South Asian earthquake in October 2005.

This year disasters continued their destruction when a landslide in the Philippines, an earthquake and tsunami in Indonesia, and a typhoon that lashed China and Vietnam claimed thousands more lives.

"The future of our movement lies in entrusting youth volunteers to contribute to our wide spectrum of services for vulnerable people," said Winston Choo, chairman of the Singapore Red Cross Society and conference host.

"We also need to expand our fundraising base by better engaging the corporate sector and the general public."

Source: Agence France-Presse

Related Links
International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies
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