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WFP Creates Emergency Aid Hubs To Improve Disaster Response

File photo: Food aid and supplies are delivered to Indonesia following a devastating earthquake earlier this year. Photo courtesy of AFP.
by Staff Writers
Nairobi (AFP) Oct 4, 2006
The UN World Food Programme (WFP) on Wednesday announced the creation of a global network of emergency aid depots to speed responses to the growing number of humanitarian emergencies around the world. The agency said the five hubs -- in Africa, Europe, the Middle East, Asia and Latin America -- would be stocked with "strategic supplies of relief goods and equipment" that could be delivered to crisis zones within 48 hours.

"The network is designed to meet the escalating challenges of sudden humanitarian emergencies which can sometimes strike almost simultaneously," WFP said in a statement released in the Kenyan capital.

The hubs will be modelled on the existing UN Humanitarian Response Depot (UNHRD) in the southern Italian town of Brindisi that was created in June 2000 and has since proved a huge boon to humanitarian relief, it said.

"Over the last six years, the logistical support from the Brindisi hub made a significant difference in the speed and efficiency of emergency response," said UNHRD network coordinator Giuseppe Saba.

He noted that the Brindisi depot greatly assisted disaster response to the Indian Ocean tsunami, earthquakes in Iran and Pakistan, as well as conflicts in Afghanistan, Lebanon and Sudan's troubled western Darfur region.

"By positioning critical supplies around the globe, there is no doubt that we will be able to help people more rapidly and more effectively -- very possibly, making the difference between life and death," Saba said.

The network will include the Brindisi depot as well as new hubs in Ghana, Dubai, Panama and Malaysia, WFP said in the statement released during a Human Development Summit in Nairobi.

"By establishing a presence in strategic corners of the world, we are taking a further key step towards enhancing further our performance in assisting those in need," said WFP transport director Ramiro Lopes da Silva.

earlier related report
UN Sets Up Fund To Reduce Effects Of Natural Disasters

The United Nations on Tuesday launched a five million dollar (3.9 million euro) fund to reduce the effects of natural disasters in 35 particularly vulnerable poor countries. The money will be used to build earthquake-proof buildings, set up tsunami warning systems or to move people out of flood-prone zones, for example.

The fund was launched in collaboration with the World Bank, said the director of the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (ISDR), Salvano Briceno.

The ISDR has identified 35 countries which are particularly vulnerable to natural disasters and will launch the fund by financing projects in five of them, Nicaragua, Malawi, Mozambique, Nepal and Vietnam, Briceno said.

The United Nations hopes that governments of donor countries will provide a total 35 million dollars (27.6 million euros) a year to the new fund. Britain has already pledged eight million dollars (6.3 million), the ISDR official said.

Source: Agence France-Presse

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Islamabad (AFP) Oct 04, 2006
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