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UN humanitarian officials review lessons learned in responding to Haiti quake

07-16-2010 15:39 BJT

UNITED NATIONS, July 15 (Xinhua) -- A new report released here Thursday by the Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC), titled the Haiti Earthquake Response Six Month Report, evaluated the response of humanitarian organizations to the Jan. 12 disaster and recommended improved coordination between citizens and humanitarian entities to make future responses more effective.

The IASC is a forum that brings UN and non-UN humanitarian organizations together to discuss policy and allocate responsibilities.

"We owe it to the devastated population of Haiti and to all of the communities affected by disasters to act on the lessons identified in this report with speed and determination and to go on working constantly to improve our response," John Holmes, UN under-secretary-general for humanitarian affairs and emergency relief coordinator said at the launch of the report.

Holmes explained that though the humanitarian operations in Haiti resulted in more successes than failures, the agencies involved sometimes failed to involve the local Haitian authorities when doing so would have been very helpful. Especially in the initial phases of response to a disaster, the report indicates, local knowledge is indispensable to coordinating operations from the outside.

"The humanitarian community simply cannot afford not to work with national and local structures to the fullest extent possible, however daunting at times this cooperation may be," Holmes said.

Another theme of the report was the need to enforce the underlying infrastructure systems that were weak in Haiti before the earthquake hit.

"The biggest lesson of all remains the need to reduce the risk of disasters before they happen through measures like enforced building codes, and to prepare for them more systematically, not just to respond effectively to them afterwards," Holmes said. "If building back Haiti better means anything, it means making sure its people are never again as vulnerable to disaster as so many were on the 12th of January, 2010."

Editor:Jin Lin |Source: Xinhua

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