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ASEAN shares in honoring humanists on Humanitarian Day: Surin

08-20-2012 11:40 BJT

JAKARTA, Aug. 19 (Xinhua) -- The Secretary General of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) Surin Pitsuwan said that the region stands in solidarity with the rest of humankind in celebrating the World Humanitarian Day that falls on Aug. 19.

ASEAN people share in honoring men and women who have devoted their energy, committed their time, and on many occasions sacrificed their safety and their very lives in order to help others in need, a statement released by the ASEAN Secretariat said on Sunday.

Beyond their devotion, Surin said that humanitarians are faced with daunting challenges and complex human tragedy. Human suffering steadily increases as typhoons, earthquakes, and other environmental hazards destroy entire communities and claim lives. Whole populations continue to be displaced and threatened as a result of human conflicts.

The ASEAN chief said that the region is increasingly vulnerable to such threats, with the number and scale of disasters increasing both in frequency and severity. Citing an example, he said that the Philippines had just been drenched by relentless rains from the monsoon, flooding entire cities and towns in Central Luzon and Metro Manila a few weeks ago.

Besides natural disasters, ASEAN is also not spared from the ravages of human conflict, resulting in thousands of displacements across the region, he added.

"In the face of such challenges, ASEAN believes in the humanitarian imperative. Indeed we should all embrace the spirit of helping, not only as a matter of policy but also as normal practice and our guiding ethos," he said in the statement.

The spirit of helping is also inspired in the ASEAN Charter spirit that suggests "one caring and sharing community", promoting a "people-oriented ASEAN" and "upholding international humanitarian law", according to Surin.

"We have also been proactive in fostering regional cooperation and building capacity to deal with various kinds of natural and human-induced disasters. In December 2009, the ASEAN Agreement on Disaster Management and Emergency Response (AADMER) entered into force. We went two steps further: first by producing a Work Program in 2010 as a set of actionable steps for the realization of the regional treaty, and second by establishing the ASEAN Coordinating Centre for Humanitarian Assistance (AHA Centre) in 2011 as the operational engine of AADMER," he said.

ASEAN's capacity for humanitarian response has actually been tested at the height of Cyclone Nargis, which struck Myanmar in May 2008 and rendered 140,000 loss of lives.

ASEAN's leading role in facilitating humanitarian response has contributed valuable lessons for the realization of AADMER as the region's own framework for humanitarian action.

In 2009, the ASEAN Leaders assigned Surin as the ASEAN Humanitarian Assistance Coordinator, for both natural disasters and pandemics, reaffirming ASEAN's priority on humanitarian actions as many institutions and governments add up their involvement as well.

The AADMER itself has been greatly enriched by the support of the AADMER Partnership Group (APG), which is a "banding together" of non-government organizations.



Editor:James |Source: Xinhua

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