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Statement by Ambassador Zhang Yishan at ECOSOC Substantive Session of 2005 on Humanitarian Affairs Segment
(13 July 2005)

2005/07/13

Mr. President,

The Chinese delegation would like to thank the Secretary-General for the three reports he submitted under the segment on humanitarian affairs. We would also like to thank Mr. Egeland, Under Secretary-General and the Emergency Relief Coordinator, for his introductory remarks. We support the statement made by the representative of Jamaica on behalf of the Group of 77 and China and I'd like to take this opportunity to make some comments on this item.

Mr. President,

The Indian Ocean tsunami at the end of last year was a catastrophe affecting the whole mankind. With the active response from many countries, including China, to the relief appeal launched by the United Nations, the international community carried out an unprecedented emergency humanitarian relief operation, in which the United Nations played an important leading and coordinating role. As a result of the joint efforts of the international community and governments of the affected countries over the past half-year or so, the relief work is gradually proceeding towards recovery and reconstruction. We deem it highly necessary for this session of the ECOSOC to hold a panel discussion on "Lessons learned from the recent Indian Ocean earthquake/tsunami disaster" because such a discussion will facilitate the exchange of experience in disaster relief among all parties.

My delegation has noted that the Secretary-General's reports have reviewed the situation over the past year in the field of humanitarian assistance, including natural disasters and armed conflicts, the issues of refugees and IDPs, the spread of HIV/AIDS and other major diseases, etc. The reports have made a fairly systematic analysis of these issues and have put forward recommendations on strengthening the coordination and capacity-building of humanitarian assistance. My delegation supports the ECOSOC in setting as the theme for this year's consideration of the segment on humanitarian affairs "Strengthening of the coordination of the United Nations humanitarian assistance, including capacity as well as organizational aspects". We believe that it is extremely important to improve coordination and strengthen capacity-building in this field.

Mr. President,

In recent years, there have been a growing number of organizations and agencies involved in humanitarian relief work in various parts of the world. They include the United Nations and other international organizations, regional organizations, civil society and the military. In the view of the Chinese delegation, OCHA should further strengthen the coordination of and guidance for the relief work under this situation so as to give full play to the comparative advantages of various relief agencies, achieve the optimal utilization of available resources and avoid to the extent possible duplications and waste. In providing humanitarian assistance, the United Nations and the international community should strictly follow the guiding principle of "humanity, neutrality and impartiality" set forth by the GA resolution 46/182 and carry out humanitarian relief operations on the basis of consent of the countries affected.

Mr. President,

Emergency humanitarian assistance needs substantial financial support. The Consolidated Appeal Process (CAP) established in the 1990s is an important way of resource mobilization by the United Nations and has played a significant role in providing humanitarian assistance to countries and regions affected by natural disasters and complex emergencies. However, in recent years, there has been a steady decline of the amount of humanitarian assistance resources raised through this mechanism. This is indeed a worrisome development. Take this year for example, under the CAP for 14 African countries, funds received by 8 of them by the end of May did not even reach 20% of the total amount planned. The serious shortage of funds has negatively affected the post-disaster reconstruction and other relevant activities of those countries. The Chinese delegation hopes that OCHA would intensify its resource mobilization activities and calls on the developed countries with the capability to do so to increase their contributions in a humanitarian spirit in order to help mitigate the suffering of the affected peoples and help them overcome difficulties and resume normal life as early as possible.

Mr. President,

As a country prone to natural disasters, China often suffers from earthquakes, flood and draught, which every year result in huge losses in terms of the people's life and property as well as national economy. In spite of that, the Chinese government did its part as a friendly neighbor of the tsunami affected countries by providing $20 million worth of assistance in cash and kind through the UN system. Apart from that, my government has also provided through bilateral channels emergency humanitarian assistance to some developing countries within our capabilities as an expression of our sympathy and concern for the governments and peoples of the affected countries. The Chinese government will further strengthen its cooperation with OCHA and is willing to make its due contribution to the joint efforts of all countries in helping the affected countries to overcome disaster and rebuild their homes.

Thank you, Mr. President.

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