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Statement by H.E. Ambassador LIU Zhenmin, Deputy Permanent Representative of China to the United Nations, at the 62nd Session of the General Assembly on Agenda Item 71 "Strengthening of the Coordination of Humanitarian and Disaster Relief Assistance of the United Nations, Including Special Economic Assistance"
New York, 19 November 2007

2007/11/19

Mr. President,

The Chinese delegation wishes to thank the Secretary General for his reports provided under this agenda item. Now I would like to make some comments on this agenda item.

Over the past year, frequent natural disasters have caused enormous human and economic losses to the governments and peoples of affected countries. In 2006, the world suffered from 427 such disasters which caused the loss of 23,000 lives, disrupted the normal lives of 143 million people, and resulted in economic damages in the value close to $20 billion. Since the beginning of this year, the UN system has launched as many as 15 humanitarian flash appeals, breaking the record for the same period in previous years. The UN humanitarian relief work is now facing increasingly daunting challenges.

Mr. President,

Since Emergency Disaster Relief was inaugurated in 2004 in response to the Indian Ocean tsunami, the leading and coordinating role of the UN in international humanitarian assistance activities has gained increasing attention. With the wide and in-depth participation of more and more countries, international organizations, the private sector, and NGOs in international humanitarian assistance, how to further enhance coordination and make full and effective use of resources to maximize the benefit has become a new and arduous task confronting the UN.

The Chinese delegation believes that there are mainly two aspects to the enhancement of coordination. The first is the coordination within the UN system. Many UN departments and agencies involved in humanitarian assistance activities have different competences, scopes of operation, areas of focus and comparative advantages. They complement each other but also have a certain degree of overlap. It is therefore necessary to strengthen inter-agency coordination, improve overall planning of humanitarian activities, clarify division of labor, and enhance efficiency of operation and cost effectiveness in resource use. The second aspect is the coordination of relief activities provided by the whole international community. In this respect, the UN plays an irreplaceable role. We welcome the building of partnerships between the UN and relevant countries, international institutions and NGOs, with a view to achieving better information sharing and broadening areas of cooperation.

In relief activities, the government of the affected country bears the primary responsibility for organizing, initiating, coordinating and implementing external relief assistance. By the same token, it should play a leading role in receiving emergency humanitarian assistance, as well as during the transition from relief to development. When providing humanitarian assistance to the affected countries, the UN should always adhere to the principles of "humanity, neutrality and impartiality" , respect their sovereignty, enhance communication and collaboration with their governments, fully utilize their existing relief mechanisms, and take the need of the affected governments and peoples as a guidance in organizing and coordinating international humanitarian assistance.

Mr. President,

In recent years, OCHA has worked tirelessly to assess disaster situations, appeal for donation, and organize and coordinate emergency humanitarian assistance worldwide. The Chinese delegation expresses its appreciation to the Office and supports the further strengthening of OCHA's leading and coordinating role in international humanitarian assistance activities. It is our hope that OCHA will continue to actively cooperate with the governments of affected countries and provide necessary guidance and assistance to humanitarian actors at all levels.

Since its launch in March last year, the Central Emergency Response Fund has provided timely and effective relief assistance to some major natural disasters and emergencies, thus playing a positive role in improving resource allocation and utilization, and in helping some previously neglected countries and regions hit by disasters to gain access to humanitarian assistance. The Chinese delegation calls upon all governments, those of developed countries in particular, to contribute generously to the Fund in order to reach the target of mobilizing $500 million for 2008.

Mr. President,

Greater international and regional cooperation is one of the effective means to help disaster-prone countries to upgrade their capacity for disaster preparedness, reduction and response. The UN should attach importance to facilitating such cooperation, offer technical and financial assistance to highly disaster-prone countries to help them gradually establish early warning systems and enhance their capacity to prepare for, reduce and respond to emergencies, so as to ensure that humanitarian relief helps to address both the symptoms and the root causes of natural disasters.

Mr. President,

China, a developing country, is no stranger to natural disasters. We know first hand what suffering and economic losses natural disasters bring to the affected peoples and countries. My country is hit by various kinds of natural disasters every year, so it is the perennial task of governments at all levels to prepare for and reduce disasters and provide emergency disaster relief, which has entailed huge economic burdens on the government. The Chinese government attaches great importance to international cooperation in the field of humanitarian assistance. It has actively participated in international humanitarian relief activities in response to the request of affected countries and the appeals of the international community. This year, the Chinese government has given timely humanitarian assistance within its capacity, both in cash and kind, to many affected countries through bilateral channels, among them Pakistan, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Madagascar, Sudan, Greece, to name just a few. These above examples fully demonstrate the sympathy, support and concern of the Chinese government and people for affected governments and peoples. My government will continue as always to support the efforts of the UN and the international community in disaster prevention, reduction and relief, and stands ready to help affected countries to overcome disasters and rebuild their homes.

Thank you, Mr. President.

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