UN official hails China's help for needy

Updated: 2011-10-11 07:58

By Zhang Yuwei (China Daily)

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UNITED NATIONS - China's experience and "enormous progress" in emergency preparedness and disaster risk reduction provide a good example for the rest of the world, said a senior UN official.

Valerie Amos, a former British diplomat who heads the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), will visit Shanghai and Beijing from Oct 11 to 17 before leaving for the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

UN official hails China's help for needy

Before setting off for China, Amos spoke with China Daily and other Chinese media at the UN headquarters in New York on China's role and contribution to the world body's humanitarian assistance efforts.

"China has always been a good partner in the UN system as a whole," said Amos, adding that China's contribution to the organization's humanitarian efforts "has grown over the years".

Last year, China gave about $11 million to the Haiti earthquake relief effort and $18 million to help tackle the flooding crisis in Pakistan, said Amos, who became the under-secretary-general for OCHA last September.

During the trip, her first to China, Amos will attend a regional partnership meeting in Shanghai and meet officials from key ministries, which she described as a good opportunity for her to "explore possibilities for sharing knowledge and experiences as well as to discuss ways that OCHA is working to become more effective as an organization".

"I particularly want the trip to focus on preparedness and disaster risk reduction. China has done a huge amount of work internally on this, and I think we can benefit in the region and globally from China's experience," said Amos.

"The meetings (in China) will be about how we see the challenges going forward for our humanitarian system as a whole - both in terms of the scale and depth of disasters," she added.

Amos said the OCHA can build on China's experience and enormous progress in dealing with preparedness and disaster risk reduction nationally and utilize that experience regionally and globally.

"And I really want to explore with the Chinese authorities how we can do that," said Amos.

She also praised China's continuing effort in helping countries in need - the most recent case being the Horn of Africa.

"China is one of our key partners, responded very quickly and has been very supportive," said Amos.

An estimated 13 million people in Somalia, Kenya, Ethiopia and Djibouti in the Horn of Africa are facing severe food shortages caused by drought, according to the UN.

Somalia is bearing the brunt of the most severe food crisis in Africa. About 3.6 million people, half of the country's population, are at risk of starvation. More than half of all Somali children are malnourished, with six infants dying from malnutrition every day.

At a recent UN ministerial summit on the Horn of Africa crisis, Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi announced a donation of $70 million in emergency grain aid and financial support, including a $16 million donation to the World Food Programme to support famine-relief operations in Somalia.