23 December 2008 The United Nations disaster management team was kept busy this year by the rise in hurricanes, floods and other natural disasters caused by extreme weather as well as by increased demand from Governments worldwide for disaster-awareness training.
Sixty-seven countries, including Spain and the United Arab Emirates which joined this year, are now part of the UN Disaster Assessment and Coordination (UNDAC) system to better manage emergency relief after natural disasters strike, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said today in a press release.
“This ensures that more of the world’s disaster managers are available to the international community to share their valuable knowledge and expertise on how to prepare for and respond to disasters,” said Arjun Katoch, head of OCHA’s Emergency Services Branch.
In 2008, UNDAC – which helps disaster-stricken countries rapidly assess priority needs and coordinate relief on-site – sent teams of disaster-management professionals to 16 areas, including 10 stricken by floods and hurricanes.
UNDAC also organized disaster-awareness training programmes in Russia for members of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) and in the Middle East. Next year, it will organize training for the West African region. All countries who join the UNDAC system must receive the training.
UNDAC has deployed 183 missions since its inception in 1993, including five missions to tsunami-affected countries in late 2004 and early 2005, and to Pakistan after an earthquake hit there in October 2005.
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