22 April 2009 Wrapping up a visit to China today, the top United Nations relief official praised the East Asian nation’s disaster preparedness and recovery efforts as the first anniversary of the devastating Wenchuan earthquake neared.
During his two-day trip, John Holmes, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, met with top officials and reiterated his sympathy for those affected by the disaster, which struck the country on 12 May 2008 and left nearly 100,000 people either dead or missing.
In his talks with authorities, he encouraged the Government to take a greater role in multilateral humanitarian efforts, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).
There was agreement on the need to step up UN-China cooperation on curbing disaster risk and bolstering preparedness, especially in the context of climate change, OCHA said.
Increased collaboration between the world body and China was another major topic, particularly during a meeting Mr. Holmes had with Chen Jianmin, Director of the China Earthquake Administration.
At the closing of the International Conference on Gender and Disaster Risk Reduction held in Beijing, Mr. Holmes stressed that “the poor, especially poor women, suffer the most from the impact of disasters, due both to their greater vulnerability and to their lesser capacity to address the disaster risks they live with.”
Mr. Holmes called for greater emphasis to be placed on national and regional capacity-building, calling this a “win-win approach” to tackling cross-cutting humanitarian and developmental issues.
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