19 October 2013 Leaders from 22 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean have committed to further enhance regional cooperation in disaster preparedness and humanitarian response during a United Nations-supported meeting hosted in Kingston by the Government of Jamaica.
“Millions of people are affected every year by floods, earthquakes and hurricanes, as well as the impact of rapid urbanization and climate change,” said UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Valerie Amos, who participated in the annual forum.
“Jamaica and other countries have made great strides by strengthening legal frameworks, promoting risk reduction strategies, and improving emergency preparedness and response systems. This has made a real difference on the ground,” she added.
The three-day meeting, which was supported by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and concluded on Friday, was aimed at improving humanitarian coordination mechanisms through building stronger collaboration between governments and the humanitarian community.
Regional leaders and representatives from humanitarian agencies adopted a Plan of Action to support countries and regional organizations in partnership with civil society and the private sector, to strengthen early warning systems, preparedness and response across the region.
They also agreed to support the establishment of a Regional Logistics Centre for Humanitarian Assistance for the Americas in Panama, and a sub-regional hub in Jamaica, to allow for greater efficiency and management of regional and international humanitarian supplies and for fast and effective delivery of assistance in disaster situations in the region.
“We agreed that to meet the challenges of humanitarian crises we need to use communications technology, use the experience of the corporate sector, and better engage with communities themselves, to improve the way we work,” noted Ms. Amos, who is also UN Emergency Relief Coordinator.
The Plan of Action, she noted, encourages governments to seek more effective partnerships with the private sector, international organizations, civil society and community-based organizations to reduce inequality and increase efforts with the most vulnerable in society, including children, women, the elderly and people with disabilities.
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