H.E. Mr. Jean Ping
ON THE OCCASION OF THE REOPENING OF THE PROCEEDINGS OF THE SESSION
NEW YORK - 18 JANUARY 2005
The Assembly is today resuming its work in an atmosphere of sorrow following the earthquake and the resulting tsunami that struck South and South-East Asia and part of the coast of Africa along the Indian Ocean on 26 December. According to figures that unfortunately remain provisional, over 175,000 people were killed - half of whom were children - and 1 million persons have been displaced, with 5 million injured and immeasurable ecological damage. I would like to take this opportunity to reiterate my most sincere condolences to the families of the victims, Governments and peoples of the States so tragically affected.
The frequency and scope of catastrophes in recent years - from the Mediterranean
to the Caribbean, and from Africa to Asia - now more than ever call upon
us to provide assistance, as well as once again attesting to the need
to coordinate humanitarian assistance and establish a worldwide early
warning mechanism. We should welcome the exceptional manner in which the
international community has mobilized itself to deal with the tragedy
in the Indian Ocean. I hope that all pledges made will be honoured, with
a view to assisting affected countries as they endeavour to recover.
Although it is true that we cannot always predict how nature will change, we can nevertheless today adopt the necessary measures to anticipate changes and manage their destructive effects. In that connection, the World Conference on Disaster Reduction, which opened today in Kobe, Japan, is a timely event.
I am pleased that the draft resolution put forth by the Lao People's
Democratic Republic on behalf of the countries of the Association of Southeast
Asian Nations emphasizes in particular the need to step up our efforts
to provide the United Nations with an efficient mechanism to coordinate
efforts by the international community to provide emergency humanitarian
assistance as well as disaster-related early warning, prevention and mitigation.
I am convinced that, by adopting the draft resolution, we will be taking
a decisive step towards achieving that essential goal.