Your Majesty, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
At the outset, on behalf of the Royal Government and the people of Cambodia, I would like to take this opportunity to express profound condolences to the governments and people of all countries, especially Indonesia, the host of this Special Summit, who has been severely destroyed by the Disaster including the great loss of hundreds of thousands of lives and properties caused by this tsunami. I would like to thank the Prime Minister of Singapore for taking the initiative of convening this summit timely and to the Prime Minister of Indonesia for its excellent arrangements.
Indeed, this tsunami is not the biggest in recorded history, but the effects may be the biggest ever in our contemporary history as there are increased population and the frequent outbreak of natural disaster in exposed areas than ever before. Hundreds of thousands of people died and millions were made homeless and lost all kind of property.
In this circumstance, providing timely emergency relief to affected people on the ground effectively and efficiently is very critical. Cambodia has responded with a symbolic gesture of assistance during the first day when this tragic event unfolded. Cambodia is ready to cooperate with all international partners, as much as we can, to cope with necessary needs in this emergency relief operation.
For this meeting I would like to briefly elaborate all issues as follows:
Firstly, Coordination of Emergency Relief Assistance: We have seen instant and active responses from all levels in the world to this disaster. With great damages and emergency relief needs and the flow of humanitarian aids from everywhere, we have noticed a sine qua non for a coordination response: (i) timely; (ii) smoothly; and (iii) effectively and efficiently. In general, coordination should be made at all levels from international level to local level, especially in the direct victimized communities.
Cambodia is one of the countries in the region, which has occasionally been affected by disasters, especially floods and droughts. Therefore, we have given high priority on disaster management and emergency relief. Our experience shows that the strengthened role of national institution is the critical key for the effectiveness and efficiency of disaster management and emergency relief coordination. Cambodia herself has established a structured, well-coordinated National Committee on Disaster Management as a permanent mechanism under the leadership of the Head of Government, to deal with all needs caused by all kinds of disasters in the country.
Secondly, A global response to disaster: Cambodia strongly supports and highly appreciate the establishment of the UN Emergency Fund for Earthquake and Tsunami Disaster and the Early Warning System for tsunami, earthquake or any other disasters. In addition, I highly appreciate the US-led “Core Group” initiative announced by President Bush on 29 December 2004 which intends to support the UN’s role in leading global response.
Indeed, the UN should play a central role in coordination of responses. In this regard, we want to see that all United Nations agencies and bureau play more active and effective role to support the authorities of the affected country in managing and responding to all types of disasters.
Thirdly, Enhancement of regional mechanism for disaster response and management:In order to cope with uncertainty created by natural catastrophe, we should strengthen regional mechanism on Disaster Management by formulating a sound framework, which includes: (i) sharing of information, expertise and best practices in disaster management; (ii) coordinating policy development to protect environment and promote disaster prevention; (iii) developing an early warning system; (iv) coordinating logistics and financing in emergency relief and rehabilitation; and (v) strengthening partnership relations with all stakeholders in order to enhance the capacity of regional response to natural catastrophe.
Moreover, the enhanced mechanism should consist of a stand-by team in respective member countries, who are trained to manage disaster situation to be able to quickly respond upon request of a disaster-stricken country in the region. The team can be deployed within hours to carry out rapid assessment of priority emergency relief needs, to support national authorities to promote order in the affected communities and coordinate national and international relief on-site.
Fourthlythe development of a Regional Warning System in the world and the region: I agree with the idea on the development of early warning systems, so that individual country is able to be prepared appropriately to face eventually with the disasters. At the global level, I believe that this task should be carried out under the umbrella of the United Nations with the support and participation of developed countries through the following measures: (i) advocating for better early warning systems in important regions in the world (ii) collecting and disseminating information on best practices in disaster management, and (iii) stimulating cooperation among early warning actors and the development of new ways to improve early warning systems. In this regard, Cambodia welcomes Japan’s initiative to establish a tsunami early warning system for the Indian Ocean region, and
Fifthly, Rehabilitation should be our top priorities: Cambodia welcomes the proposal by the international community to provide assistance to affected countries in the rehabilitation of infrastructure and livelihoods of the people. Based on experience of the biggest flood in Cambodia in 2000, I would like to express my high appreciation to the World Bank, the ADB and bilateral and multilateral donors for the efforts of rehabilitation. Thank you very much for your attention.