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Statement by Minister Counsellor YAO Wenlong of the Chinese Delegation to the Humanitarian Affairs Segment of the 2008 Substantive Session of the ECOSOC
New York, 15 July 2008


Mr. President,

The Chinese Delegation thanks the Secretary-General for his report on the agenda item of humanitarian affairs. Our thanks also go to Under-Secretary-General Holmes for his introduction to the agenda item. The Chinese Delegation associates itself with the statement made by Antigua and Barbuda on behalf the Group of 77 and China.

Mr. President, an enormous earthquake of 8.0 magnitude hit Wenchuan of China's Sichuan Province on 12 May this year, causing tremendous human casualties and property losses. Governments and people of many countries as well as the relevant organizations and agencies of the United Nations extended a helping hand at the most difficult moment for people of the disaster areas. Here, on behalf of the Chinese government and people, I wish to express our heartfelt gratitude to all those who have provided humanitarian assistance to the affected areas in China.

The year 2007 saw frequent occurrences of natural disasters across the world. The United Nations launched 15 flash appeals for emergency disaster relief, setting a new historical record. Armed conflicts, climate change and soaring food prices have worsened the global humanitarian situation. The issue of how the international community will further strengthen cooperation, improve its capacity for response in terms of humanitarian assistance, and enhance disaster reduction and preparedness capabilities at all levels has become even more important and urgent. The relevant conclusions and recommendations put forward in the Secretary-General's report call for our in-depth consideration and study.

The basic humanitarian principles established by GA resolution 46/182 provide comprehensive policy guidance for the effective conduct of humanitarian relief. As demonstrated by historical experiences, governments of disaster-hit countries play the primary role in leading, initiating, organizing, coordinating, and conducting post-disaster humanitarian relief at home. Governments of other countries and the United Nations system should provide the affected countries with timely and necessary assistance following the principles of humanity, neutrality and impartiality, and respecting disaster-stricken countries' sovereignty and territorial integrity.

In recent years, better coordination is becoming increasingly important as national governments, international agencies, nongovernmental organizations, and the private sector get more and more deeply engaged in humanitarian assistance. The Chinese delegation believes that within the United Nations system, it is necessary to strengthen the coordination function and role of the Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. At the national level, the humanitarian/resident coordinator system needs to be further improved. The Chinese Delegation proposes that the United Nations system strengthen training of, and guidance for, humanitarian/resident coordinators and establish a relevant accountability system. As a part of the reform of humanitarian affairs in the United Nations system, the cluster approach is conducive to enhancing interagency coordination and complementarities and should be further improved on the basis of past experience. China supports efforts by the Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs to continually develop partnerships and to strengthen cooperation with local nongovernmental organizations and the private sector with the approval and support from governments of disaster-stricken countries.

Currently, global humanitarian relief resources are severely inadequate and unevenly distributed. The Chinese Delegation hopes that the United Nations system will further intensify its fundraising efforts, continually expand fundraising channels, and encourage donors to increase non-earmarked contributions, so as to ensure that assistance funds are deployed in light of severity and urgency of disasters in places where they are the most needed. The Chinese Delegation believes that the establishment of the Central Emergency Response Fund has strengthened the United Nations system's response capacity for humanitarian relief. The Central Emergency Relief Fund should be given extensive support by the international community, as it provided necessary startup funds for some sudden major humanitarian crises, and alleviated funding shortages in early stages of disaster relief. The Chinese Delegation hopes that donors will make the same enthusiastic responses to the United Nations system's humanitarian flash appeals while making generous contributions to the Central Emergency Response Fund.

The Chinese Delegation supports efforts by the United Nations system to help disaster-prone countries and regions strengthen disaster prevention, reduction, and relief capabilities at all level. The Chinese Delegation calls on the international community to intensify its support for capacity building at all levels and to help those countries and regions build early-warning systems, increase material reserves for disaster relief, and improve their rapid response capacity by increasing funding input, promoting technology transfer, and conducting exchanges and training. The Chinese Delegation believes that only by making capacity building for disaster prevention and relief one of the important objectives of humanitarian assistance will it be possible to effectively help disaster-stricken countries improve their capacity to defend against natural disasters, overcome difficulties at an early date, and realize transition from relief to development.

Mr. President, China is a developing country prone to natural disasters; disaster prevention, disaster reduction, and emergency relief are tasks confronting our governments at all levels in China every year. This year, snow storms, earthquakes and floods have put a heavy burden on China's disaster relief efforts. The Chinese government attaches great importance to international cooperation in the area of humanitarian assistance and has actively participated in international relief efforts in response to requests from governments of affected countries as well as the appeals of the international community. Over the past year, the Chinese government has, within the scope of its capacity, provided disaster-stricken countries such as Pakistan, Peru, Bolivia, Sudan, and Myanmar with timely humanitarian assistance of diverse forms through multilateral and bilateral channels, demonstrating the sympathy, support, and concern on the part of the Chinese government and people for governments and people of disaster-stricken countries. The Chinese government will as always continue to support the disaster prevention, reduction, and relief efforts of the United Nations system and the international community and contribute to the effort of helping disaster-stricken countries overcome disasters and rebuild their countries.

Thank you, Mr. President.


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