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Statement by Mr. Yao Wenlong, Minister Counsellor of the Permanent Mission of China to the United Nations, at the 60th Session of the UNGA under Agenda Item 73 Entitled "Strengthening of the Coordination of Humanitarian and Disaster Relief Assistance of the United Nations, including Special Economic Assistance"

Mr. President,

The Chinese delegation would like to express its appreciation to the Secretary-General for the reports he has provided under this agenda item. We associate ourselves with the statement made by Jamaica on behalf of the Group of 77 and China. Here, I would like to make three points in connection with this item.

I. On strengthening the coordination of the United Nations humanitarian assistance

In recent years, the world has been hit by frequent major natural disasters. The Indian Ocean tsunami and the recent massive earthquake in south Asia took the lives of hundreds of thousands of people and resulted in huge losses to many countries. In addition, floods, hurricanes, snowstorms, locust infestation and droughts that occurred across the globe have caused widespread devastation and the loss of livelihood for hundreds of millions of people. The frequent occurrence of natural disasters has increased demands for humanitarian assistance provided by the international community and severely challenged the capacity of UN humanitarian assistance system.

However, the level of relief operations in the wake of the Indian Ocean tsunami and the south Asia earthquake has demonstrated the immense potential of the international community as well as the important role of leadership and coordination of the UN in this regard. The Chinese delegation commends USG Egeland and the Office for the Coordination of the Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) under his leadership for their tireless efforts in securing emergency funding and in providing and coordinating humanitarian assistance. We will as always support the work of OCHA.

Since more and more organizations and agencies are taking part in humanitarian assistance work, it becomes ever more important that relief assistance to disaster-affected countries and areas get well coordinated. Therefore, it is necessary to further strengthen the leading role of OCHA and the resident coordinators for humanitarian assistance so that they could play an effective role in coordinating the relief activities of the relevant bodies and agencies of the UN system, NGOs and the civil society. It is important to clearly define their respective responsibilities in order to reduce overlap and help governments of affected countries make the best use of the international assistance in their post-disaster relief, recovery and reconstruction efforts.

II. On the Central Emergency Revolving Fund and the Consolidated Appeals Process

Emergency humanitarian assistance entails substantial funding requirements. Both the Central Emergency Revolving Fund and the Consolidated Appeals Process established in accordance with GA resolution 46/182 have played an important role in the last decade or so. The Central Emergency Revolving Fund has guaranteed timely funding for relief agencies so that they may respond promptly to emergencies. The Consolidated Appeals Process has been an effective mechanism of financing and planning for UN humanitarian assistance agencies. However, funding provided through this channel has been in a steady decline in recent years. Inadequate funding has severely hampered the relief, recovery and reconstruction efforts of disaster-affected countries. Here, the Chinese delegation would like to appeal to donor countries that have the means to demonstrate generosity and make more funds available for humanitarian assistance to disaster-affected developing countries, especially the least developed countries.

The recommendations on upgrading the Central Emergency Revolving Fund proposed by the Secretary-General in his report are an important integral part of the reform program for the humanitarian assistance operation. They are of positive significance to the further strengthening of the UN humanitarian relief coordination and response capabilities. Concerning the proposed Central Emergency Response Fund, further details need to be articulated with regard to the scale of financing in the grant component, recommendations on loan and grant facilities, operation of the Fund as well as the administration and management procedures. It is very important that all countries show their support in this regard. It is our hope that through joint efforts, the Central Emergency Response Fund will be able to start soon and achieve expected results.

III. On strengthening international and regional cooperation and capacity-building of the disaster-affected countries

Strengthening international and regional cooperation is an effective means to respond to natural disasters. When providing assistance to affected countries, the international community should also pay attention to their capacity in dealing with natural disasters. It is important to help the central and local governments of the disaster-affected countries build up the capacity in disaster prevention, relief and management. While making sure relief assistance is properly delivered, attention should also be given to disaster prevention and reduction, including helping the affected countries develop medium and long term plans of disaster reduction and establishing national and regional mechanisms of monitoring, prevention and assessment of major disasters. The United Nations enjoys clear advantages in the areas of disaster prevention, relief and reduction. It has extensive experience in policy formulation, program design and implementation and has well-established mechanisms. Hence the United Nations should play a greater role in the future.

Mr. President,

China is also a disaster-prone developing country. This year, floods alone have affected more than two hundred million people and resulted in direct economic loss of US$17 billion. Even so, the Chinese government has provided within its capability emergency humanitarian assistance to other disaster-stricken countries. The Chinese government provided assistance in kind and cash valued at US$83.1 million to countries affected by the Indian Ocean tsunami, including US$20 million donation provided through the UN multilateral system. In the immediate aftermath of the massive earthquake that struck Pakistan, the Chinese government provided emergency humanitarian assistance totaling US$6.2 million in cash and kind and dispatched search and rescue teams to the disaster areas. In addition, the Chinese government has also provided US$500,000 and relief goods worth of 500,000 RMB yuan through the UN system. All this is a clear demonstration of the sympathy, solidarity and friendship of the Chinese government and people with the governments and peoples of the affected countries. The Chinese government will continue, together with other countries, to actively participate in international and regional cooperation in disaster prevention, relief and reduction. We will do our part in helping disaster-affected countries overcome natural disasters, rebuild their homes and return to normalcy.

Thank you, Mr. President.

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