Tue, Dec 27, 2005 - Page 2 News List

Regional disaster relief center opens in Taipei

COLLABORATION The Democratic Pacific Union's Pacific Center for Disaster Reduction was launched to mark the first anniversary of the South Asian tsunami

By Chiu Yu-Tzu  /  STAFF REPORTER

Taiwan's contribution to international disaster relief will be increased thanks to the formation of the Pacific Center for Disaster Reduction, a disaster relief organization that will be jointly operated by all members of the Democratic Pacific Union (DPU).

The Pacific Center for Disaster Reduction was launched in Taipei yesterday in memory of the first anniversary of the devastating South Asian tsunami. The center, which operates under the auspices of the DPU, will receive technical assistance from the National Applied Research Laboratories (NARL).

Opening ceremony

The opening ceremony held at the National Center for Research on Earthquake Engineering was attended by high-ranking officials as well as a number of ambassadors and representatives from Guatemala, Panama, Paraguay, the Solomon Islands, Japan, Indonesia and the Philippines, among others.

Vice President Annette Lu (呂秀蓮), who is also director-general of the DPU, said she still feels sorrow for the hundreds of thousands whose lives have, for the past year, been affected by the devastating tsunami.

"To date, reconstruction remains incomplete. We must face the fact that human beings have entered into an era of catastrophes. Our environmentally-unfriendly activities, such as the abuse of fossil fuels, deforestation and damage caused to ecological systems, have caused problems we have no choice but to deal with," Lu said.

President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) said that the establishment of the Pacific Center for Disaster Reduction would be a solid first step for the DPU, which aims to ensure the welfare of not only the Pacific Rim nations, but also the rest of the world. Chen also said that he has been impressed by the efficiency of the DPU, which was established in August.

"I do believe that the DPU will achieve its main goals, including those of peaceful coexistence, the promotion of democracy, negotiation, collaboration and development," Chen said.

It is hoped that the three core values of the DPU -- democracy, peace and prosperity -- can be ensured through the collaboration of the Pacific Rim nations, which together account for 40 percent of the world's population and whose economies make up more than half of the global market.

Mandate

The Pacific Center for Disaster Reduction has been established with a mandate to consolidate and coordinate efforts for promoting sustainable development in the Pacific Rim region.

The first priority for the center is to facilitate technology transfer and collaboration on disaster reduction and sustainable development among the DPU's 28 members.

According to NARL director Lee Lou-chuan (李羅權), Taiwan -- which is vulnerable to natural disasters such as earthquakes, typhoons and floods -- has developed good warning systems and a robust disaster relief network.

"The center established by the DPU will serve as a forum in which member nations can pool technologies, experience and educational resources and so form a partnership to tackle natural disasters effectively," Lee said.

Citing a UN report, Lee said that while only 11 percent of those who fall victim to natural disasters live in poor countries, they account for more than 53 percent of the total number of recorded fatalities.

"This means that we can significantly decrease the death toll resulting from natural disasters by focussing on poor countries," Lee said.

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