June 8 Havana, (Granma) - UNDER the slogan "Consolidating Strengths
to Reduce Vulnerabilities," member countries of the Association of Caribbean States (ACS) met in Havana to form a network
to strengthen their national and regional abilities with respect to the reduction and mitigation of natural disasters, in
a meeting also attended by experts from the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and other UN organizations, with the
support of regional organizations, donor countries and NGOs.
The three-day Workshop Seminar for National Authorities:
Policies, Systems, and Experiences in Risk Management in the Caribbean was co-sponsored by the ACS, the Cuban Civil Defense
System – acting as host organization – the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and the
UNDP. Many other UN institutions (UNICEF, PHO/WHO, WFP, FAO, UNFPA); international humanitarian organizations (International
Committee of the Red Cross and the Red Crescent); the European Community Humanitarian Office (ECHO) and regional groups such
as CDERA, also took part in the event.
The recently created network will have its base in Havana in recognition of the
practices applied by Cuba, a nation that has demonstrated its worth in
the task of saving human lives and reducing damages
by way of opportune
The Seminar was presided over by Jan Egeland, UN deputy secretary general
for humanitarian affairs; Elena Martínez, UNDP joint administrator and regional director for Latin America and the Caribbean;
and Dr. Luís Carpio, ACS director of Transportation and Natural Disasters.
In their respective addresses, Egeland and
Martínez from the UN and Dr. Carpio from the ACS praised the disaster prevention and mitigation system applied by Cuba, which
has reduced to a minimum fatalities caused by extreme meteorological incidents.
Accompanied by Bruno Moro - the UN resident
coordinator in Cuba - the UN deputy secretary general for humanitarian affairs held cordial meetings with Dr. Carlos Lage,
vice president of the Council of State of Cuba, and Foreign Minister Felipe Pérez Roque.
With both leaders, Egeland discussed
the international situation, with
particular reference to plans to reform the United Nations and the evolution of
fulfillment of the Millennium Development Goals, issues that will be subject
to review at the summit scheduled to take
place this September at the UN
Egeland thanked Cuba for its support with respect to the integrity of
the United Nations and the Cuban nation’s cooperation efforts in the areas of healthcare, education, and agriculture
and other Millennium Development Goals in many developing countries. Also Coordinator for Humanitarian Aid, Egeland said that
he was particularly impressed by his visit to the Latin American School of Medicine, where Cuba is offering free training
in medicine and its various specialties to thousands of young people from many other countries.
For her part, Elena Martínez
was received by Marta Lomas, minister of foreign investment and economic cooperation, and Deputy Foreign Minister Abelardo
Moreno. Both Mrs. Martínez and Mr. Egeland also met with the head of Cuba’s Civil Defense System.
At the end of
the Seminar Workshop, Major General Ramón Pardo Guerra expressed his hope that with the support of this network, the Caribbean
can embark on an active and efficient period with respect to natural disasters by strengthening its system of risk prevention
Finally, he expressed Cuba’s readiness to support this effort with all its
structures and its accumulated experiences in order to
ensure an effective reduction in the number of unnecessary deaths
caused by natural phenomena.
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