Calmy-Rey pleads for disaster prevention plan
The Swiss foreign minister has urged nations to develop a disaster response system before the next catastrophe strikes.
Speaking at an international conference in Geneva, Micheline Calmy-Rey also called for long-term planning in southeast Asia to help the region recover from last month’s tsunami.
Calmy-Rey said it was essential to compile a list of natural threats, environmental hazards and risks of infectious disease for the region’s most vulnerable countries.
Additional measures should include an early warning system for tsunamis and new efforts to combat poverty.
“Poor countries are particularly at risk,” she told the conference on Tuesday. “The reconstruction effort must serve to promote long-term development.”
The Swiss foreign minister, who was among 250 participants from governments and international organisations at the conference, said it was important to develop the ability to react to all kinds of disasters.
Calmy-Rey said she was pleased with the generous and swift response by public and private donors to the disaster in southeast Asia.
The Swiss government has promised SFr27 million ($21 million) in emergency aid. Private donors in Switzerland have pledged SFr140 million.
The government has also sent three transport helicopters and up to 50 military personnel to Indonesia’s Aceh province – one of the areas hit hardest by the tidal waves – to support the United Nations refugee agency.
More than 150,000 people are estimated to have died in the tidal waves triggered by an undersea earthquake off the Indonesian island of Sumatra on December 26.
swissinfo with agencies
Swiss Solidarity has collected SFr140 million ($119 million) in aid for the victims of Asia's tsunami.
The organisation is working with 14 partner charities in southeast Asia.
SFr10 million have been released for emergency aid to provide food, drinking water, blankets, clothes, medication and kitchen utensils.
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