Mauritius, 17 January 2005: Mrs. Anna Tibaijuka, Executive Director
of UN-HABITAT, launched the Tsunami Human Settlements Recovery Facility
at the International Meeting to review the implementation of the Programme
of Action for the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States.
The United Nations Conference convened in Mauritius to address the economic
and environmental vulnerabilities of small island developing states began
on Monday 10 January and brought together representatives from the islands,
donor partners and other to review the implementation of action adopted
at the last such conference in Barbados ten years ago.
At the opening of the High Level Segment, on 13 January, the Secretary-General
of the United Nations, Mr. Kofi Annan that the recent Tsunami disaster
in the Indian Ocean left little to the imagination as to what might happen
from the rising sea levels that will accompany global warming. He therefore
called for decisive measures against climate change, and global early
warning systems against all kinds of natural disasters.
Describing his recent visit to some of the areas hardest hit by the Tsunami,
the Secretary-General told the delegates that we are all inhabitants of
the global island and called on everyone to declare their solidarity with
“The United Nations will continue to do its part sparing no effort
to ensure that help reaches those who need it quickly and effectively.
That means no, in the emergency phase, to provide clean water, sanitation,
food and medical care. And it means over the long term, as we look to
reconstruction and long term development. Should disaster strike again,
and it will, in some part of the world, we must be able to say that we
did everything humanly possible to build resilient societies.”
Responding to the Secretary-General’s challenge, Mrs. Anna Tibaijuka
announced the formation of a Tsunami Human Settlements Recovery Facility,
with seed capital of US$ 1,000,000 that will be allocated for specific
programmes in Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Somalia and Thailand, and in other
affected countries as requests for UN-HABITAT’s expertise in post-disaster
reconstruction and rehabilitation continue to emerge. In conclusion, Mrs.
Tibaijuka called upon donors and all member of the international community
to contribute to this fund to help UN-HABITAT to fast track the recovery
of the affected areas. In particular, UN-HABITAT will use the funds to
focus on fiver key areas of immediate recovery. These included emergency
clean up of the environment, restoration of critical infrastructure, especially
water and sanitation, emergency and transition shelter, critical land
use planning and restoration of livelihoods through employment generation.
“These five areas represent the starting point for longer term
reconstruction of human settlements; they are the building blocks for
the human settlements recovery process and the vehicle through which the
transition from relief to sustainable development is driven,” said
Mrs. Tibaijuka. “It is critical, therefore, that we do not limit
our efforts only to immediate relief but also to develop the basis for
long-term development. We need to make sure that local authorities have
capacity and the skills to make human settlements less vulnerable to such
disasters in the future.”