UN calls on everyone to play a role in disaster response


When it comes to surviving disaster, the United Nations’ Pacific Resident Coordinator of Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Palau, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu Sanaka Samarasinha says everyone must step up and be counted.

“State institutions have a particular role to play,” he said.

“For instance, pre-positioning supplies before a disaster to make sure you are not stuck waiting.

“There are civil society institutions that have a particular role; women, girls, children, the elderly.

“And then there’s the private sector. If you want to get something from Point A to Point B, it could very well be a private sector entity that has the capability.

“The first people to be able to help is the community that you live in. It’s those coping mechanisms that you have within the community that literally save lives.”

Samarasinha is also encouraging pre-disaster drills, asserting that practicing disaster scenarios is vital to ensuring a prompt and professional response.

“I was very happy to hear, for instance, the NEC (Palau National Emergency Committee) had gone through and exercise recently where for several days, they worked on a scenario of a plane crash,” he says.

“Through that exercise, that simulation, they came up with various challenges that they had not considered in the past.”

He said the UN is committed to working with national authorities to be ready for a broad range of disasters.