Today the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat that will support work to strengthen national policy, institutional and legal frameworks to reduce the risk of disasters, mitigate their effects when they occur and expedite the recovery of our communities.
The MOU will ensure continued momentum toward the Pacific region’s implementation of the International Disaster Response Law (IDRL) Guidelines.
“The IDRL Guidelines have been developed to assist governments to become better prepared for the common legal problems which arise in responding to disasters,” says Ms Aurelia Balpe, Head of the Pacific Regional Office of the IFRC. “These include things like bottlenecks related to entry visas, personnel registration, customs clearance and taxation and transport permissions. These all slow down relief efforts.”
In 2012, Leaders of the Pacific Islands Forum encouraged Forum Members to consider the IDRL Guidelines and to take appropriate measures to strengthen their national policy, and institutional and legal frameworks in collaboration with their National Red Cross Societies, the IFRC, the UN and other relevant partners. The signing of this MOU underpins that support.
The Pacific, while blessed with a unique and rich geography, is exposed to a broad range of natural disasters. A 2012 report of the World Bank, ‘Acting Today For Tomorrow’, said that since the 1950s extreme natural events have affected more than 9.2 million people in the Pacific region and caused damage in excess of US$3.2 billion, with tropical cyclones being the major cause for this loss and damage.
“Natural disasters present particular challenges to the countries of our region, given our geography, small populations, constrained transport infrastructure and limited national resources for specialised disaster response services,” says Andie Fong Toy, Deputy Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat. “As such, strengthening laws and partnerships for responding efficiently and effectively to disasters is a goal of fundamental importance.”
The MOU will provide a platform for joint activities between the IFRC and Forum Secretariat to promote awareness and encourage implementation of the IDRL Guidelines, including the development of IDRL-related laws and policies.