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"HopeFor" International Conference Kicks Off
2011-11-27

The international conference on the "HopeFor" initiative: improving the effectiveness and coordination of military and civil defense assets for natural disaster response, kicked off in Doha Sunday under the auspices of HE the Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabor Al Thani. The three-day conference will discuss the concept of the HopeFor initiative and consider the options presented in the initiative and the steps needed to implement them in cooperation with Member States and the regional and international organizations and emergency relief coordinator. Addressing the opening session of the experts meeting, HE Assistant Foreign Minister for Follow-Up Affairs Mohammad bin Abdullah al-Rumaihi highlighted the importance of the conference which comes amidst increasing natural disasters that kill millions of people in different parts of the world. HE al-Rumaihi said that frequent and larger natural disasters are still expected due to climate change, which raises the question of how to strengthen the local, national, regional and international capacities to prepare for and response to natural disasters. HE al-Rumaihi noted that multiplicity of these natural disasters put an additional burden on the humanitarian response systems, warning that it is often recourse to the assets of military and civil defense to support relief efforts in natural disaster situations. Experience shows military and civil defense assets have effectively contributed in the aftermath of a disaster by saving lives of millions of people, al-Rumaihi said and hailed the HopeFor initiative announced in New York in June 2010 by HE the Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabor Al Thani. The initiative was launched to enhance the effectiveness and co-ordination of military and civil defence machinery while dealing with natural disasters. In-depth consultations with a wide range of stakeholders and in close co-operation with United Nations Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs to further fine tune the initiative, followed the launch, al-Rumaihi said, giving the background of the HopeFor initiative. Al-Rumaihi delved on the positive role of the State of Qatar that helped mobilise support for the initiative from member states and other organisations. He said, Qatar, the Dominican Republic and Turkish Republic tabled a draft resolution which was adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on July 1st earlier this year. The General Assembly welcomed the initiative of HE Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabor Al Thani entitled 'The Framework of Global Co-operation to Improve the effectiveness of the Assets of Military and Civil Defence in Relief Operations', al-Rumaihi told the gathering. "The aims of this initiative are to strengthen military and civil co-ordination in humanitarian relief operations while dealing with natural disasters effectively in accordance with the principles of international humanitarian law and principles," he said. The UN General Assembly took note of this initiative and approved this in its resolution the decision of Qatar, Dominican Republic and the Republic of Turkey to participate in the international conference in Doha this year to discuss the concept of HopeFor initiative and take steps to implement the recommendations in close co-operation with member states, all organisations and the Co-ordinator of Relief in emergencies, the minister said. In closing, he welcome the participants to the expert-level meetings, to be held over the next two days here. "We look forward to your participation in the three seminars which will thoroughly discuss the options identified in the background paper of the initiative and the panel sessions that will talk about the action necessary for implementing the global networks and regional co-ordination as well as the centers of excellence. This will follow the recommendations to be issued by the Ministerial Meeting of the Conference, al-Rumaihi said and added that "the State of Qatar will submit these recommendations to the General Assembly of UN in its current session." For his part, Operative Director of the Center of Emergency Response of the Dominican Edwin Olivares called on the need to develop organised plans for rapid intervention to mitigate the effects of natural disasters, stressing that the "HopeFor" initiative is based on the rapid and effective intervention, especially at the humanitarian level in natural disasters response around the world. In his speech before the conference, Olivares called on the need to prepare for this issue, and each country has to develop its military and civil capabilities to deal with any natural disaster. Olvars also noted to the earthquake that hit his country in January last year, saying that they were able to response quickly by great potential, but the disaster was greater than any potential. The rapid response by other countries and international organizations helped to mitigate the humanitarian disaster in the country, he added. Director of the Center of Emergency Response of the Dominican expressed his thanks to the State of Qatar for its sponsorship of this initiative and the generous hosting of this conference. For his part, the Turkish Ambassador to Qatar expressed deep thanks to HE Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabor Al Thani for launching "HopeFor" intiative, noting the efforts undertaken by the State of Qatar to adopt the UN General Assemly's resolution on bolstering effectiveness of military, civil assets in disaster response. This conference is a necessary step to improve the international cooperation in disaster relief, he said, affirming his country's support for this initiative and all efforts made by the State of Qatar in this regard.

QNA