The government has urged the Pakistan Red Crescent Society (PRCS) to support the government in divising a disaster response plan to cope with natural and man-made disasters.
The government alone cannot cope with any disaster and organisations like PRCS play a vital role during disasters and even during normal times. This was said by Interior Minister Rehman Malik on Tuesday.
He said that Pakistan is passing through a critical stage and there is a dire need to focus on disaster preparedness and management. Malik said that the government would also set up rehabilitation centres for disabled persons in each hospital in addition to drafting law for them.
Malik was speaking as the chief guest at the inaugural session of a two-day conference on “Mega Disasters in Pakistan Lessons Learnt — Way Forward” organized by the PRCS. The conference aims at bringing together all the stakeholders to discuss and formulate a joint strategy for better planning within available resources, said a press release issued by the society.
“The government is ready to help PRCS in terms of logistic and administrative,” said the minister, praising the PRCS for its “commendable” services.
Earlier in her introductory remarks, PRCS Chairperson Senator Nilofar Bakhtiar said the conference targets relief and humanitarian organisations, enabling them to avert or minimise the losses of lives and property.
“Focus will be on four main disasters — earthquakes, floods, cyclones and man-made disasters,” she said.
The document at the end of the conference will prove a starting point for a well-coordinated disaster management mechanism, she said. The document will be given to all parliamentarians before the start of the budget session, so that the government can set its priorities and allocate funds for disaster management and preparedness to cope with any future disaster in a more effective way, she added.
She said that the conference aims providing a perfect platform to identify available resources and improve strategies to prepare for the next disaster.
The conference will not only focus on the 2010 floods, but also reassess and review the lessons learnt from previous “mega disasters”, she said, adding that this in turn “would allow us in analysing how far we have moved in disaster management since each successive disaster”.
She regretted the fact that disaster preparedness was not the focus of the government, saying that PRCS feels the need to put all the humanitarian and relief organisations and the government together to come up with strong recommendations to make disaster preparedness an important part of the national policy.
The interior minister also inaugurated a photo exhibition “Journey Through Times” depicting the role of Red Cross/Red Crescent over the world and in Pakistan.
The inaugural session was attended by a large number of parliamentarians, foreign delegates, diplomats, members of International Committee of the Red Cross, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, sister national societies and volunteers from all over the country, among others.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 18th, 2011.
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