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Asians build post-tsunami disaster response

As Asians build post-tsunami disaster response, Annan looks to action

United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan called today for sustained political and financial commitment to disaster reduction, stressing that all human societies are vulnerable to natural disasters as last year's Asian tsunami and the recent tragedy that befell the United States Gulf Coast have demonstrated.

In a message to the Asian Conference on Disaster Reduction, delivered by Sálvano Briceño, Director of the UN disaster reduction body, he reminded disaster representatives from 29 Asian States gathered in Beijing that it is their job to see how political and financial commitments can be translated into concrete action at the regional, national and local levels.

There is an international recognition of a need to reduce vulnerability and build resilient nations and communities, he said. To this end the World Conference on Disaster Reduction adopted the Hyogo framework for Action 2005-2015 in Kobe, Japan, last January.

The framework calls for a global commitment to speeding up disaster response times, as well as the setting of guidelines for disaster prevention and developing people-centred early warning systems that provide timely information easily understood by at-risk populations.

At the World Summit earlier this month more than 150 world leaders reaffirmed the international commitment to fully implement the framework, laying particular stress on the need for assistance to developing countries prone to natural disasters.

Mr. Annan also stressed that achieving real progress requires a holistic approach and the promotion of sustainable development to reduce vulnerability and reaffirmed the UN's commitment to work with all its partners in the vital effort to strengthen communities and save lives.

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