Asean to mobilise all available means

Asean to mobilise all available means

ASEAN will mobilise "all available means" to help the Philippines get back on its feet in the wake of Typhoon Haiyan, ASEAN secretary-general Le Luong Minh has pledged, after visiting disaster-hit areas there last week.

The grouping will rope in health, transport and communication officials across its member states to support long-term recovery and rehabilitation efforts in the Philippines, he told diplomats and media at the ASEAN secretariat here on Monday.

It will also discuss how ASEAN can strengthen its assistance and collective response to disasters.

"Debris on the roads has been cleared, so vehicles can operate and distribute supplies," he said, recounting his visit. "But there was a lot of rain as well, and the environment is conducive to the outbreak of disease if conditions are not improved."

His comments come as ASEAN disaster management officials meet in Vietnam this week, and as several commentators criticise ASEAN's response to the disaster as paling in comparison to the substantial offers of help by countries such as the United States, Britain and Japan.

Over the weekend, the World Bank raised its aid to nearly US$1 billion (S$1.25 billion).

"The support of the international community has been very significant," said Mr Minh.

As the Philippines begins its recovery, ASEAN will share its best practices from members, he added, citing the Indian Ocean tsunami and Cyclone Nargis. The 2004 tsunami killed over 230,000 people, mostly in Aceh, Indonesia, while Cyclone Nargis in Myanmar in 2008 killed over 130,000.

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