Today, the 65th session of the UN General Assembly opens. During the next 5 days, representatives of 192 Member States will be gathering in New York to discuss the renewal of the global governance. The Red Helmets Foundation, of the former Minister Nicole Guedj, is particularly interested in this summit. In fact, Part E of the 65th session’s agenda will evoke the issue of effective coordination of humanitarian assistance efforts.
In the last few years, the occurrence of natural disasters has increased and the number of persons exposed to these environmental upheavals never stopped growing. For the British NGO OXFAM, every year, 250 millions of persons are victims of natural disasters. By 2015, experts predict an increase of 54%, which would bring the number of disaster victims to 375 millions individuals.
These figures seem to reflect the harsh reality of 2010. In the beginning of January, Haiti was stroke by one of the most terrible earthquakes in the world’s history. A few weeks later, Chili was also hit by an earthquake of an 8.8 magnitude. Today, Pakistan is profoundly hurt by floods with unprecedented proportions and has to face a catastrophic situation affecting 21 millions of persons.
On the eve of the UN’s General Assembly, these figures prove that there is a compelling necessity to adapt the humanitarian system to nowadays’ environmental challenges. This is the only way to relieve victims.
It becomes vital to better coordinate and better organise the international aid to save lives during emergencies. Nicole Guedj, former Minister and president of the Red Helmets Foundation, commited herself to this cause. Many years have passed since she began to advocate in favour of the creation of Red Helmets, an international humanitarian reaction force under UN authority.
The Red Helmets are conceived as an international crisis centre, with regional offices and an operational force. Their tasks also include the identification of the needs in order to mutalise available ressources and to define global intervention schemes. Within the first hours following a disaster, doctors, logisticians, telecommunication engineers and other specialists would be deplyed to coordinate the different governmental and non-governmental teams present on the field.
After the Haitian catastrophe, the French public opinion expressed its support for this proposition. In a poll published on 27 January 2010 in the major French newspaper Le Figaro, 89% of French people thought that relief would have been more efficient [in Haiti] if an international humanitarian reaction force under UN authority had existed.
In their fight for the creation of humanitarian brothers for the Blue Helmets, the Red Helmets Foundation has been able to count on numerous backings. Suported by the Haitian president René Preval, Nicole Guedj presented her project to Ban Ki-Moon, on 31 March 2010, on the occasion of the international summit dedicated to the rebuilding of Haiti. The UN General Secretary aknowledged the necessity of a better organization of first aid to face the major natural catastrophes more efficiently : "It is a beautiful project and a beautiful idea. We must take it into account." he declared.
Several Heads of State expressed their support for the Red Helmets project. Presidents Blaise Compaoré from Burkina Faso, Ali Bongo from Gabon, Michel Sleiman from Lebanon, Amadou Toumani Touré from Mali, Faure Gnassingbé from Togo, as well as the King of Cambodia, publicly stated their approval of the initiative.
Jean Ping, President of the African Union, took a stand for the Red Helmets in a column in Le Figaro, on 4 April 2010.
As Nicole Guedj recently stated : "We do have the means necessary for the invention of a sustainable and efficient relief, a relief able to optimize the use of fundings and able to avoid the pitfall of waste. We do not need yet another operator: NGOs and international agencies already accomplish a tremendous amount of work. We do not need another philosophy either. Only one is worth: saving lives. Relief needs preparation, frameworks, coordination, regulation, structure, scouting... Relief needs a "Humanitarian Intelligence" in order to anticipate and integrate its action. Relief needs Humanitarian Red Helmets to coordinate interventions."
Pour des Casques Rouges à l'ONU (Editions du Cherche-midi, 2009).
Sarah AIZENMAN – Communication Manager
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