New York, 31 March 2010 (AFP) -
Haitian President Rene Préval and former French Minister Nicole Guedj, plead Wednesday in New York for the creation of “Red Helmets”, a humanitarian operational force under the auspices of the UN, to coordinate the emergency responses in the aftermath of a disaster.
“The generosity of nations must be disciplined”, Préval declared in front of the international conference of donors at the New York headquarters of the UN. According to Préval, it is “indispensable to create a humanitarian force of intervention, the Red Helmets, under the auspices of the United Nations, to coordinate responses to disasters that are bound to occur - earthquakes, tsunamis and other disasters - due to climate change. International aid must be coordinated upstream for it to reveal its effectiveness”.
Several major natural disasters – the December 2004 tsunami in the Indian Ocean, the Cyclone Nargis in Burma in 2008, and the earthquake in Haiti on January 12 - have highlighted the necessity for the rescue teams to intervene in the very first hours following a disaster in order to save a maximum of lives.
Coordination problems have often been underlined, despite UN agencies efforts.
To solve this problem, Ms. Guedj, State Advisor, created the “Red Helmets Foundation for emergency humanitarian action and development” and has been working on this idea for several years.
She was received with Mr. Préval by the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, with whom they called for the creation of these “100% humanitarian” Red Helmets. It was the first time that this proposal was elaborated in the compound of the United Nations.
The idea, said Ms. Guedj to the AFP, is for their establishment to be enacted by the 192 member states of the UN General Assembly to give them “an indisputable legitimacy.”
This body would consist of a High Command at the UN, and an operational force of a hundred men that would be sent on the field. Its purpose is to facilitate the coordination of humanitarian action on the field.
After the interview, Ms. Guedj said that Mr. Ki-moon had been “attentive and welcoming”, estimating it was “a good project that deserved study and reflection”.