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Opening remarks by Mr. Youssouf Abdel-Jelil – UN Viet Nam Resident Coordinator a.i. at the CCNDPC-UN-partner meeting on the flood emergency

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Date: Friday, 30 December 2016
Event: CCNDPC-UN-partner meeting on the flood emergency

Excellency Mr. Nguyen Xuan Cuong, Chair of the Central Committee for Natural Disaster Prevention and Control and Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development;

Members of the Central Committee for Natural Disaster Prevention and Control;

Colleagues and Partners from the United Nations, development partners’ community, civil society and Vietnamese Red Cross;

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Good morning,

First of all, at this late date of the year 2016, I would like to wish you all and your families a happy new year. Chúc Mung Nam Mới.

Then, I would like to sincerely thank the Chair of Central Committee for Natural Disaster Prevention and Control for co-chairing this meeting today with the United Nations, in the presence of a good representation of development partners. This collaboration exemplifies the long-standing partnership between the Government of Viet Nam and the UN on development, in general, and on disaster preparedness, response and recovery, in particular

The recent floods are part of a series of devastating disasters that have put the people of Viet Nam and their livelihoods under severe and continuous pressure this year. With an acute cold spell, the strongest drought and salt water intrusion on record, a number of tropical storms and five periods of consecutive flooding over the past three months, the complex interaction of weather variability and volatility, the double-sided El Niño -La Niña phenomenon and climate change was never more visible than in 2016. All these disasters together have caused the highest economic loss in the last ten years, as estimated by the Government.

For decades, the UN has supported the Government on disaster preparedness and risk reduction and has provided humanitarian relief where needed and complementing the Government efforts. This year, in response to the severe drought and salt water intrusion, the Government and the UN jointly launched an Emergency Response Plan and Appeal to address urgent needs. Major donor contributions to the drought relief were mobilized from, inter alia, ADB, the Government of Japan, the IFRC, ECHO, USAID and contributions through the United Nations Central Emergency Response Fund or CERF. With CERF, Government of Japan and other emergency funding, the UN was able to successfully support more than 256,000 vulnerable people in the 10 most affected provinces with life-saving WASH, nutrition, health and livelihood relief assistance.

Throughout the recent flood emergency, the UN has again stood side by side with the Government to provide support on coordination, information management and assessments of humanitarian needs. We have contributed technical expertise on WASH, nutrition, health, food security, livelihoods, early recovery and DRR to the assessment teams and have led 2 out of the 3 assessment teams. Key findings from these assessments will be presented to you today to inform your further action.

I hereby express our sincere condolences for the loss of lives, including children, and livelihoods in the provinces strongly hit by the recent floods, and express our utmost appreciation towards the Government for the extensive mobilization of resources to save lives, provide immediate relief assistance and protect vital assets and infrastructure.

Ladies and gentlemen,

I would like to take this opportunity to highlight the role of the UN on emergencies in a middle income country context such as in Viet Nam. While this context brings with it challenges for example on declining ODA, it also brings opportunities.

First of all, as we can witness today, the UN commits to continue supporting humanitarian coordination in its key role as a convener and bridge between the Government and the humanitarian community.

Secondly, the UN continues to work alongside Government and partners to address disaster and climate risks and vulnerabilities through innovative risk informed programming, and the implementation of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change.

We continue our investments through resident and non-resident agencies in early warning systems to minimize loss and damage to people’s livelihood including crops, women’s empowerment, safe schools and hospitals, resilient housing, climate change adaptation and mitigation measures and Child-Centered Disaster Risk Reduction such as the recently concluded conference between the United Nations and the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development in Ninh Thuan province.

We believe that by implementing integrated policies and programs on resilience and other components of the Sendai Framework, that the majority of disaster impacts can truly be averted, and that climatic hazards do not necessarily turn into climatic disasters. In this regard, the UN wishes to promote cooperation of Viet Nam with East Asia countries that have developed robust DRR systems that have provided a strong mitigation against some terrible climatic hazards.

Lastly, the UN continues to support the Government in providing visibility and contribution to coordination and mobilization of resources to address emergency and recovery needs as well as efforts to build resilience.

I conclude by reiterating our sincere appreciation towards the strong leadership and action of the Government of Viet Nam in dealing with numerous emergencies. We also commend the donors and all humanitarian partners for their on-going commitment to Viet Nam, and we hope that response to these emergencies be factored in a coherent manner in a coherent Disaster Risk Reduction and Resilience Strategy that bridges the gap between development, relief and recovery.

Within this spirit, I look forward to a constructive engagement today.
Thank you. Xin Cảm Ơn.