India contributes USD 1 mn to tsunami trust fund

Bangkok: India Friday donated $1 million to the UN tsunami preparedness fund to strengthen early warning systems for natural disasters in Indian Ocean and southeast Asian countries.

The announcement to contribute to the UNESCAP Multi-Donor Trust Fund for Tsunami, Disaster and Climate Preparedness in Indian Ocean and Southeast Asian Countries was made on the occasion of the remembrance ceremony to mark the 10th anniversary of the Indian Ocean tsunami that left over 230,000 people dead, a release from the Indian embassy in Bangkok said.

"India joins the international community in its efforts to prepare for any such natural calamity in the future by establishing effective early warning systems," External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj was quoted as saying in a message.

"ESCAP is extremely pleased to partner with the Government of India to further strengthen regional early warning systems and build resilience to natural disasters," said Shamshad Akhtar, United Nations under secretary general and ESCAP executive secretary.

He added that the contribution by India will give a "major boost" to promote innovative solutions based on a regional approach.

"The Indian Ocean tsunami was devastating in its impact on coastal communities in several countries in the Asia-Pacific region.

"Despite suffering large casualties, India was one of the first countries to extend assistance in search and rescue and rehabilitation of the victims of the tsunami in countries in its neighbourhood," said Harsh Vardhan Shringla, ambassador of India to Thailand and permanent representative to ESCAP.

He added that India has made great strides "to strengthen its multi-hazard early warning system and has extended this facility to cover the region." The contribution, Shringla said, would "further strengthen the process of building resilience to natural disasters in the Asia-Pacific region".

Created in 2005 following the devastation caused by the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, the trust fund supports activities that build resilience through strengthened early warning systems for coastal hazards.

It has made important contributions to the establishment of effective regional mechanisms such as the Indian Ocean Tsunami Warning and Mitigation System (IOTWS) and the Regional Integrated Multi-Hazard Early Warning System for Africa and Asia (RIMES), of which India is the current chair of the council, as well as to the strengthening of warning systems at the national and local levels.

The contribution to the trust fund is part of a series of steps taken by India to support regional early warning systems. India is a regional service provider for the IOTWS, which became operational in 2011, and also an active member of the ESCAP/World Meteorological Organisation Panel on Tropical Cyclones.

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