UN to close humanitarian affairs Lanka office

UNOCHAThe United Nations is to close its Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in Sri Lanka by the end of this year as the country is better prepared to face disaster situations on its own.

OCHA will close in Papua New Guinea this month and Sri Lanka by the end of the year, while “radically downsizing” in Indonesia, Oliver Lacey-Hall, the outgoing head of OCHA’s Asia-Pacific office in Bangkok told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

OCHA will maintain its regional office in Bangkok to help governments to prepare for disasters and support coordination of assistance after disaster strikes.

“If we have a large-scale disaster in this region – as you saw in Nepal – boom, we’re in there. And we provide that support fairly rapidly,” Lacey-Hall said. OCHA’s Nepal office, which was meant to close this week, was scaled up from one person to more than 30 after the earthquakes in April and May.

He said the region’s success in setting up disaster management authorities stemmed in part from the 2005 Hyogo Framework for Action, guidelines adopted by governments to reduce disaster risk and cope better with catastrophes. (Colombo Gazette)