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India wants liberalising visas for disaster relief teams

Published on 8 Nov. 2012 10:45 PM IST
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Advocating liberalised grant of visas for disaster relief teams, India Thursday asked the 18 member nations of East Asia Summit to create a framework for coordination of international assistance during natural disasters such as earthquakes.

Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde, inaugurating a two-day ‘EAS-India Workshop 2012 on Building Regional Framework for Earthquake Risk Management’ here, said a common understanding of protocols of aid during a natural calamity would pave the way for smoother global response to disasters.

“A common understanding of procedures and protocol for the assistance would be a valuable step forward. It should include a system whereby search and rescue teams should get visa and airport facilitation on an immediate basis,” Shinde said.

The event was attended by officials of the national disaster management authorities of the 18 East Asia Summit (EAS) member-nations, including India.

Medical aid should reach the victims of natural disasters without delay and so should food and clothing, he said.
“We can benefit a lot from practical hands-on understanding among countries about how to channelise humanitarian assistance,” he said.

Calling for assessing earthquake risks with greater precision, the home minister said: “though we cannot forecast earthquakes, we should have a clear idea about the regions which can expect earthquakes of a certain magnitude and intensity”.

He noted that credible earthquake scenarios would help in tweaking building safety codes and putting in place other preparatory measures to face the disasters.

Asking the EAS nations to “harness the knowledge and experience” of earthquake response, he said it would help strengthen international coordination and cooperation. He also called for using the knowledge so gained to reduce number of deaths in earthquakes.

Referring to the devastation in the 1993 Latur (Maharashtra) and the 2001 Bhuj (Gujarat) earthquakes and the 2004 tsunami in the Indian Ocean, the home minister appreciated the generosity shown by the international community during these calamities and the rehabilitation efforts.

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