FORUM-ASIA expresses condolences and solidarity with victims of natural disasters
5 October 2009 12:00 pm

id_sumatraquake_reuters.jpgFORUM-ASIA
expresses its deepest condolences and solidarity with victims and survivors of
the natural disasters currently affecting lives of people in Cambodia,
Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam, and the Pacific.

id_sumatraquake_reuters.jpg(Bangkok,
6 October 2009) The Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA)
expresses its deepest condolences and solidarity with victims and survivors of
the natural disasters currently affecting lives of people in Cambodia,
Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam, and the Pacific.

The powerful Typhoon Ketsana hit the Philippines on 29 September and continued
its way to Vietnam and Cambodia with a deadly force, wreaking havoc in the
Southeast Asia region. More than 3 million people were affected in the
aftermath of Ketsana, leaving a significant number of casualties in its path of
destruction. While Typhoon Parma, which directly followed Ketsana, spared the
flood-ravaged capital of Philippines, it forced at least 170,000 people out of
their homes in the northern region of the country. Although pre-emptive
evacuation moves by the Philippine government to achieve 'zero casualty' is
commendable, the use of police power to force the evacuation of residents from
vulnerable-disaster areas is a cause for concern.

In West Sumatra, Indonesia, the 7.6 Richter Scale (RS) earthquake that hit the
north of Padang city on 29 September claimed over 1,000 lives, and affected
nearly 400,000 people in Padang Pariaman district and 77,500 in Pariaman city.
This earthquake has leveled homes, mosques, hotels in Padang city, leaving a
severe shortage of food, shelter and clean water in the area. While the
Indonesian government and international aid agencies focus on delivering aid
and preventing disease outbreaks from dirty water and decomposing bodies still
trapped in buildings, we are concerned that many outlying villages have
expressed frustration that they had received little or no help at all.

Protection for the population affected by natural disasters encompasses all
relevant guarantees which include civil and political rights as well as
economic, social and cultural rights. These rights are attributed to the people
through fundamental human rights and international humanitarian law. We urge
governments to take concrete measures to eliminate all forms of discrimination,
especially against women and minorities, in the relief, humanitarian assistance
and development processes following the occurrence of these disasters. Evacuees
must be assured of their right of return. While the relief efforts of the
respective governments are commendable, it is crucial that the international
community keep the governments accountable in ensuring the survival and
physical security of all citizens.

FORUM-ASIA, a regional organisation with 46 members across Asia, would
like to express our gratitude to the NGOs in Southeast Asia, particularly the
work of our member organisations in this region who have mobilised a network of
people's organisations, NGOs, socio-political movements, human rights defenders
and so forth to coordinate relief, rehabilitation and reconstruction of physical,
social and political situations of the victims from these natural disasters.
Finally, FORUM-ASIA would like to encourage the international community to
maintain support and aid to the victims until a sustainable level of
self-reliance is achieved by the affected communities.

For further information,
please contact: 

  • Mr. Yap Swee Seng, Executive
    Director of the Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA)
    at yap@forum-asia.org
  • Ms. Yuyun Wahyumingrum,
    East Asia Program Manager of the Asian Forum for Human Rights and
    Development (FORUM-ASIA) at +66879914451, or at yuyun@forum-asia.org

 

(Photo courtesy of Reuters)