Qatari Deputy Premier Addresses ‘HOPEFOR’ Conference

Antalya, Turkey, November 28 (QNA) – HE Deputy Premier and Minister of State for Cabinet Affairs Ahmed bin Abdullah Al Mahmoud has underlined that the formation of a working group chaired by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the membership of the Defense Ministry, the Interior Ministry and the Internal Security Forces is  to complete the procedures to establish a center of excellence in Doha, which covers the Middle East and West Asia in order to improve the use of military and civil defense assets in disaster relief operations and strengthen coordination and regional cooperation in this area and provide a global framework for capacity-building and filling gaps in the field of disaster response in the region, in implementation of what has been announced in The first conference on  the (HOPEFOR) initiative, which was held in Doha in November last year.
This came in a speech delivered by HE Al Mahmoud  at the opening session of the Second International Conference on the initiative (HOPEFOR), which kicked off today in the Turkish city of Antalya, in the presence of a number of senior officials in the Turkish Republic with wide regional and international  participation.
HE Al Mahmoud explained in his speech that the State of Qatar under the leadership of HH the Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, and HH the Heir Apparent  Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, has made sincere and  vigorous efforts  since the start of the (HOPEFOR) initiative, where  in-depth consultations were held  through the organization of sessions and workshops in Doha and New York, with a wide range of stakeholders and in close cooperation with the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs of the United Nations, in order to further enhance the initiative, and find the best means to meet the needs and the growing burden placed on military and civil defense of the relief operations and humanitarian aid .
HE Al Mahmoud  highlighted  the (HOPEFOR) goals  launched by HE Qatar’s Prime Minister and Foreign Minister  Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabor Al Thani in June 2010 in New York as well as the consultations and efforts to make this humanitarian initiative a reality. He added  that the Assembly General of the United Nations at  its 65th  session, adopted by consensus, the resolution No. 65/307, entitled “Strengthening the effectiveness and coordination of the use of  military and civil defense assets to cope with natural disasters.”
He pointed out that this decision came as culmination of the efforts made by the State of Qatar, Turkey, and the Dominican Republic, in mobilizing the necessary support for the initiative with both Member States and interested organizations, where the international community recognized the importance of strengthening disaster preparedness by establishing regional and international partnerships, as emphasis was also placed on the fundamentally civilian character of humanitarian assistance, and the need to use military capacity and assets in the event of natural disasters to support the delivery of humanitarian assistance with the consent of the affected State and in accordance with international law, including international humanitarian law, and the principles of humanity, he noted.
HE Al Mahmoud  praised in this context, the role of the United Nations system, represented by the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, to achieve significant results on the ground by providing and coordinating humanitarian relief, in addition to many of the other actors that play an important role in the humanitarian field. 
HE the Deputy Premier and Minister of State for Cabinet Affairs Ahmed bin Abdullah Al Mahmoud  spoke  about the relationship between climate change and natural disasters, noting in this regard  the 18th United Nations Conference on climate change, currently  hosted by Doha to discuss a package of policies and agreements that aim to meet challenge of global climate change and greenhouse gas emissions.
HE Al Mahmoud  said that climate change has led to increased frequency of extreme weather such as droughts, floods, hurricanes, and global warming in different parts of the world. And because of that the world today is undergoing such  disasters, where  many countries in recent years had suffered natural disasters resulted in  devastating  infrastructure, environmental and economic infrastructure of  these countries, and caused heavy losses of human lives, he said .
He pointed out that Qatar is currently hosting the 18th United Nations Conference  of climate change in collaboration with the United Nations to discuss a package of policies and agreements that aim to meet the challenge of global climate change and greenhouse gas emissions, stressing that despite of these devastating effects, there is still the possibility for states to afford  these effects at  lowest possible loss, and recover from them through governments invest in the prevention of natural disasters, and to give priority to strengthening the capacities of preparedness and disaster preparedness, and show flexibility in dealing with this challenge by knowing how to make good decisions about risk management climate-related disasters and network configuration of civilian and military practitioners to be able to make good decisions, HE Al Mahmoud underlined.
He stressed that it is also important to monitor  relief practices  and response to natural disasters, as well as the dissemination of culture on military and civil cooperation.  HE Al Mahmoud  called  for  discussing  how to establish an effective relationship between humanitarian organizations and the military, based on fundamental principles such as integrity, impartiality , in order to respond effectively to natural disasters.
HE Al Mahmoud  added: “I would like to reaffirm that the primary responsibility for providing humanitarian assistance to any area rests with the affected State, and that the approval of this state with respect for their sovereignty, is inevitable and necessary to provide any assistance from other state-specific, and according to international law.”
He said  that developing countries suffer more from natural disasters because they lack the funding and financial resources needed to deal efficiently and quickly and adapt to these challenges.
HE Al Mahmoud  underscored  that any progress in this area depends on effective partnerships, and to work together to meet this challenge , stressing  the need to unite the efforts of regional centers of excellence, and work under one umbrella in order to avoid exhaustion of resources, as there is also a need for governments to rehabilitate rescue teams moving in a couple of hours of the occurrence of a natural disaster, he noted.
 Qatar will  chair  the third panel discussion of the conference, which will be held tomorrow, Thursday,  to discuss the cooperation and civil-military coordination in the field of disaster. (END)

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