Jakarta, 23 December 2011

The Secretary-General of ASEAN, Dr Surin Pitsuwan, who is also the ASEAN Humanitarian Assistance Coordinator, has written a letter of condolence to Philippine Secretary of Foreign Affairs Albert F. Del Rosario, for the victims of Tropical Storm Sendong (Washi), which struck the Philippines on Dec 17. Dr Surin also conveyed the region’s readiness to assist Manila in their relief and recovery efforts.

“ASEAN, the ASEAN Coordinating Centre for Humanitarian Assistance on disaster management (AHA Centre) and the ASEAN Secretariat stand ready to assist the Philippines in the response and recovery efforts,” said Dr Surin in his letter. The Philippines declared a state of national calamity on 20 December 2011, due to the tropical storm.

Meanwhile, Indonesia as the Chair of ASEAN has also issued a Statement on the recent disaster to express ASEAN countries’ readiness in providing the Philippines with support and assistance to help bring about swift recovery, in accordance with the spirit of ASEAN solidarity. In this regard, ASEAN Secretariat is requested to work together with the AHA Centre to lend necessary support and assistance.

The AHA Centre, which was officially launched by the ASEAN Leaders on 17 November 2011 at the 19th ASEAN Summit in Bali, has been monitoring the situation in the Philippines closely and disseminating situation updates continuously. In close coordination with the focal point in the Philippines, AHA Centre has been advising the ASEAN countries and external partners on most needed relief assistance at this stage.

The AHA Centre is part of ASEAN’s commitment to strengthen collective response to disasters and to reduce disaster losses, under the legally-binding agreement, the ASEAN Agreement on Disaster Management and Emergency Response (AADMER). In 2007, ASEAN Foreign Ministers called for the Centre to be based in Jakarta, Indonesia. AHA Centre now aims to be the regional hub for information and knowledge for disaster management. It is the centre-point for mobilisation of resources to disaster-affected areas and the coordination engine to facilitate ASEAN’s collective response to disasters within the ASEAN region.