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Story Highlights

  • The Declaration proposes that sub-regional agencies continue piloting actions to develop mechanisms, tools, and harmonized procedures that will facilitate exchanges of experiences in humanitarian assistance.
  • Additionally, the Declaration invites international entities to maintain their support for the implementation of programmes at national and international levels that consolidate humanitarian assistance mechanisms.
  • Mr. Arscott described the conference as a “great experience (in) exchanging ideas (and) discussing solutions to problems we face collectively.”

Local Government and Community Development Minister, Hon. Noel Arscott, is anticipating that Jamaica’s emergency response capacity will be significantly boosted by the outcomes of the just concluded sixth International Mechanisms for Humanitarian Assistance (MIAH) conference, in Kingston.

Speaking at a press briefing at the conclusion of the conference’s third and final day of meetings on October 18, at the Jamaica Conference Centre, downtown Kingston, Mr. Arscott said these outcomes include an agreed set of action plans by participating delegates and officials, titled the “Kingston Declaration”, which are intended to enhance the coordination of emergency response interventions among various stakeholders at the national, sub-regional, regional, and global levels.

The Minister further informed that the Declaration proposes that sub-regional agencies continue piloting actions to develop mechanisms, tools, and harmonized procedures that will facilitate exchanges of experiences in humanitarian assistance.

This, he added, as part of the “comprehensive management actions for the integrated management of disaster risk, and strengthening official structures at national and regional levels.”

Additionally, Mr. Arscott said the Declaration invites international agencies and organizations to maintain their support for the implementation of programmes and projects at national and international levels that consolidate humanitarian assistance mechanisms.

“(It) speaks a lot to the South-South partnerships that we are developing, and (with) Jamaica, being vulnerable to disasters of all kinds, humanitarian response is a crucial part of what we have to do,” he indicated.

The Minister also noted that the Kingston Declaration’s provisions are consistent with the role that Jamaica can, and will play in the future, in emergency and humanitarian responses.

The three-day conference, which was held in the English-speaking Caribbean for the first time, was convened at the Jamaica Conference Centre from October 16 to 18, under the theme: “Strengthening Public and Private Partnerships, Toward a Common Regional Platform for Humanitarian Action”.

It was jointly staged by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), and the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM).

Over 130 officials and delegates, representing upwards of 10 organizations from some 30 Latin American and Caribbean countries, including Jamaica, met to discuss provisions under MIAH.

MIAH is a regional initiative designed to strengthen coordination and response mechanisms for the provision of humanitarian needs arising in Central and South American, and Caribbean nations.

Mr. Arscott described the conference as a “great experience (in) exchanging ideas (and) discussing solutions to problems we face collectively.”

“Jamaica will play a more active role in the quest for humanitarian assistance, development of resilience, and to deal with the effects of climate change,” he pointed out, adding that the country can now move to prepare improved response mechanisms, leading to the nation being more “robust” in its capacity to deal with disasters.

For her part, UN Under-Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator (USG/ERC), Valerie Amos, said the conference has put forward positions for a 2016 humanitarian meeting that will explore how governments can collaborate to deal with emergency response needs in a tight global economic environment.

“We talked through the challenges that we face in this region, particularly the rising number of disasters which are happening, and the huge loss of lives, and huge economic cost. I am particularly pleased that included in that Kingston Declaration, is a reference to the United Nations World Summit, which will take place in 2016. The purpose of that meeting is to look at the challenges facing the humanitarian system, and to come with key answers and solutions,” she stated