Statement by H.E. Y. Halit Çevik, Permanent Representative of Turkey to the United Nations, in the HOPEFOR Briefing to Member Sates

Y. Halit Çevik 22.10.2013
Ladies and Gentlemen,

At the outset, I would like to thank the Permanent Mission of the Dominican Republic and United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs for organizing this meeting and for their briefings.

Distinguished Guests,

We are all aware that preparedness minimizes negative effects of disasters. The international community is striving hard to build capacities to that effect. Yet, it is still not possible to completely spare ourselves from the damages they inflict upon us. It is therefore imperative that we must have capabilities to rapidly and effectively respond to disasters. We must also share our knowledge, experience and expertise with each other to strengthen our resilience and capacity.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Turkey suffered heavily from the earthquake that struck northwestern Turkey in 1999. It was the largest in Turkish history in terms of loss of life and damage.

Drawing from the bitter lessons of this large-scale catastrophe, we started developing and implementing policies on resilience, preparedness and response. We initiated a project titled “İstanbul Seismic Risk Mitigation and Emergency Preparedness Project”, known with its acronym İSMEP. The project aims to strengthen the transportation and communication infrastructure, raise awareness among public and solidify public buildings against earthquakes. We also reviewed our legislation in order to provide for an integrated approach. We established “Disaster and Emergency Management Agency” (AFAD) and mandated AFAD to coordinate disaster preparedness and response efforts as well as humanitarian assistance. “Humanitarian Assistance Brigade”, a specialized unit under Turkish Armed Forces, was set up to provide rapid life-saving support in disasters, in coordination with civil humanitarian aid elements.

The earthquake that struck Eastern Turkey in October 2011 was a test case for us. Our response speed was much faster, coordination much better and damage much smaller, affirming our success in our efforts.

Turkey is willing to share its experiences and expertise, and is also eager to learn from the experiences of others.

It is with this understanding that Turkey, along with Dominican Republic and Qatar, has become a co-sponsor of the HOPEFOR Initiative.

As part of our partnership in the HOPEFOR, we hosted the Second International HOPEFOR Conference in November 2012. The Conference recommended the following:

- To bring national legislation in line with Oslo Guidelines,

- To establish national Military-Civil Defence Asset Teams to improve coordination and efficiency of these elements at times of disasters,

- To create pools of civil-military coordination experts at regional level, to be immediately deployed to disaster areas upon request,

- To establish international, regional and national centers of excellence on civil-military coordination and to create a network of these centers.

It is promising to see that there is progress on the implementation of these outcomes. The undertaking to establish a Center of Excellence in Turkey is such an example.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

We believe that the upcoming HOPEFOR Conference in the Dominican Republic will further contribute to our common efforts to deal with disasters. I would like to thank the Dominican Republic for hosting this Conference.

In conclusion, let me state that in the process leading up to the World Humanitarian Summit to be held in Turkey in 2016, inclusive and broad-based discussion on humanitarian issues, such as the HOPEFOR Initiative, will be essential in providing the humanitarian community with critical inputs and insight. We are therefore looking forward to your active participation in the upcoming Conference in the Dominican Republic.

I thank you for your attention.