UN in Tajikistan celebrates World Humanitarian Day: Interview with UNRC Ms. Pratibha Mehta

Aug 25, 2017

UN Resident Coordinator in Tajikistan, Ms. Pratibha Mehta

On August 19, World Humanitarian Day proclaimed by the UN General Assembly is celebrated to honor humanitarian workers who stand for the implementation of humanitarian assistance and for those who have given their lives. In honor of this date, we met with the UN Resident Coordinator in Tajikistan, Ms. Pratibha Mehta, who told us about the humanitarian activities of the UN in Tajikistan.

Ms. Pratibha Mehta, why did the World Humanitarian Day fall on the 19th of August?

- This date was chosen not by chance, but it coincides with the date of bombing of the UN mission headquarters in Bagdad in Iraq in 2003, when several UN personnel, including the Special Representative of the Secretary-General, were killed and several were seriously injured.

What is the difference between humanitarian aid and other international aid?

- Humanitarian aid is for life saving and early recovery needs of population affected by natural disasters, wars, etc. For example, in 2015 Tajikistan faced a major flood which resulted in some loss of lives, large number lost their homes, crops and livelihoods and were left with no means to cope with life and fend for themselves.  The UN in Tajikistan did not stand aside from this disaster, and acted quickly to mobilize resources to  assist affected people with    with food, drinking water, medicines, tents, etc.

In addition to humanitarian assistance, the UN in Tajikistan largely supports medium to long-term development. For example, we support delivery of health and education services; build institutional and human capacity for disaster risk reduction; creation of livelihoods and jobs, border control and management; food security, etc.

 What humanitarian work is undertaken by UN in Tajikistan?

- Tajikistan is highly prone to natural disasters and the impact of climate change. Annually the country faces small and medium-scale natural disasters like floods, mudflows, etc. The UN in Tajikistan is supporting Tajikistan in preparedness and emergency response planning; capacity development so the country can respond to any crisis situation. UN manages warehouse equipped with life-saving supplies, available on demand, when government alone cannot cope with the crisis. The UN can extend support. We have also provided necessary equipment for search and rescue missions to help search and rescue people after mudflows and floods; we have provided early warning systems, so the government can anticipate and take actions to ensure minimum casualties and damage.

Which state bodies UN cooperates within the area of disaster management?

- Our most important partner, with whom we closely cooperate, is the Committee for Emergency Situations and Civil Defense (CoES), because they are authorized by the Government of Tajikistan to respond to emergencies. Every three months, Chairman of COES and I convene a meeting of REACT (rapid emergency assessment and coordination team) which includes UN Agencies, partners from NGOs with humanitarian mandate, and donors. REACT is an important mechanism that allows all interested parties to engage in dialogue and cooperate in emergency preparedness and planning.

In conclusion, please congratulate your colleagues on the World Humanitarian Day.

- I would like to thank all Tajik humanitarian aid workers on this World Humanitarian for the fantastic work they are doing all year around which has helped save many lives and property.   In my opinion, every day should be humanitarian day.  At the same time, on this particular day, we must also honor those who lost their lives while selflessly helping others and who are continuing to work in  very difficult conditions for the benefit of saving the lives of others.  

Read the interview in Russian on: https://news.tj/ru/news/tajikistan/society/20170825/oon-v-tadzhikistane-otmetila-vsemirnii-den-gumanitarnoi-pomotshi#article-likeblock

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