REPUBLIKA.CO.ID, JAKARTA -- ASEAN Secretary General Le Luong Minh contacted Secretary of Foreign Affairs of the Philippines Albert Del Rosario to inform the latter that he is ready to facilitate ASEAN cooperation and coordination through the ASEAN Coordinating Centre for Humanitarian Assistance on disaster management (AHA Centre) to help victims of Typhoon Haiyan.
"The ASEAN stands shoulder-to-shoulder with the Philippines in these difficult times and we are ready to show the ASEAN spirit of a caring community to affected populations in the country," Secretary General Minh in his capacity as ASEAN Humanitarian Assistance Coordinator, said in a statement posted on the Jakarta-based ASEAN Secretariat's official website on Monday.
In a letter sent to Secretary Del Rosario, the ASEAN Secretary-General expressed "great concern and sadness" over the devastation wrought by super typhoon Haiyan which slammed central Philippines on Friday.
The ASEAN Leaders at the 14th ASEAN Summit in March 2009 entrusted the ASEAN Secretary-General to serve as the ASEAN Humanitarian Assistance Coordinator, who can be activated any time at the request of the affected ASEAN Member State in the event of a major disaster, whether it be a natural disaster or a pandemic.
This includes working closely with the Jakarta-based AHA Centre, which is the ASEAN's operational engine in monitoring disasters region-wide and coordinating ASEAN's emergency response.
"Within the framework of the ASEAN Agreement on Disaster Management and Emergency Response (AADMER), we are working closely with the AHA Centre to ensure ASEAN's effective response to the disaster," he added.
An additional ASEAN group which consists of the AHA Centre Field Team Leader, ERAT members from Brunei Darussalam, and a representative from AADMER Partnership Group arrived in Tacloban on Sunday which was reported to be the hardest hit by this super typhoon.
The ASEAN team will assess immediate assistance needed by the disaster management authorities and affected communities. The results of the assessment will be shared to ASEAN Member States and potential assisting entities to help them decide the types of assistance to be provided.
Upon hearing the news of disaster in the Philippines, the ASEAN Chief conveyed to Secretary Del Rosario his "heartfelt sympathy with the affected communities and whole nation during these trying times."