The Disaster relief experts have long struggled to deliver aid quickly to remote disaster areas immediately following a catastrophe when overcoming transportation and logistics challenges can mean the difference between life and death. In an attempt to finally come closer to solving this problem, Kemal Dervis, Administrator of UNDP, Jan Egeland, UN Emergency Relief Coordinator, and Monika Wulf-Mathies, Managing Director of Corporate Public Policy and Sustainability at Deutsche Post World Net – parent company of DHL – signed a landmark Memorandum of Understanding that formalizes UN cooperation with DHL.
“This year we have seen enormous devastation from natural catastrophes and have learned many lessons about disaster response,” said UNDP Head, Kemal Dervis. “It is vital that international organizations delivering aid have the capacity to do so quickly and effectively to ensure a smoother road to long-term recovery.”
DHL has already led the Dubai-based Airport Emergency Team (AET), a team of logistics experts from different companies operating under the mandate of the Disaster Resource Network of the World Economic Forum. Under the leadership of DHL the AET provided airport freight handling expertise in sudden-onset disasters, a role it played in Colombo, Sri Lanka following the 2004 tsunami. In addition, DHL assisted the international community in responding to the 2003 earthquake in Bam, Iran, and the earthquake in Pakistan this past October.
DHL will now expand this operation by setting up its own global network of three DHL Disaster Response Teams. The first will be located in Singapore and is scheduled to be ready in the spring of 2006. Two other teams will be stationed to cover Middle East/Africa and Latin America/Caribbean. In the event of a major catastrophe, teams composed of specially trained DHL employees will help manage crucial logistics operations in airports close to the affected region. Each team will consist of up to 100 volunteers.
DHL will also support UNDP in its leadership role in reducing disaster risk and building national capacities to reduce this risk.
“The impact of disasters is increasing rapidly, resulting in growing demands on the UN System in disaster relief. We must therefore increase our disaster response capacity,” said United Nations Emergency Relief Coordinator Jan Egeland. “Logistics is often the linchpin in disaster response, the make or break. Getting help to people in need is critical and for this we need a smooth supply chain. Agreements with the private sector can help make this happen.”
“We are proud to support the United Nations in this important mission with our core competence in logistics and we will deliver help to wherever in the world it is needed,” said Monika Wulf-Mathies. “With our global reach, our presence in over 220 countries and territories, and our proven logistics competence, this partnership is the perfect way to demonstrate our strong commitment to Corporate Social Responsibility,” she added.
Ambassador Gunter Pleuger, Permanent Representative to the UN for Germany, also attended the ceremony.
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