ASEAN-Emergency Rapid Assessment Team at Ground Zero in Mentawai
ASEAN Secretariat, 4 November 2010
The ASEAN-Emergency Rapid Assessment Team (ERAT) has been deployed to the Mentawai Islands in the western coast of Sumatra, Indonesia, to support the Government of Indonesia with its assessment efforts and to identify immediate needs in the affected areas. The prompt visit came after a tsunami devastated most of the islands on 25 October.
During the 7-day mission, the team worked with the Head and senior officials of Badan Penanggulangan Bencana Nasional (Indonesia’s National Agency for Disaster Management), local government officials, and the Indonesian National Armed Forces. The team also cooperated with volunteers and aid workers from local and international NGOs, such as SurfAid International and Télécoms Sans Frontières, which are supporting Indonesia’s rapid assessment and relief operations. The team also spent two days at ground zero and assessed the situation in South Pagai, one of the hardest-hit areas.
The team returned to Jakarta on 3 November to brief the Secretary-General of ASEAN, Dr Surin Pitsuwan, and ASEAN Secretariat officials, to discuss next steps forward.
The deployment to Mentawai is the third deployment of ASEAN-ERAT to disaster incidents coordinated by the ASEAN Committee on Disaster Management (ACDM), which comprises heads of national disaster management organisations in the ten ASEAN Member States. ASEAN-ERAT was first deployed to Myanmar following Cyclone Nargis in May 2008, and to Lao PDR following the floods in September-October 2009.
ASEAN-ERAT is one of the response tools of the ASEAN Agreement on Disaster Management and Emergency Response (AADMER), which entered into force on 24 December last year following ratification of the Agreement by all ten ASEAN Member States. Australia has been supporting the ACDM for the development of ASEAN-ERAT as well as the recent deployment to Mentawai.
Apart from the multiple disaster incidents in Indonesia, other ASEAN countries in the region are also suffering from disasters. Cyclone Giri made a landfall in the Rakhine State of Myanmar and Typhoon Megi struck the northern part of the Philippines. Meanwhile, 30 provinces in Thailand and hundreds of villages in Viet Nam are affected by floods.
In light of the multiple disasters in the region, the Secretary-General has written separate letters to the leaders of the affected fellow Member States to convey the region’s readiness to assist the countries in their relief and recovery efforts. “Our heart-felt sympathy is with the bereaved family and nation at this moment of grief,” he wrote.