UN offers help, condolences to Japan
Mar 11, 2011, 18:25 GMT
New York/Geneva - The United Nations Security Council held a moment of silence Friday for the people killed by the deadly earthquake and tsunami in Japan, while UN agencies offered assistance to Tokyo's rescue and relief operations.
The 15-country Security Council expressed its 'deepest sympathies and heartfelt condolences' to families of the victims and to the government and Japanese people, said China's UN Ambassador Li Baodong, council president for March.
In Geneva and some Asian capitals, the UN hub and groups specialized disaster rescue operations had quick reactions. From the International Committee of the Red Cross to UN emergency relief officials, offers to help have been sent to Tokyo.
The Japanese government said it has received offers from dozens of countries.
In New York, the Security Council met, and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said the UN stands ready to provide help.
'On behalf of the United Nations, I want to express my deepest sympathies and heartfelt condolences to the Japanese people and government, most especially those who lost family and friends in the earthquake and subsequent tsunamis,' Ban said.
'The UN stands by the people of Japan, and we will do anything and everything we can at this very difficult time.'
He said that Japan has been one of the UN's strongest supporters.
'I sincerely hope that under the leadership of Prime Minister Kan Naoto and the full support and solidarity of the international community, the Japanese people and government will be able to overcome this difficult time as soon as possible,' Ban said.
In Geneva, the UN, as well as the Red Cross and other non- governmental organizations said that 62 international disaster response teams were put on high alert and ready to travel to Japan if needed. The teams could be moved to offer relief to victims of tsunami waves if such a situation develops.
The global network of Red Cross societies was using its early warning system across Asia-Pacific nations, in an effort to move people to safety following a tsunami alert.
Low-lying Pacific island-nations were of particular concern. Red Cross teams in Palau have been alerted, and emergency response teams in Fiji were preparing to act.
'International teams are on full alert, and 62 international search and rescue teams are monitoring the situation and stand ready to assist,' said Elisabeth Byrs, a spokeswoman for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Geneva.
The International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) said it was helping to coordinate alerts across the region.
'We are keeping a very close eye on the situation. It is a question of waiting and seeing - and seeing how it evolves in the Philippines, Indonesia and countries elsewhere in Asia that are more vulnerable,' said spokesman Patrick Fuller by telephone from Kuala Lumpur, where the IFRC has its regional hub.
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