24 April 2006

United Nations Helps Train DHL Disaster Response Team

SINGAPORE/NEW YORK, 21 April (OCHA) -- The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) today took part in launching the DHL Disaster Response Team (DRT) in Singapore.  The DRT is a pool of some 80 DHL experts, specially trained to ensure that relief supplies reach people quickly and effectively in the case of a major natural disaster.

"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," said United Nations Emergency Relief Coordinator Jan Egeland.

Primary responsibility for responding to disasters, including managing logistics, rests with the Governments of the affected countries.  However, even the most powerful countries can be overwhelmed by the needs arising from major disasters.  The DRTs will help supplement national efforts.  Comprised of regular DHL employees who have volunteered to take part in the DRTs' humanitarian work, the Teams will aim to reduce bottlenecks at airports close to the scene of a major natural disaster, by helping to organize the handling, warehousing and loading of relief supplies for onward transportation in an effective manner.  Each DRT will normally be deployable for a period of up to three weeks following a major natural disaster.

"By setting up Disaster Response Teams, DHL is enhancing its commitment to support the United Nations and the international community's humanitarian work on a long-term basis," said Dr. Klaus Zumwinkel, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Deutsche Post World Net, mother company of DHL.  "We are committed to sharing our core competence in logistics and our manpower in order to achieve this goal," added Scott Price, Chief Executive Officer, DHL Express Asia Pacific.

Singapore has been chosen as the site for the South Asia DRT, due to its central location in the region and its excellent telecommunications and logistics infrastructure.  "The Singapore Government welcomes this initiative by DHL.  It is heartening to see a private sector company like DHL showing such a high level of commitment to help those affected by these disasters," said Dr. Vivian Balakrishnan, Singapore Minister for Community Development, Youth and Sports and Second Minister for Trade and Industry, and the patron of the DRT in Singapore.

"This cooperation underlines the important role that companies can play in complementing the UN's programmes to benefit more people across the world," said Puji Pujiono, Regional Disaster Response Advisor for Asia, United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

DHL employees were actively engaged in providing humanitarian assistance in the aftermath of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, after Hurricane Katrina in the United States in the summer of 2005, and following last year's South Asian earthquake in Pakistan.  In December 2005, DHL entered into a partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and OCHA in the area of disaster management.  It is the aim of DHL and OCHA to establish a global network of Disaster Response Teams.

The next Disaster Response Team will be established in Miami, Florida.  It will cover the Latin America and Caribbean regions.  The Disaster Response Teams' services are provided as an in-kind donation.  In addition to the existing work in the field of disaster response, the strategic partnership between DHL and the United Nations System will also cover other areas of disaster management, such as disaster preparedness.

For further information, please call:  Stephanie Bunker, OCHA-New York, +1 917 367 5126, mobile +1 917 892 1679; Kristen Knutson, OCHA-New York, +1 917 367 9262; Elisabeth Byrs, OCHA-Geneva, +41 22 917 2653, mobile, +41 79 473 4570.

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