UN closes down humanitarian office in Sri Lanka


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The United Nations (UN) is downsizing its humanitarian staff in some Asian countries where Governments have stepped up with funds and manpower after a decade of massive floods, storms and earthquakes.

The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) will close in Papua New Guinea this month and Sri Lanka by the end of the year, while "radically downsizing" in Indonesia, said Oliver Lacey-Hall, the outgoing head of OCHA's Asia-Pacific office in Bangkok.

OCHA will maintain its regional office in Bangkok to help Governments to prepare for disasters and support coordination of assistance after disaster strikes.

“If we have a large-scale disaster in this region - as you saw in Nepal - boom, we’re in there. And we provide that support fairly rapidly,” Lacey-Hall said. OCHA’s Nepal office, which was meant to close this week, was scaled up from one person to more than 30 after the earthquakes in April and May.

He said the region’s success in setting up disaster management authorities stemmed in part from the 2005 Hyogo Framework for Action, guidelines adopted by Governments to reduce disaster risk and cope better with catastrophes.

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