The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has earmarked $ 1 million to identify and address the environmental impacts of the tsunami that hit the South-East Asian countries on December 26. It will also send environmental experts to the affected areas to assess the damage.
The UNEP is also mobilising its remote sensing and GIS capacities, in collaboration with other U.N. agencies.
UN has created a task force in Geneva to coordinate the inputs from the UNEP system to identify and address the environmental impacts, and to support the efforts of the affected countries and the United Nations.
The UNEP has mobilised the $ 1 million for immediate needs identified by the region’s governments. “Our support echoes directly the requests from national authorities for environmental experts to assess and mitigate the urgent problems. Therefore we are sending experts to work with the Governments and the U.N. country teams,” the UNEP executive director, Klaus Toepfer, said in a statement.
The organisation has also strengthened its Bangkok office, which is responsible for activities in the Asia-Pacific region. “While the focus is to save lives and fight diseases, it is also important to address underlying risks, such as solid and liquid waste, industrial chemicals, sewage treatment and the salinisation of drinking water. The damage to ports and industrial infrastructure may be severe, with untold risks to human health. Likewise, revitalising local communities and their livelihoods will require rehabilitating and protecting vital natural ecosystems, in particular mangrove forests and coral reefs,” Mr. Toepfer said.