When speaking before the ASEAN Regional Forum on Disaster Relief Exercise (ARF DIREX) 2011 here on Tuesday Indonesian Vice President Boediono said "we have not forgotten the tsunami in the Indian Ocean that claimed thousands of lives in Indonesia, India, Sri Lanka and Thailand in 2004. Now it has struck Japan. This shows just how important regional cooperation and disaster management is."
Boediono said almost all member countries of the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) are located in the Ring of Fire that have often seen volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, tsunami, floods and landslides.
He said natural disasters have often happened in the past few years with higher intensity posing a big challenge. He said this has now become a common challenge needed the attention of international community.
In view of that he viewed the ARF DIREX as a good response to improve management and coordination among regional offices concerned.
"We must build cooperation closer and more integratedly to deal with natural disasters. Our target is ability to respond disasters correctly," he said.
Indonesia`s defense minister Purnomo Yusgiantoro meanwhile said at the opening speech that the ARF DIREX joint exercise would also increase cooperation and coordination between military and civilians in disaster handling.
He said in the exercise that would also involve use of military hardware would also boost synergy between the military and civilians that would speed up disaster handling and improve its quality.
The ARF DIREX is attended by participants from 20 countries. Japan`s deputy foreign minister Makiko Kikuta as co-chairman of the exercise also addressed the ceremony. The Japanese delegation had withdrawn its participation due to the earthquake and tsunami engulfing their country on Friday, Syamsul Mu`arif who is the chief of the National Disaster Management Agency (BNPB) said.(*)