Manama: Qatar has called for the establishment of a global humanitarian operation force (HOPEFOR) that will bring hope and emergency relief to the victims of natural disasters.
"I propose the establishment of a Humanitarian Operation Force also known as HOPEFOR," saidPrime Minister and Foreign Minister Shaikh Hamad Bin Jasem Al Thani. "Such a force would draw on existing military and civil resources, material and human, to bring hope and emergency relief quickly and efficiently to the victims of natural disasters - staying long enough to close the so-called 'humanitarian gap'," he told the International Peace Institute in New York.
The HOPE force would build on lessons learned from similar initiatives, like stand-by high-readiness humanitarian brigades, existing disaster relief forces, and other proposals that have been made to create a humanitarian rapid reaction force, he said in his lecture.
"I foresee that HOPEFOR would have a small, permanent headquarters to act as the nerve-centre for rapid deployment, to coordinate certified training, and to keep track of committed assets around the world which have been ear-marked for HOPEFOR's possible use. It would ensure sufficient regional coverage to provide well-equipped and well-trained rapid humanitarian deployment at short notice, anywhere in the world," Shaikh Hamad said, quoted by Qatar News Agency (QNA).
In response to a humanitarian crisis, HOPEFOR would establish a rapidly deployable field headquarters, augmented by regional experts, capable of assisting local area emergency management, together with national authorities, and would cooperate with civil society, NGOs and other humanitarian actors.
However, the minister said that "because HOPEFOR is different, it must look and act differently."
"We must recognise that, when deployed in disaster relief, the military - due to its traditional role - is sometimes perceived as a threat by local inhabitants, or civil society, even though it has the best intentions.
"HOPEFOR personnel would therefore have a distinctive coloured helmet, beret, shoulder flash and vehicle marking to identify them as a visible force for good and to insist an ethic of humanitarian assistance and pride in delivering hope - among those serving in HOPEFOR operations."
Shaikh Hamad said he anticipated that the initiative would receive considerable support, especially that no country is immune or can cope with destructive forces alone.
"Indeed, a number of foreign ministers that I have spoken to about HOPEFOR are very enthusiastic. We shall continue with our consultations at this level in order to explore the possibility of creating HOPEFOR. Certainly, we shall draw on the work of experts on this field. Based on the opinions made in the consultations and the expert opinion, we shall present the ideas and opinions to a meeting along the side of the next session of the General Assembly of the UN to which we shall invite all member states, in an effort to carryout the idea."
The prime minister said the success of HOPEFOR requires participating states or organizations that will commit to have their forces trained to the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) standards.
"It will also require contributing states which make a firm advance commitment of deployable assets. And it will have to be sufficiently funded. By establishing a humanitarian operation force along these lines, I am confident that we will be in a better position to deliver hope and save lives after humanitarian disasters," he said.