Mr Seji Saji, the Deputy Director General of NADMO said there was the need for ECOWAS to reinforce its role and mandate in humanitarian response and coordination in the sub-region by setting up dedicated funds for the management of disaster emergencies at the strategic level through the development of common strategies, priorities and shared goals.
He said additionally, ECOWAS must also have a data base of all the humanitarian assistance capacities of all members to know which Member State to fall on for a particular support.
Mr Seji Saji made the appeal in a keynote address at the opening of the fourth edition of the Humanitarian Assistance in West Africa Core Course at the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre (KAIPTC) in Accra.
The course seeks to address the need for coordinated measures and mutual understanding between civilian, military and police actors in humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.
The course is jointly organized by KAIPTC and the Austrian Study Centre for Peace and Conflict Resolution (ASPR), supported by the Austrian Development Agency (ADA) and the Austrian Ministry of Defense and Sports (MODS).
The course is being attendant by 25 participants from 16 countries across Africa.
Mr Seji Saji said ECOWAS states could develop a common sub-regional response mechanism through better coordination rather than the ad-hoc responses experienced recently in Sierra Leone.
“It will also help identify existing gaps in the sub-regional response capacity and develop mechanisms to address them.
“A standby and well-resourced sub-regional emergency response team capable of responding timely and efficiently to all hazards when required would help mitigate the impact of emergencies.
“The recent flood and landslide in Freetown brings to the fore the need for such a standby team backed by a sub-regional disaster response and contingency plans, as well as standard operating procedures,” Mr Seji Saji added.
Professor Alois A. Hirschmugl, the Humanitarian Affairs Advisor to the Austrian Defence Staff, cited the Democratic Republic of Congo, where 14,400 internally displaced people (IDP) were in need of cross sectoral assistance in Mamabasa.
He said in Somalia 100,000 IDP were affected by forced evictions in 2017 triggered across sectoral needs.
He also noted that, in the Central African Republic, 15,000 IDP from Bocaranga had no access to aid.
He said worldwide, there were about 60 million refugees and more than 125 million people in need of humanitarian assistance.
“This course should be one of the answers for those who are suffering most after emergencies as mentioned before,” he said.
Air Vice Marshal Griffith S. Evans, the KAIPTC Commandant, in his welcome address said the course would prepare the participants to know the means and opportunities that they would meet when performing duties as humanitarian assistants.
He said today in Africa, there were over 200,000 million people who leave in abject poverty; stating that “not only are they in poverty but also they are fraught with plagues and problems and natural disasters and other calamities.
“Not only that, but they also have in addition, socio-political problems that have worsened their problems”.
He said the course was designed to meet the ECOWAS Humanitarian Policy, and that it was in tandem with the Oslo Guidelines