June 2, 2008
The earthquake of May 12th, 2008, whose epicentre was located in Wenchuan in the Sichuan region, spread over 10 provinces and regions. We all know about its magnitude and consequences : tens of thousands of deaths, multiple destructions, five million people left homeless, further threats with the degradation of the dams.
A huge relief effort was called upon in China and abroad. European medias, usually very critical towards the Chinese government, greeted the scope, efficiency and rapidity of their reaction. As it is mostly the case in natural disasters, people in the devastated area, despite the trauma and the anxiety, seize themselves quickly and help each other.
The China-Europa Forum, since its second biennal conference in 2007, has become a unique space for the dialogue between the Chinese and European societies. For this reason, and I hope you will agree, it cannot remain silent when such a catastrophe strikes the Chinese society. The question is, in my view, how our solidarity can be expressed in a meaningful and efficient way.
Our main duty is to learn from past experiences. On the DPH website (www.d-p-h.info) you can find some 50 experience reports, mostly in French and Spanish (sorry for English speakers), written by the Association « International Emergency Action » and related to experiences in Japan, South and North America,…
This international experience tends to prove that the major challenge is not that of short-term reaction. Local population and authorities are in a better position to manage and address the short-term situations. Besides calls for support always meet national and international sympathy and financial and material means for emergency relief rarely fall short.
The major challenge is more on the mid-term : how to rebuild, how to recreate the economy, how to avoid that temporary settling of population lasts, how to prevent that solutions coming from the outside prevail and contradict the needs and wishes of local population, how to prevent that measures taken at the time of the quake eventually bounce back on the disaster victims and on the most exposed, how to make sure that fast-paced modernization, resulting almost inevitably from destructions, take into account the real needs of local population,…
These questions, in my view, show the genuine aim of the Forum which is to contribute to a sustainable reconstruction in the region, in the mid-term. The Forum is not meant to collect and forward to the local population the necessary means for emergency actions.
The Forum Chinese participants belong to various socioprofessional groups and have very diversified professional competencies. We should encourage them to contact their colleagues and partners in the affected area and finetune with them what the needs for the mid term reconstruction effort are.
Our foundation used a similar approach during the 2005 tsunami. We laid on the Fishermen Global Forum to work with the fishermen affected by the tsunami and helped them rebuild their fishing material and capacity.
On the European side, I suggest that we lay on the China Europa foundation, recently created in Switzerland with an office in Paris and whose aim is to coordinate the Forum actions in Europe. The foundation could collect the donations on a special account dedicated to this purpose « Solidarity with the Sichuan population ».
The donations could be completed by a formal commitment, in working hours, so that the European participants can offer their time to their Chinese colleagues in the reconstruction effort.
The management of the donations will be fully transparent. On the website you will be able to follow how the funds are gradually used, according to the true needs of the population in the mid-term. The fph will grant the management of the funds.
Donations can be made by money transfer to:
Bank name and address :
LOMBARD ODIER DARIER HENTSCH & Cie
11, rue de la Corraterie – CH 1204 GENEVE -SUISSE
Beneficiary: Fondation China Europa Forum “Solidarité”
IBAN : CH11 0876 00000 500452 A0
BIC : LOCYCHGG
Should you prefer to express your solidarity by making donations for emergency actions, we recommend that you send your contribution to organizations specialised in this field in your country or directly to the Chinese Red Cross:
Account Bank Information of RCSC (Chinese Red Cross):
Account N°: 7112111482600000209
Name: China CITIC Bank – Beijing Jiuxianqiao Sub-Branch
Address: C&W Tower. No.14, Jiuxianqiao Street, Chaoyang District?Beijing, China – Zip Code: 100016
Tel: + 86-10-64319780
If you donate, please leave your address and telephone number for contact.
Find this call on www.radio86.frAuthor : Pierre Calame