Director General of UNESCO Regarding Earthquake in Peru

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Director General of UNESCO Regarding Earthquake in Peru

Director-General asserts UNESCO’s leadership in its fields of competence within the UN inter-agency relief and recovery efforts in Peru following the latest devastating earthquake


Following a powerful earthquake off the Peruvian coast on 15 August 2007, with a magnitude of 7.9 degrees on the Richter scale, extensive damages were inflicted to the city of Pisco, Chincha Alta and Ica, leaving some 500 people dead and over 30,000 families affected.


Immediately after the earthquake, Mr Koïchiro Matsuura, Director-General of UNESCO, conveyed his solidarity to the people of Peru. In a letter to President Alan Garcia, Mr Matsuura expressed his distress at the “cruel loss of so many lives” and offered his “sincere condolences and heartfelt sympathy to the families of the victims at this difficult time which the country is going through.”


According to the first reports, the tremors damaged around a thousand schools in the Ica region and some 300 in Canete, a province about 150 kilometres south of Lima. “UNESCO is at the disposal of the Peruvian government to cooperate in its fields of expertise, particularly in the restoration of educational spaces and cultural sites,” underscored the Director-General in the same letter.


Today, UNESCO is actively involved in the UN humanitarian response aimed at assisting the Peruvian authorities in urgent relief and recovery efforts. The Organization was appointed as Lead Agency in the field of Education in the Peru Flash Appeal, which was launched in Geneva on Tuesday, 28 August 2007.


As lead agency in this crucial field, UNESCO, in cooperation with UNICEF, UNDP and Save the Children, will advise and support the Peruvian government and coordinate inter-agency efforts for the immediate reactivation of educational services in affected areas and towards building back the education system as part of long-term recovery.


In order to initiate such efforts, UNESCO received an amount of USD 500,000 under the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF), to provide safe educational environments for school children in the post-earthquake emergency period. The Director-General appeals to the generosity of Member States to contribute meeting outstanding requirements (USD 1,273,859), in order for UNESCO to fully assist in the post-earthquake relief and recovery process led by the Peruvian authorities.


In the field of culture, no reports of major damage to World Heritage sites have been received so far, but emergency financial assistance from the World Heritage Fund has been offered to the authorities concerned to assess and deal with the situation. An assessment mission to potentially affected sites will be fielded by UNESCO World Heritage Centre in the coming weeks.