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India wants liberalising visas for disaster relief teams

Posted on Nov 08, 07:25PM | IANS

Advocating liberalised grant of visas for disaster relief teams, India Thursday asked the 18 member nations of East Asia Summit to create a framework for coordination of international assistance during natural disasters such as earthquakes.

Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde, inaugurating a two-day 'EAS-India Workshop 2012 on Building Regional Framework for Earthquake Risk Management' here, said a common understanding of protocols of aid during a natural calamity would pave the way for smoother global response to disasters.

"A common understanding of procedures and protocol for the assistance would be a valuable step forward. It should include a system whereby search and rescue teams should get visa and airport facilitation on an immediate basis," Shinde said.

The event was attended by officials of the national disaster management authorities of the 18 East Asia Summit (EAS) member-nations, including India.

Medical aid should reach the victims of natural disasters without delay and so should food and clothing, he said.

"We can benefit a lot from practical hands-on understanding among countries about how to channelise humanitarian assistance," he said.

Calling for assessing earthquake risks with greater precision, the home minister said: "though we cannot forecast earthquakes, we should have a clear idea about the regions which can expect earthquakes of a certain magnitude and intensity".