The Executive Director of UN-HABITAT, Mrs. Anna Tibaijuka, visited two of the towns in China’s Sichuan Province hit hardest by a recent earthquake from 13-15 August. She expressed her deep sympathy and solidarity with the victims and pledged support for recovery and reconstruction work in the area.
Wenchuan earthquake, which struck on May 12 measuring 8.0 on the Richter Scale, created a catastrophe, with 69,197 people confirmed dead, 374,176 injured, and 18,340 listed as missing. The earthquake left about 4.8 million people homeless and adversely affected another 10.5 million people in Sichuan and other provinces.
In Hanwang town, Mrs. Tibaijuka visited a turbine making factory, the main industrial operation that had to be relocated because workshops were destroyed. Most of the buildings in Hanwang town and Renhe village of Deyang City collapsed and the victims were moved into transit shelters.
The Executive Director visited one of the temporary shelter communities and talked to people living there. She said she was happy that victims had been given adequate attention and commended the Chinese Government and people for taking quick action to relieve suffering, ensuring that almost all the displaced people were sheltered.
“Natural disasters cannot be stopped. What is important is to minimize the impact and build back better,” she said. “We will share our experience of working in post disaster reconstruction in other countries such Indonesia and Pakistan.”
Mrs. Tibaijuka also visited Dujiangyan, a city with a population of 630,000. Some 80% of the buildings in this city have been condemned and people have been resettled temporarily in the transit shelters. Anhui province has built schools with prefabricated shelters. She visited class rooms and encouraged the students to work hard and overcome the difficulties. The students and teachers informed her that permanent schools will be ready for use by September 1, 2009.
The Vice Mayor of Dujiangyan, Mr. Wang Qing, briefed Mrs. Tibaijuka on the disaster recovery and reconstruction plan. The plan focuses on temporary shelters which have been built to resettle all victims in the city and construction of 60 schools and 30 hospitals will begin in September. He added that rehabilitation and reconstruction of infrastructures such as roads, water and energy were underway.
The Executive Director praised the work done in Dujiangyan City and invited the city to share its experience with other cities in the Fourth Session of World Urban Forum which will be held in Nanjing in November.
While in Chengdu, Mrs. Tibaijuka met the Deputy Secretary-General of Sichuan Provincial Government and announced that UN-HABITAT would donate US$50,000 for urban planning and reconstruction and would be ready to provide further technical support to the reconstruction efforts.