Assistant-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator, Ursula Mueller, Chair’s Remarks at Panel Session on: Mexico Earthquake Response: Lessons for INSARAG Humanitarian Networks and Partnerships Week 2018
Geneva, Switzerland, 8 February 2018
Distinguished guests, it is a pleasure to be here with you today to discuss the important issue of how to apply lessons learned from recent urban search and rescue interventions following the Mexico Earthquake.
In the summer of 2017, Mexico was affected by an unprecedented number of natural hazards. Between August and September, the country bore the direct impact of seven tropical cyclones and two major earthquakes, affecting millions of people throughout the country.
These two earthquakes were incredibly destructive. The first, occurring on 7 September, and measuring 8.2 on the Richter Scale, affected the states of Chiapas and Oaxaca, and was the most powerful earthquake recorded in Mexico in 100 years, killing 98 people.
The second, a 7.1 earthquake on 19 September, caused even more damage, affecting Mexico City and the states of Morelos, Puebla, State of Mexico and Oaxaca, killing 369 people.
It must not have escaped most of those in the INSARAG community that this earthquake occurred on the exact date of the 1985 earthquake, which flattened parts of Mexico City and triggered one of the largest urban search and rescue (USAR) operations in history.
Indeed, it was this event, followed by the 1988 Armenia earthquake, that led to the creation of INSARAG.
This time, on 19 September 2017, the Mexican Foreign Minister, Mr. Luis Videgaray, was in New York for the 72nd session of the UN General Assembly. Within hours, he requested international assistance and was able to discuss offers of support with many of his counterparts in person.
He also spoke to the UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Mark Lowcock, about the mobilization of international USAR Teams to Mexico.
Nine international USAR teams were deployed from Colombia, Ecuador, El Salvador, Panama, Honduras, Israel, Japan, Spain and the United States.
The role of the Mexican Agency of International Cooperation for Development (AMEXCID) was central to their mobilisation.
We are very happy today to have with us Mr. Hector Uribe, Director of Humanitarian Aid of the Mexican International Cooperation and Development Agency, AMEXCID. I now hand over the floor to Mr. Uribe to kick off our panel discussion.