Statement to the press at the opening of the International Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons - OCHA Director Geneva, Rashid Khalikov
Oslo, 4 March 2013
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This conference focuses on the humanitarian impact of a nuclear weapon detonation. Over the next two days, we will discuss what the international humanitarian community can realistically do to prepare for, and respond to, such an event.
This is an issue which has received too little attention up till now. This conference will no doubt re-focus our collective efforts and I thank Foreign Minister Eide and the Government of Norway for convening this important event.
OCHA is mandated to support United Nations Member States with preparedness and coordination of international response to disasters and emergencies. When called upon, we support humanitarian agencies in saving lives, mitigating human suffering and providing urgent assistance.
The humanitarian consequences of a nuclear attack or an accidental nuclear blast are potentially devastating and catastrophic.
Thankfully, we have not had to respond to the aftermath of a nuclear weapon detonation. But we need to collectively consider the extent to which we can – as a humanitarian system – effectively respond to such a crisis.
By bringing relevant experts and chief humanitarian experts together here in Oslo, this conference is a critical opportunity to begin charting the way forward.
It is clear though, that if we cannot respond effectively – and our initial assessment is that we cannot – then it underlines our common responsibility to do everything we can to prevent the use of these weapons.