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Myanmar launches first crisis management centre

Myanmar will launch its first crisis management centre on Wednesday to help authorities react more quickly and effectively to emergencies. Funded by the European Union, and costing some 300,000 euros, it will be based in Myanmar's capital, Nay Pyi Taw.

YANGON: Myanmar will on Wednesday launch a crisis management centre, the first of its kind in the country.

Funded by the European Union, and costing some 300,000 euros, it will be based in Myanmar's capital, Nay Pyi Taw.

The centre will help Myanmar's authorities react more quickly and effectively to emergencies.

The EU is also providing training to the centre personnel on how to operate such a facility.

Roland Kobia, EU ambassador to Myanmar, said: "Emergency response is a very complicated thing that needs a lot of coordination between different services.

“It will be for natural disasters and emergencies, and man-made disasters and emergencies. It has the two angles to it - to try to prevent and to try to cure."

Tackling a crisis efficiently hasn't always been easy for Myanmar, with a population of 60 million people.

When cyclone Nargis hit the country in 2008, the response could have been better managed, according to Kobia.

"There was a bit of a slow reaction to what happened. So I would believe that such a centre, that brings a capability that is already there and who knows how to work together between the different actors, the response to, in this case, a natural disaster, would be much quicker and you would have less loss of lives."

But some are not convinced that a central response centre will work.

They believe that improving coordination at grassroots level is more vital.

Aung Thu Nyein, senior research associate at Centre for Economic and Social Development, said: "When a crisis happens, the immediate response from the local communities as well as local officials is more important.

“If the centre is based in Nay Pyi Taw and people have to wait for their response, the communication line is too long."

Currently, during a crisis, various parties, such as law enforcement, tend to work rather independently, bringing about a disorganised response to a problem.

It is hoped that the new centre can become a focal point for communication especially if the emergencies go beyond the Myanmar borders, affecting other countries in the region.

Additionally, the EU hopes that the centre will engage with similar facilities across the ASEAN region and with EU members for a more seamless reaction to emergencies.  

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