WFP/Government Of Malaysia Lay Foundation Stone For Asia’s Humanitarian Response Base

Published on 31 March 2011

SUBANG – The Government of Malaysia and the World Food Programme today celebrated the start of construction on a state-of-the-art United Nations Humanitarian Response Depot (UNHRD) facility in Subang.

The Subang UNHRD is part of a global network which allows the international humanitarian community to stockpile vital supplies close to where they may be needed in times of crisis, and has been operational since June last year out of temporary facilities.

“Malaysia is proud to host such a vital nerve-centre for the international humanitarian community,” said Dato’ Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, Minister of Defence. “Asia is ground zero for sudden-onset natural disasters so the importance of this hub cannot be over-estimated. Malaysia is proud to be playing its role in ensuring that in times of crisis, the people of this region get the emergency assistance they need.”

The building of the UNHRD’s offices, warehouses and a training facility is being funded by the Government of Malaysia, who have also committed to providing US$1 million annually to the operating costs of the UNHRD network.

 “This foundation stone represents a new ability to respond rapidly to emergency scenarios in the Asia region with life-saving supplies – as we’ve seen only very recently with the dispatch of supplies to help the emergency response to the Japan earthquake and tsunami,” said WFP Deputy Executive Director Amir Abdulla, who was in Subang for the ceremony. “We applaud the government of Malaysia for the major investment they have made in the region’s disaster preparedness through their support for this facility.”
Only last week, WFP airlifted high-energy biscuits, as well as temporary storage and accommodation units, from the Subang HRD to Japan, where the emergency items have been forwarded to support the effort to provide for victims of the recent earthquake and tsunami.  Two WFP logistics officers were also deployed from Subang to Tokyo to assist in the response.

For the Subang HRD, a “Malaysia for Asia” disaster response initiative is envisioned, with the private sector using their collective muscle in support of the international humanitarian community. This will include financial resources to pre-position life-saving ready-to-eat food stocks at Subang, to cover the costs of first cargo flights as part of rapid emergency response and to support the use of the HRD as a centre of best practice for humanitarian organisations.

With this in mind, the Subang HRD will include a centre where specialised humanitarian operations training will be developed and provided.

WFP is also grateful to the Ministry of Finance, with the support of the Ministries of Defence and Foreign Affairs, for providing a special tax privilege whereby WFP is able to accord tax deductions to  contributions from Malaysian private sector donors until September 2011.

The Subang facility joins Brindisi (Italy), Panama City (Panama), Dubai City (UAE) and Accra (Ghana) and completes WFP’s global network of UNHRDs.