Singapore disaster relief centre to help regional countries worst-hit by Covid-19

The director of Changi RHCC, Colonel Melvin Tan, chairing the video-conference session. PHOTO: MINDEF
Colonel Melvin Tan with a foreign international liaison officer. PHOTO: MINDEF

SINGAPORE - The Changi Regional Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief Coordination Centre (RHCC) will play a role in helping countries in the region that have been badly hit by a deteriorating Covid-19 situation.

The centre, located in Changi Naval Base, held a meeting on Wednesday (July 14) with representatives of local and foreign governments, as well as international agencies and non-governmental organisations that deal with humanitarian assistance work.

The video-conference discussed multilateral cooperation on Covid-19 relief efforts, information-sharing and the transfer of critical medical supplies to affected places, said the Ministry of Defence (Mindef).

The RHCC will coordinate humanitarian assistance and disaster relief efforts together with ongoing work by Asean and the United Nations Office, added Mindef.

Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen noted that in crisis conditions, the command, control and coordination capabilities which militaries are trained in are needed to deal with huge logistical challenges.

This was why the RHCC was set up following a series of humanitarian crises in the region such as Cyclone Nargis in 2008, which claimed more than 138,000 lives.

"Unfortunately, countries globally, including Asean member states, are now facing waves of Covid-19 infection," Dr Ng wrote on Facebook.

"Appropriately, the RHCC has been placed on higher alert status, in anticipation of a worsening situation."

Director of Changi RHCC, Colonel Melvin Tan, said the centre can use its Opera Computer Information System Web-portal to provide a regional situation picture for its partners.

He said: "With our operational experience, network of international liaison officers and linkages with regional militaries, non-governmental organisations and external partners, the Changi RHCC can also facilitate the matching and collaboration of efforts, such as in the transfer of medical equipment and supplies.

"We seek to contribute to our partners' efforts and work with them in this fight against Covid-19 in our region."

Since its launch in 2014, the Changi RHCC has helped coordinate the deployment of foreign military assistance in response to natural disasters in the region.

It sent disaster relief teams and emergency supplies to Nepal in 2015 and to Laos in 2018.

Join ST's WhatsApp Channel and get the latest news and must-reads.