Just after Cyclone Nargis struck the
coast of Myanmar on 2 and 3 May 2008, the
Secretary-General of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), Dr Surin Pitsuwan, called on all Member States to provide urgent relief assistance
through the framework of the ASEAN Agreement
on Disaster Management and Emergency Response
(AADMER). A few days later, the Government of the Union of Myanmar agreed to work in coordination with the ASEAN Secretariat to assemble and deploy
an ASEAN-Emergency Rapid Assessment Team
(ERAT), made up of Government officials and disaster management experts from ASEAN Member States.
In the first ever such mission for ASEAN, the
ASEAN-ERAT was deployed to Myanmar from 9 to
18 May 2008. Its report was submitted to the Special
ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting on 19 May 2008
in Singapore. At the meeting, the Foreign Ministers agreed to establish an ASEAN-led coordinating mechanism to “facilitate the effective distributionand utilisation of assistance from the international
community, including the expeditious and effective deployment of relief workers, especially health and medical personnel.”
The result was a two-tiered structure, consisting of the ASEAN Humanitarian Task Force for the Victims of Cyclone Nargis (AHTF), and a Yangon-based Tripartite Core Group (TCG), consisting of ASEAN, the Government and the United Nations (UN), to facilitate day-to-day operations and oversee coordination.