ZAKA Opens Regional Center in East Asia


zakaAt a gala event held last week in Hong Kong, the Israel-based ZAKA Rescue and Recovery organization announced plans to establish a fully equipped ZAKA center in Hong Kong to serve the East Asia region and train local volunteers in emergency preparedness, medical first response and disaster management. The aim of this civilian volunteer force, which will work in full cooperation with the local emergency and security services, will be to shorten the response time to any mass casualty incident such as a natural disaster or terror attack that may occur in the East Asia region – and thereby increase the chances of saving lives.

Hundreds from the Jewish and non-Jewish communities in Hong Kong attended the launch of ZAKA Hong Kong, Macau and China, including dignitaries from the political, diplomatic, business and security scene. The monies raised at the event will support the ten-day training program, scheduled to take place in Hong Kong in June 2010 with highly experienced Israeli members of the ZAKA International Rescue Unit, and the necessary medical and response equipment.

ZAKA Chairman Yehuda Meshi-Zahav noted that ZAKA’s motto is to help those in need, regardless of race, religion or creed. “The ZAKA International Rescue Unit, which has helped at events like the tsunami, Hurricane Katrina, Mumbai and most recently Haiti, is now training local volunteers in communities around the world with one objective in mind – to help save lives by saving time.”

Keynote speaker Yaacov Perry
Keynote speaker Yaacov Perry

Keynote speaker and former head of the Israel Security Agency Jacob Perry spoke about the current political, diplomatic and security challenges facing Israel and stressed the unique contribution of ZAKA volunteers in Israel and overseas: “The people of Israel are used to seeing the men in yellow vests at every terror attack and traffic accident. Now, the rest of the world is also recognizing the sacred work of the ZAKA volunteers.”

Israel Consul-General to Hong Kong Mr. Amikam Levy promised his full support to the new ZAKA unit in East Asia: “ZAKA reflects the basic traditions of Judaism – respect, leadership and saving the souls of every human being.”

Local businessman and long-time Chairman of the Israel Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong Rafael Aharoni, the newly-appointed President of ZAKA Hong Kong, Macau and China, hosted the gala dinner at the Grand Hyatt Hotel Hong Kong. Reaching out to the local community, Aharoni invited the guests to become part of the ZAKA family. “Learn how to save lives in the event of a major disaster in our region. We pray that these skills will never be needed – but we must be prepared for every eventuality.”

Recognized in 2005 by the United Nations as an international humanitarian volunteer organization, ZAKA deploys its International Rescue Unit when terror or tragedy strikes around the world, including Haiti, New Orleans, Mombasa and Turkey. In the East Asia region, ZAKA assisted at the 2004 tsunami, the 2007 Phuket plane crash and Kopipi boat crash and the 2008 Nariman House terror attack in Mumbai. Most recently, ZAKA volunteers were among the first international delegations on the ground in Haiti, pulling many survivors from the rubble and saving the lives of scores more.

{Noam Newscenter}