Back to Beirut harbour’s explosion

A training that saves lives

Karine Zoghby remembers everything of the first twelve hours after the explosion in Beirut harbour. Understand what is happening, secure the area, identify shelters for the people stuck there, evaluate the casualties etc… As Disaster Risks management officer in the Disaster Risk Management Unit in Beirut, she is in the heart of the matter.

Zone de Texte: Analytical tools used by ECHO

Without waiting, she and her team immediately request assistance from the European Union Mechanism for Civil Protection (UCPM). They know what to do and how to do it. They followed the trainings delivered by PPRD South 3, the EU funded project aimed at increasing cooperation among southern partner countries. That is the big difference with the request they had to formulate a few months earlier after an extreme weather episode. As a result, “in less than three hours, we received offers from the EU Member States and in the next morning, the international support teams arrived. We were efficient thanks to the training we received on the activation of the UCPM by PPRD South 3. We put into practice what we learned, and this allowed us to save time. This is crucial when we are running out of time!”, explains Karine Zoghby.

The procedures taught by the PPRD South 3 team during previous trainings allowed the civil protection officers to identify their needs, the number of engines required etc. and to formulate a clear and efficient request to the UCPM. “We knew the procedures and we knew the people to talk to. Hence, we followed the procedures, with the help of PPRD South 3, and support came in due time”, remembers Karine.

When cooperation becomes solidarity

The links built throughout the project played their part as well. “Alessandro Candoloro, the italian coordinator of the preparation component of the project and Laurent Alfonso, the French coordinator of the response component, directly called us to offer the help of their countries.  Again, this contributed to save precious time”, adds Karine.

And after these crucial twelve hours? The emergency state has been declared and the responsibility transferred from civil protection to the armed forces. But PPRD South 3 remained mobilised by coordinating information about the support proposed by PPRD South 3 partner countries.  This proved to be useful since the European Emergency Response Coordination Centre (ERCC) does not have the mandate to deal with proposals for international aid outside the EU.

The UCPM deployed one medical team in the aftermath of the explosion as well as urgently needed medical equipment and supplies provided by many EU MS via UCPM. The Union Civil Protection Team, together with a technical assistance support team, have been assisting with the coordination and the arrival of the European assistance. And this coordination with EU teams continued with the debris removal. “This is definitely a success model”, Karine said.

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