Civil protection co-operation

The third Steering Committee meeting organized by the Euro-Mediterranean Programme on Prevention, Preparedness and Response to Natural and Man-made Disasters (PPRD South), was held in Sarajevo on Tuesday. The Programme is funded by the EU in the amount of five million Euro.

The increasing risk of disasters threatening the Euro-Mediterranean region and the growing importance of strategies to reduce disaster risks was the main focus of the meeting that brought together the representatives of the EU Member States, the Mediterranean and Balkan Countries, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent and the UN agencies dealing with disaster management in the Mediterranean region.

„This is a exceptionally important project for it involves a number of Euro-Mediterranean countries in the working together on civil protection matters“, stated Mr Renzo Daviddi, the Acting Head of the EU Delegation to BiH.

He stressed that the project is already in its second phase. Since 2009, PPRD South organized 15 workshops and meetings attended by over 350 civil protection officials from partner countries.

„This is the way to improve the cooperation amongst civil protection services of neighbouring countries, with regards to both prevention and responding to disasters said Mr Daviddi. According to him, BiH is quite committed to this objective, as is evidenced by the fact that Sarajevo is hosting thisevent.

„In order to protect our common Euro-Mediterranean heritage and our culture, in the EU were are developing co-operation and raising awareness that we are neighbours and that we are all a part of the same community“, stated Mr Daviddi.

Mr Sadik Ahmetović, Minister of Security of Bosnia and Herzegovina, reminded that BiH has accepted the Hyogo Declaration and the Framework Action Plan for the period 2005-2015, thus undertaking the obligation to establish and develop mechanisms for decreasing risks and reducing consequences of natural and other disasters.

„I want to express clear determination and readiness of Bosnia and Herzegovina to share responsibilities on local, regional and international level in responding to all sorts of extraordinary situations“, said Mr Ahmetović. Mr Franco Gabrielli, Head of Italian Civil Protection Department, thanked the European Union for continually treating the civil protection issue as a priority in the context of both its foreign policy and neighbourhood relations.

„I am convinced that the EU will continue to support the Euro-Mediterranean co-operation in the field of civil protection. Italy is prepared to even more strongly contribute to these efforts„, stated Mr Gabrielli.

Over the past eight months, the world has suffered a series of major disasters, such as earthquakes and tsunamis, the nuclear disaster in Japan, floods and fires in Australia, storms and tornados in the U.S. and the floodscausing major damages in South America and East Asia.

As for the Mediterranean, major emergencies in the past eight months included the wildfire at Mount Carmel, Israel, which triggered broad international aid efforts amongst others including the PPRD South partner countries; heavy floods in Morocco, Bosnia, Albania, Montenegro and Turkey; earthquakes in Spain and Turkey, and the migration crisis from Libya affectingTunisia, Egypt, Algeria, Italy and Malta.

All these events had an impact on the PPRD South implementation. Wherever possible action has been or is being taken with a view to address the issues caused by the above events, namely the increased focus on the EU Floods Directive during a workshop on floods in Turkey, the preparation of a study on tsunamis and on possible tsunami-industrial disaster domino effects in the Mediterranean, as well as the establishing cooperation with the UNESCO project Tsunami Early Warning and Mitigation System in the Mediterranean.

Background information on PPRD South

The 5-million Euro PPRD South Programme runs for three years and is coordinated by a consortium led by the Italian Civil Protection Department together with the National Civil Protection Authorities of Algeria, Egypt, France and the United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR).

PPRD South is the third phase of the EU-funded Euro-Mediterranean Programme on Civil Protection which started in 1998. Building on the experience of the previous programmes, a 5-year Pilot Programme and the „Bridge” Programme, whose objective was to strengthen political confidence among the civil protection Partners, the purpose of PPRD South is to contribute to the development of improved civil protection prevention, preparedness and response capacities at international, national and local levels through increased institutional cooperation between the EU, the Balkan and the Mediterranean Countries. It also aims at establishing closer links with the EU Civil Protection Mechanism – a set of co-operation tools established by the European Commission to facilitate adequate preparedness and effective response to disasters – and between the countries themselves.

PPRD South is organising, among others, a series of training workshops on the most frequent and destructive disasters in the Mediterranean region – earthquakes, floods, drought, tsunamis, wild fires, and industrial accidents – developing a national and regional risk atlas, making study visits and providing technical assistance, organising training and simulation exercises focusing on „crisis management”, „operational planning” and „use of new technologies”, and improving the information and awareness of Mediterranean populations regarding risk exposure, prevention and response through five pilot projects. A final disaster response simulation exercise with the participation of crisis management forces from all the PPRD South Partner Countries is scheduled for the end of the year 2011.