- The 3rd Meeting of the Directors-General of Civil Protection of the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) Member States will launch a reflection to develop an action plan for strengthened Euro-Mediterranean cooperation on prevention campaigns, emergency response and crisis management.
- Through a common Civil Protection Mechanism, UfM Member States could play a key role in coordinating common responses to crises and cooperate on risk assessment, disaster prevention, preparedness and planning.
Barcelona, 11 February 2019. The Directors-General of Civil Protection of the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) Member States gathered today at the UfM headquarters, in Barcelona, almost a decade after their last meeting. The meeting aims to facilitate thematic discussions focusing on common humanitarian aid and crisis management challenges, leading to a future jointly-defined regional Civil Protection Action Plan. An expert meeting could be organised to support this reflection process with a final Action Plan to be endorsed at a Ministerial conference at a later stage.
The meeting, jointly organised by the European Commission and the Union for the Mediterranean, was opened by Christos Stylianides, European Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management, Yousef Bataineh, Ambassador of Jordan to Belgium, Luxembourg, the European Union, NATO, and Nasser Kamel, the Secretary General of the UfM.
The frequency and intensity of disasters have increased in the last decade, exerting considerable pressure on national authorities. Disasters are increasingly resulting in high casualties in terms of human, economic and environmental losses over the globe, and the Mediterranean region is not an exception. The drivers for this vulnerability can be found in a mix of climate change, industrialisation and intensive urbanisation, all common regional challenges that the UfM tackles through its various initiatives and projects.
“Only through genuine cooperation and collective action on emergency response and crisis management can we avert potential calamities in our region, thereby taking one step closer towards a safer Mediterranean. The UfM Secretariat stands ready, with its accumulated knowledge and experience on regional integration, to support Member States’ collaboration on civil protection. We look forward to facilitating a structured and continuous dialogue towards concrete and tangible cooperation.”, said UfM Secretary General Nasser Kamel.
“The EU Civil Protection Mechanism offers a framework to work together to prevent, prepare for and respond to major disasters. Common joint regional exercises and training on floods, forest fires, earthquakes, medical, maritime, have been done and allowed us to put together our strengths and train together to reach a stronger response in case of disasters. This partnership and solidarity among all UfM Member-States should be strengthened further. Today and tomorrow we should use the opportunity to enhance our cooperation. To walk towards a new era of Civil Protection across the Mediterranean.” stated the European Commissioner, Christos Stylianides.
Over the next two days, Directors-General of Civil Protection of UfM Member States will take stock of the developments and achievements of the last decade in the field of civil protection. They will also share views on how to strengthen citizen’s awareness and involvement in disaster prevention, preparedness and response by empowering volunteers and young people. Furthermore, they will share best practices on delivering efficient international assistance in case of disasters and will exchange on how to better promote cross-institutional cooperation and dialogue between the operational and scientific communities.
Since its inception in 2001, the EU Civil Protection Mechanism has responded to over 300 requests for assistance inside and outside the EU, including the Ebola outbreaks (2014), the earthquake in Nepal (2015) and the recurrent forest fires in the Mediterranean region (2017).
Civil protection assistance consists of governmental aid delivered in preparation for or immediate aftermath of a disaster. Aid takes the form of in-kind assistance, deployment of specially-equipped teams, or experts assessing and coordinating support right in the field. When a disaster overwhelms a country’s ability to contain it, other participating states step in and provide assistance. Cooperation among all UfM Member States is, therefore, a priority in the field of Civil Protection since disasters ‘know no borders’ and the challenges and risks faced are often shared.