Field Simulation on a Disaster Response Scenario in the City of Byblos”

09 May 2014

Statement

By

Mr. Ross Mountain

United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator and

United Nations Development Programme Resident Representative

 

At the

 

“Field Simulation on a Disaster Response Scenario

in the City of Byblos”

 

 

 

 

 

 Thursday, 8 May 2014

 

 

 

 

 

Secretary General of the Higher Council of Defense, Major General Kheir

 

Ambassador of the Swiss Confederation, Excellency Ruth Flint

 

Mayor of Byblos, Mr. Ziad Hawat

 

Ladies and Gentlemen,

 

It’s an honor to be participating in today’s groundbreaking field simulation, the first of its kind and scale in Lebanon, which I am glad to say is the result of a long and fruitful partnership between the UNDP and the Government of Lebanon and comes within the framework of the National Response Plan.

We all hope that disasters like this will never take place. Nevertheless, exercises like today’s have particular importance especially in the time of crisis we are living in, paving the way towards strengthened prevention, as well as better coordinated, effective responses that enhance the resilience of communities and the nation. We will observe the combined efforts exerted by many of the key government agencies and civil society organisations in the area of disaster risk management in general and, today more specifically, in response to a simulated Tsunami.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

As has been witnessed throughout its history, Lebanon is highly prone to natural disasters that are hard to predict, but whose impact is possible to mitigate if we are prepared and ready to respond collectively and effectively. Natural disasters such as earthquakes and Tsunamis inevitably result in material damage and impact lives, both in terms of human and economic losses, but the scale of that impact, whether tomorrow or years ahead, is fully a function of our actions today.

In this context, UNDP has long been supporting Lebanon in strengthening its resilience against disasters for the purpose of maintaining hard won development goals. Through the joint efforts of the Government and civil society at the central and local level, UNDP has helped ensure national and local development and planning processes integrate disaster preparedness and management.

Achievements to date are many, including the development of the National Disaster Risk Management Strategy and National Response Plan, the submission of national Hyogo Framework of Action reports since 2009, working with DHL to prepare the Beirut International Airport for disaster response, and engaging 270 municipalities, including Byblos, International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (ISDR) global campaign on resilient cities.

We are now also in the process of developing a national Operations Room and hotline based at the Serail that will, together with a mobile rapid response facility, bring together for the first time representatives of key Government and Civil Society first-responders on a 24 hour standing basis to support immediate, coordinated response to disaster of any sort, man-made or natural.  We are also working  with International Search and rescue group managed by OCHA to get Lebanon Search and Rescue teams to become a member of this group and benefit from their expertise.

 

 

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I would like to take this opportunity to thank, the Presidency of the Council of Ministers along with all agencies participating today for their continuous commitment to the strengthening Lebanon’s resilience in the face of disasters.  

I would also like to thank our generous partners and donors for their support to this agenda; The Swiss Ambassador who, through the Swiss agency for Development Cooperation (SDC), has long supported the project since its inception and the German Ambassador who, through funding from the Government of Germany, has also joined in supporting Lebanon response capacities at the national, sectoral and local levels. Additionally I would like to thank all the experts and concerned agencies and stakeholders who have put tremendous efforts in developing the response plan and in preparing today’s simulation.

Finally, it would be remiss to conclude without addressing the pressing issues confronting Lebanon at this moment. The impact of the Syrian conflict on this country has been extreme. And yet, Lebanon has managed to keep moving forward in the face of adversity. Home to more than one million refugees seeking shelter, more per capita than any other country in the world, while a war rages nearby, the Lebanese people have demonstrated remarkable generosity, solidarity and resourcefulness.

In this context, UNDP has launched the "Lebanon Stabilization and Recovery Program” as part of the international community’s effort to help strengthen national and community resilience against the many impacts of the Syrian crisis. Expanding the work of disaster management and crisis response that I have spoken about today comprises a key part of both this Program and the national “Lebanon Roadmap of Priority Interventions for Stabilization from the Syrian conflict” which we support.

 

As we witness the National Response Plan simulation today, it is important to keep in mind that, whether a Tsunami or man-made crisis, we are helping strengthen the same systems, institutions and first responders across government and civil society that will be called upon to save lives and secure a safer, more resilient future.