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ENVIRONMENT- CIVIL PROTECTION > BELARUS

We have a big fire here, we need help There has been a major accident at a chemical plant in Belarus, and www.enpi-info.eu forest fires are raging through the region. Neither Belarus nor Ukraine can cope with the disaster alone, rescuers are badly needed to face the emergency: so Belarus is now asking for help… Fortunately the event is not real, it is just a simulation exercise, and the staged emergency is addressed through a computer based information exchange. This training is part of the EU-funded Programme for Prevention, Preparedness and Response to natural and Man-Made Disasters in the Eastern Partnership countries (PPRD East). A journalist from the EU Neighbourhood Info Centre was following the story. Here is her report. Text by Tanya Korovenkova Pictures by AFP © EU Neighbourhood INFO CENTRE

This publication does not represent the official view of the EC or the EU institutions. The EC accepts no responsibility or liability whatsoever with regard to its content.

MINSK - There has been a major accident at a chemical plant in Belarus, and forest fires are raging even in Ukraine. What to do? Neither country can cope with the disaster alone, rescuers are badly needed: so Belarus is asking for help... Fortunately, the event is not real. It is just a simulation exercise taking place at the Command-and-Engineering Institute at the Ministry for Emergency Situations, in Belarus. The initiative is part of the EU-funded Programme for Prevention, Preparedness and Response to natural and Man-Made Disasters in the Eastern Partnership countries (PPRD East). In the hall of the Institute, representatives from Belarus and Ukraine are sitting opposite each other in front of their computers: a large screen shows all the messages that the participants are exchanging. Ukranian rescuers are reporting a major forest fire on the border between the two countries, with details about EU Neighbourhood Info Centre the size of the affected area and the intensity of the fire. The messages Feature no. 110 quickly slide across the screen, replacing each other: the Ukrainians cannot extinguish the fire by themselves and are asking their colleagues from Belarus to come and help. As soon as the request arrives, Belarus experts start discussing ways to get their rescuers and machines to the emergency site, and how to lay out routes and to transport commodities.

This is a series of features on projects funded by the EU Regional Programme, prepared by journalists and photographers on the ground or the EU Neighbourhood Info Centre. © 2013 EU Neighbourhood Info Centre


We have a big fire here, we need help

EU Neighbourhood Info Centre – Feature no. 110

They are so focused and serious that everything seems real: somewhere on the border a forest fire is blazing, and it depends on them and on their decisions whether people will die or will be wounded, and how badly the population will be affected by the emergency. And it is only when the officials of the two countries move on to the next stage – the accident at the chemical plant is over – that everybody is reminded it is just a simulation…

Training to get ready

N A simulation exercise taking place at the Commandand-Engineering Institute at the Ministry for Emergency Situations.

“This will improve the opportunities of both the EP and EU countries to help each other if required, and also tip them on how to prevent or decrease some risks”

The exercise is part of the sub-regional general planning conference, held in Minsk and attended by representatives of all six Eastern Partnership countries. The event also involves a training seminar, where three experts from Poland, Romania and Greece share the EU experience on how to request international assistance during an emergency, what to do when help arrives and how to deploy it on the site. “We are interested in such trainings,” says Anna Uss, Deputy Head of the Department for International Cooperation at the Ministry for Emergency Situation in Belarus: “they allow our staff to upgrade their qualification level, acquiring knowledge and skills that are vital to endure emergencies.” PPRD East is “the first regional project of this kind”, says Sergey Anagnosti, the regional project manager. “We are aiming at bringing the partner countries closer to the Mechanism of Civil Protection, which is operating in the EU and which regulates the delivering of assistance by the EU countries to each other in cases of emergency”. “As it is a completely new project in this area,” he says, “we have performed a largescale analysis in order to understand what the situation is in the Eastern Partnership countries, what they can do in terms of civil protection and prevention of disasters, and what training and technical support we can offer to them.”

A Risk Atlas: information on 6 countries combined in one electronic product One of the most important results of the programme will be the development of the Electronic Regional Risk Atlas. “When the Atlas is ready, we will get the whole picture of possible risks in the Eastern Partnership region,” said Anagnosti. “This will improve the opportunities of both the EP and EU countries to help each other if required, and also tip them on how to prevent or decrease some risks, in a word, on how to prevent a possible emergency situation.” “Europe does not yet have anything like that,” says Andrej Pinigin, PPRD East coordinator in Belarus. “Individual countries do have such atlases, but never before has a single electronic product combined information on six countries. It will reflect emergency situations in real-time mode. Every country of the Eastern Partnership will know what is going on.” Mr Pinigin notes that under the PPRD programme it is important for his country to work out the principles, methodology and practices of interacting with the services responsible for handling of emergency situations in the other Eastern Partnership coun-

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“We are aiming at bringing the partner countries closer to the Mechanism of Civil Protection, which is operating in the EU and which regulates the delivering of assistance by the EU countries to each other in cases of emergency”

N Representatives from Belarus and Ukraine are sitting in front of their computers: a large screen shows all the messages that the participants are exchanging.


EU Neighbourhood Info Centre – Feature no. 110

tries. “Although they are our long-standing partners,” he says, “this programme raises our interaction to a new level.” The national partner of PPRD East in Belarus is the Ministry for Emergency Situations, but other ministries, which may be involved in emergencies, also take part in the simulation. “Our staff can now find out how similar structures in partner countries and EU member countries respond to the same risks and hazards that we often face,” says Anna Uss.

Nature doesn’t recognize state borders N As soon as the request arrives, experts start discussing ways to get their rescuers and machines to the emergency site.

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We have a big fire here, we need help

Lena Nielsen, Programme Manager at the European Commission, emphasizes that the European Union is interested in this programme no less than its Eastern partners. “The main purpose of the programme,” she says, “is to develop the potential for preventing disasters and decreasing their consequences in the region at the local, national and regional levels.” “We also aim at the promotion of effective cooperation in this area among both the countries of the Eastern Partnership and between them and the EU… The European Union wants to contribute to the preservation of peace, stability and safety in both the Eastern Partnership and the European countries,” she concludes, “as well as to protect the environment, the population, the cultural heritage, the resources and the infrastructure in the region.” Natural and mad-made disasters are on the rise across the world. Partner countries in Europe and in the Neighbourhood must learn to effectively withstand emergencies, to cooperate with each other and recover quickly. Because for nature, state borders do not exist.

“Never before has a single electronic product combined information on six countries. This will reflect emergency situations in real-time mode. Every country of the Eastern Partnership will know what is going on”.

Prevention, Preparedness and Response to man-made and natural disaster in the ENPI East Region (PPRD East) http://euroeastcp.eu/en/ Reinforces the capacity of participating countries for disaster prevention, preparedness and response, and facilitates cooperation with the EU and the countries themselves – one of the Flagship Initiatives under the Eastern Partnership. Participating countries Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, Ukraine Timeframe 2010-2014 Budget €6 million

Objective PPRD East aims at contributing towards peace, stability, security and prosperity in the Eastern ENPI region and at protecting the environment, the population, cultural heritage, resources and infrastructures by strengthening the countries’ resilience, preparedness and response to man-made and natural disasters. It will also bring the partner countries closer to the EU’s Civil Protection Mechanism. To find out more ENPI Fiche and news about the programme www.enpi-info.eu/maineast.php?id=211&id_type=10 EU Neighbourhood Info Centre Thematic portal: Environment www.enpi-info.eu/themeeast.php?subject=6

EU Neighbourhood Info Centre An ENPI project The EU Neighbourhood Info Centre is an EU-funded Regional Communication project highlighting the partnership between the EU and Neighbouring countries. The project is managed by Action Global Communications.

www.enpi-info.eu


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