ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates – The 2015 Global Meeting on Search and Rescue concluded its activities on Tuesday. The meeting was hosted for the first time by the UAE and held at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (ADNEC) between 16 and 20 October.
Participants confirmed that their meeting in Abu Dhabi represented a major qualitative step, and a step forward in the field of search and rescue around the world. Attendees approved 2015 Abu Dhabi Declaration, which aims to enhance the standards of readiness and response in national and international urban search and rescue operations. In this declaration, the International Search and Rescue Advisory Group (INSARAG) reiterated its commitment to the United Nations General Assembly Resolution 57/150 of 2002, on “Strengthening the Effectiveness and Coordination of International Urban Search and rescue assistance” from 2015 to 2020.
During the global meeting, which was attended by 300 participants from over 90 countries and organizations, it was agreed upon observing the goals of the International Search and Rescue Advisory Group (INSARAG). These goals were established to reinforce and complement the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030, and with the World Humanitarian Summit 2016. These goals were also established to support the progress already achieved since the creation of the INSARAG Hyogo Declaration adopted at the first INSARAG Global Meeting in 2010, which was attended by 188 international participants from 77 countries and organizations.
The International Search and Rescue Advisory Group (INSARAG) expressed its thanks and appreciation for the UAE Government for extending such a warm welcome and hospitality, which contributed to the success of the second INSARAG Global Meeting.
The INSARAG delegation also expressed its appreciation for the support of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), in its capacity as the INSARAG secretariat, and by the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and the UN General Assembly in their endorsement of, and encouragement to INSARAG and its activities.
In light of the progress achieved in the past 25 years of INSARAG in creating a well established, professional Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) network that works to ensure rapid response and coordination to sudden onset disasters i.e. earthquakes, in support of the affected population and governments; the International Search and Rescue Advisory Group (INSARAG) has issued a number of resolutions and recommendations in its 2015 Global Meeting. They include calling upon the Member States of the United Nations to continue fully supporting implementation of the provisions of UN General Assembly Resolution 57/150 of 16 Dec 2002 on ‘Strengthening the Effectiveness and Coordination of International Urban Search and Rescue assistance’ and to continue to support INSARAG and its activities.
The Meeting also reaffirmed its full support for disaster-affected countries in executing their primary role to initiate, coordinate and organize the international humanitarian assistance on their territories according to the humanitarian principles of neutrality, humanity and impartiality; facilitating the deployment and work of international urban search and rescue teams; approving the modern updated version of the International Search and Rescue Advisory Group (INSARAG) 2015 Guidelines and methodology guide, which include a number of detailed cases that make use of learned lessons and provide a detailed overview of alert and response methodologies adopted by INSARAG; and encouraging member countries to adopt these guidelines in the own disaster response plans.
The meeting also called upon all urban search and rescue teams responding internationally to earthquakes to follow the field coordination procedures of OCHA, especially those laid down in the INSARAG Guidelines and Methodology and coordinate their work with the directions of the Reception and Departure Centre (RDC) and the On-Site Operations Coordination Centre (OSOCC) established in the disaster area by United Nations Disaster Assessment and Coordination (UNDAC) Teams.
He also called upon all Member States that have urban search and rescue teams responding internationally, to ensure the commitment of these teams to the operational standards for international urban search and rescue teams through the INSARAG External Classification (IEC) process, and which are supported by advisors from member states that have external classifications teams, while abiding by the humanitarian principles and mutual respect.
For their part, participants emphasized their commitment to the principle of universality and to support efforts aimed at strengthening and consolidating cooperation among regional and sub-regional levels in the field of disaster preparedness and response, with particular respect to capacity-building and training at all levels; as well as cooperation between Member States in each region, encouraging International Search and Rescue Advisory Group regional groups to provide full support and assistance to develop search and rescue capabilities in national urban areas; and enhancing participation with small teams with light equipment, and calling upon all Member States to ensure ensure that national ownership is accounted for these operations. This would reflect positively on humanitarian developmental policies for risk management in general; and to ensure the optimal use of capabilities and local expertise.
Furthermore, they called for taking advantage of the work carried out by the International Search and Rescue Advisory Group (INSARAG) to develop innovative means, and establish recommendations to develop a regulatory and operational reference guide for capacity building of national urban search and rescue teams, and encouraging member state to support such efforts, and to recognize that international response is a complementary effort for national capacities.
In addition, they stressed the increasing role of international urban search and rescue teams to the “post-rubble” response in major disasters.
The attendees expressed their thanks to the members of the International Search and Rescue Advisory Group (INSARAG) for cooperating with the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), with the United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Risk Reduction, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, the World Health Organization, the United Nations agencies and relevant regional organizations. They also expressed their satisfaction with the outcomes of the second INSARAG Global Meeting and affirmed their intent to hold the next INSARAG Global Meeting in Warsaw in 2020.
They also called for the reduction of vulnerabilities as a danger factor, by enhancing urban search and rescue capacity within the countries, through the training program “first responders”, which was developed in collaboration with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, and by targeting a better reconstruction after disasters to contribute to a full post-crisis recovery.
The 2015 INSARAG Global Meeting on Search and Rescue concluded the scheduled activities on its agenda, whereas participants reviewed and discussed a number of work papers submitted by experts and researchers from the United Nations, and countries participating in the meeting.
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Strengthening partnerships between teams
During the meeting, Lt. Colonel Hamad Al Darmaki, from the Directorate General of Strategy and Performance Development at the Ministry of Interior, presented a work paper tackling the importance of the leadership role in ensuring the success of strategic planning. He also tackled the strategic development of Abu Dhabi Police General Headquarters and the Ministry of Interior; under the leadership of His Highness Sheikh Saif bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior, and referred to the vision, mission, strategic goals and initiatives of the GCC countries’ and Jordan’s search and rescue teams, which were approved by Member States.
In his paper, Lt. colonel Al Darmaki pointed to the support and guidance of the leadership towards the development of the strategic plan for the GCC countries’ and Jordan’s search and rescue teams (Committee 6 +1). He said that a meeting was held to prepare a strategic plan in Abu Dhabi, under the supervision of Major General Dr. Nasser Lakhraibani Al Nuaimi, Secretary General of the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior, followed by several meetings held to complete the preparation of the strategic plan.
This is the first strategic plan in the field of search and rescue operations, prepared in collaboration with several countries, under the supervision of a team of the Ministry of Interior and the Chairman of the Committee (6 +1) Colonel Mohammed Abdul Jalil al-Ansari, Director General of Civil Defense in Abu Dhabi, according to the UN’s International Search and Rescue Advisory Group (INSARAG) guidelines. He also stressed the role of international partnerships in the success of such practices. Then, the audience highly acclaimed the experience and its effectiveness in the field of search and rescue.
Lt. Colonel Hamad Al Darmaki stressed the need to strengthen partnerships between teams, in order to boost their performance and enhance their response in cases of disaster. He also emphasized that the leadership’s support has had a significant impact on the adoption of developmental changes, and the development of strategic plans between search and rescue teams with common factors such as geographical proximity and risk similarities.
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Honor and praise
Manuel Bessler, the new president of the International Search and Rescue Advisory Group (INSARAG),, honored Toni Frisch, former President of INSARAG on the occasion of his end of his tenure , in recognition of his distinguished efforts made throughout his term of office with INSARAG. Bessler praised the achievements and successes made by INSARAG over 25 years.
The International Search and Rescue Advisory Group (INSARAG), expressed its heartfelt thanks and appreciation to Colonel Mohammed Abdul Jalil Al Ansari, Director General of Civil Defense in Abu Dhabi, and Chairman of the Emirates Search and Rescue Team, in recognition of the significant and distinguished efforts he made to ensure the success of this well organized meeting.