Al-Alimi admits the incapability of the civil defense in rescue operations [Archives:2006/914/Front Page]

January 23 2006
Photo from archived article: photos/914/front2_1
Photo from archived article: photos/914/front2_1
SANA'A, Jan. 21 ) The First Regional Training in Disaster Management in the Middle East was lunched in Sana'a last Saturday. The difficulties the government faced during the rescue operations in the ravaged village of Al-Dhafer were highlighted during the opening ceremony of the training course, as well as the importance of the role of women in the management of such disasters.

The training course was organized by the Islamic Relief organization (Emergency and Preparedness Unit) in Britain, in partnership with Islamic Relief – Yemen Office, UNDP and the Yemeni Civil Defense.

Concerning Al-Dhafer village disaster, the Minister of Interior, Dr. Rashad Al-Alimi said in his speech during the opening ceremony that the situation in the field was totally different. He pointed out that it was only when they were there, he and other officials did realize the difficulty of the rescue operations. He confessed that the civil defense was unable at the beginning to act by itself. The rescue operation started when they received help from the local citizens. He mentioned that there was also a problem with the evaluation of the type and number of necessary equipment needed for the rescue operation. As an example, he said that around 50 ambulances were sent to the village while only five ambulances were actually needed.

As for the role of women in managing crises, Dr. Al-Alimi, who is also the Chairman of the Civil Defense Supreme Council, indicated that the need of women police was great. “They have done a great job in helping and managing the rescue operation” he added. He stressed on the role of different governmental bodies and other local organization in aiding the work of the civil defense. He gave the example of the absence of clear addresses of houses and streets names in the capital; a problem that makes the work of civil defense, such as the fire brigade, very difficult.

Khalid Al-Mulad, Yemen regional Islamic relief representative, Flavia Pansieri UN regional Coordinator, Micheal Gifford, the British ambassador in Sana'a and Dr. Hani El Banna, the founder and chairman of the Islamic relief addressed the course. They all spoke of the importance of methods of addressing disaster and to find ways of access to specific data, and early warning. They demanded effective dealing with such matters.

In his part, Khalid Al-Mulad, said that the external aid and the international help in managing local disasters can never be as effective and adequate as the local ones, pointing out that time is a crucial factor in the rescue operations. He added: “I am not exaggerating if I say that the external aid is unable to do anything without a national capability in managing disasters.”

Dr. Hani El Banns stressed on the importance of educating the local people and enhancing their awareness of the way they must deal and respond to natural as well as human-made disasters. He again stressed on the importance of women in the relief process since women and children are the most victims of such crises, pointing out that 60-70 percent of the refugees after these crises are women and children.

The 5 days training course, which will end on December 25, includes participants from Islamic Relief staff as well as staff members of other Islamic Relief partners in the region of Middle East. The course is taking place in Kawkban Hall, Sheraton Hotel, Sana'a. The course includes representatives from different Arab countries including Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Iraq, Palestine, Jordan and Egypt, as well as representatives form the Yemeni Civil Defence, local NGOs and relevant governmental bodies in Yemen.

The course aims at building the capacity as well as enhancing the knowledge of participants of the subjects relating to managing natural disasters. These subjects will include analytical methods of developing the understanding of dealing with disaster and its different aspects such as needs assessment, available resources, principles of humanitarian work, “sphere” as well as working with refugees and IDPs applying the recognized international criteria.

It is worth mentioning that Islamic Relief is an international relief and development charity, which aims to alleviate the suffering of the world's poorest people. It is an independent Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) founded in the UK in 1984.