Lebanon

Lebanon: LAF and UNIFIL conduct joint exercise in natural disaster response

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Naqoura, Lebanon - An exercise in large-scale disaster response was conducted on 10-11 August jointly by the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) and the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), in cooperation with a number of government and non-government organizations in the village of Srifa in south Lebanon.

The two-day exercise entitled "United Beacon" was based on a fictitious scenario of an earthquake measuring 6 on the Richter scale, resulting in several casualties in southern Lebanon.

The exercise aimed at enhancing the coordinated capability of all the participating agencies to effectively respond to an unforeseen natural disaster.

The exercise was reviewed this afternoon by UNIFIL Force Commander Major-General Claudio Graziano, Brigadier-General Hussein El-Hajjar representing the Lebanese Armed Forces Commander and Brigadier-General Maroun Khraish LAF Commander of the South District and President of the National Committee of Disaster Management.

The exercise involved 350 soldiers, 70 vehicles and one helicopter of the Lebanese Armed Forces and 350 soldiers, 70 vehicles and two helicopters of UNIFIL. Also participating were units of the Internal Security Forces, Civil Defence, Lebanese Red Cross, teams of the concerned Ministries of the Lebanese Government and local NGOs.

A number of coordinated immediate response activities were carried out. These included deployment of emergency response teams by LAF and UNIFIL; aerial and ground reconnaissance of affected area; search, rescue and relief activities including first aid for victims, medical evacuation by ground and air transportation, deployment of fire-fighting and engineer assets for clearing debris and Explosive Ordnance Disposal

Major-General Graziano said: "Whereas one wishes that a natural disaster never strikes any people, preparedness to respond to such an eventuality is always important in order to mitigate the resulting damage to life and property. In such situations, immediate first response is critical to save human life, treat the injured, and to prevent further injury and other forms of loss."

"This exercise is an important step in the continued efforts of UNIFIL and the Lebanese Army to enhance our combined ability to deal with any natural disaster in our area of operations," he added.

Brigadier-General Maroun Khraish briefed the media on the objectives of the exercise. He said: "In the coming days LAF and UNIFIL will together review the results of the exercise in order to identify the lessons learned and to further improve the effectiveness of interventions in the eventuality of major disasters".

For further information, please contact Lt. Colonel Diego Fulco,
UNIFIL Senior Military Spokesperson Public Information Office:
Tel.: +961 1 827 305 (office); +961 70990830 (cell);
Fax: +961 1 827 016;
Email: unifil-mil-pio@un.org