ERBIL, IRAQ – Media OutReach – 16 April 2019 – The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and DPDHL, in partnership with the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG)’s Joint Crisis Coordination Centre (JCCC), is conducting a ‘Get Airports Ready for Disaster’ (GARD) workshop in Iraq from April 14 to 18, 2019 to prepare airport personnel for post-disaster logistics situations. The five-day workshop will provide training to a mixed group of thirty (30) airport staff as well as employees from relevant government agencies, at Erbil International Airport. This is the first time a GARD workshop is held in Iraq.
(L to R) Chris Weeks, Vice President, Humanitarian Services, Deutsche Post DHL Group, Vakhtang Svanidze, Deputy Country Director- Operations, Hoshang Mohammed, Director General JCC and Kawa Aziz, Deputy Director General EIA at the ‘Get Airports Ready for Disaster’ (GARD) workshop in Iraq. Since 2009 nearly 50 GARD workshops have been held in 24 countries, and nearly 1,160 attendees trained.
Iraq, in addition to security issues, faces multiple threats from natural disasters due to its varied climate, including drought and desertification, floods, sandstorms, and earthquakes. Along its border with Iran, where the Eurasian and Arabian tectonic plates meet, earthquakes occur frequently. In November 2017, a huge earthquake measuring 7.3 magnitude hit this area. It was the largest ever recorded in this region and considered the deadliest quake in the world that year.
“As a frequent responder to help after natural disasters, we at DPDHL see it over and over again — airports quickly get overwhelmed by the chaos of incoming relief aid, UN and NGO personnel, military organizations and the crowds of people trying to leave. Add to this the fact that humanitarian aid sometimes arrives faster than the airport can organize for it to get out, and you get a massive bottleneck in the flow of relief logistics. Timing is critical during a disaster and the more efficient an airport is at processing incoming aircraft, the faster aid can get out to those in need,” says Chris Weeks, Vice President, Humanitarian Services, Deutsche Post DHL Group. He continued, “We are really proud to be conducting our first GARD workshop in Iraq, and hope the authorities here see value in the training.”
One expected outcome of the GARD workshop is to identify areas in the airport that could potentially serve as key locations for disaster logistics operations. The GARD workshop will also evaluate the airports’ capacities for processing high volumes of passengers and cargo and warehousing relief supplies.
“We are very pleased with this partnership and we welcome this first-of-its kind initiative of the “GARD” as it will further enhance our crisis management capacities to respond to disaster-affected people timely through expediting and fast-tracking the importation and movement of relief items and humanitarian assistance as well as the entry and exit of the humanitarian personnel. We extend our thanks to UNDP Iraq and DPDHL for conducting this programme”. said Mr. Hoshang Mohamed, Director General of the KRG’s Joint Crisis Coordination Centre, Ministry of Interior.
Mr. Vakhtang Svanidze, the UNDP Resident Representative in Iraq says the airport preparedness matters to UNDP because “the threat of natural or man-made disasters remain high. For example, due to torrential rains, the country continues to witness large scale floods which have claimed lives, displaced people and destroyed property. The Mosul Dam poses significant risks to the lives and livelihoods of the vulnerable communities along the Tigris flood plain.” Mr. Svanidze continued that “managing the logistics of a large-scale disaster response can be complex. Air transport is crucial to providing smart and speedy humanitarian aid” and therefore UNDP actively “advocates for the vital role of airport preparedness for efficient disaster response”.
Since 2009 nearly 50 GARD workshops have been held in 24 countries, and nearly 1,160 attendees trained. In the Middle East, workshops were previously held in Tehran (2017), Almaty (2017), Aqaba (2016), Amman (2014), Yerevan (2013) and Beirut (2012).
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