UN and Lebanese forces conduct disaster preparedness exercises

UN and Lebanese forces conduct disaster preparedness exercises

UNIFIL-MTF and LAF navy conduct  Maritime joint exercise off the coast of Lebanon in  July 2009
The United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) and the Lebanese armed forces have carried out exercises in large-scale disaster response in the south of the country in an effort to strengthen their coordinated readiness to respond to emergencies.

The exercises, dubbed “United Beacon”, in the city of Tyr on Saturday and Sunday were carried out in coordination with a number of other government and non-government organizations, and were based on a fictitious reaction to a large humanitarian emergency in the aftermath of an earthquake.

The exercises were today reviewed by UNIFIL Chief-of-Staff, Brigadier-General Xavier Woillemont, and Brigadier-General Sadek Tlais, the South Litani Sector Commander of the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF).

They involved 277 soldiers, 70 vehicles and two helicopters of the Lebanese Army and UNIFIL. Also participating were units of the Internal Security Forces, LAF Intelligence, Civil Defence, Lebanese Red Cross, the Tyr Fire Brigade, Tyr Municipality, the concerned ministries of the Lebanese Government and local NGOs.

Activities included the 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 engineering assets for clearing debris and Explosive Ordnance Disposal.

“We have to be always prepared to respond to any natural disasters within our available resources and capabilities in order to be ready to mitigate the resulting damage to life and property,” Brig-Gen. Woillemont.

“An effective and immediate first response is paramount to reducing the number of casualties, to save lives, 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,” he added.