In a disaster relief situation, how do national authorities negotiate and deal with international actors to maximise the response impact? A two-day simulation exercise took place in Minsk on 29-30 March. It was conducted as part of the EU-funded “Programme on Prevention, Preparedness and Response to Natural and Man-made Disasters in the Eastern Partnership Countries” (PPRD East 2) and tested Belarusian’s arrangements for the effective reception and utilisation of international relief teams.
The purpose of the exercise was to enhance inter-institutional, inter-ministerial and inter-agency cooperation with regard to requesting and managing foreign civil protection assistance in accordance to the EU Host Nation Support Guidelines. It builds on a scenario where a serious disaster caused by natural hazard had occurred on the territory of Belarus and led the Government to request international assistance. In reply to the request for international assistance, several fictive rescue teams from EU Civil Protection Mechanism Participating States arrived to the country. Through negotiations and coordination meetings simulated by the PPRD East 2 expert team, the participants were faced with and had to resolve requests of different nature, like provision of assistance to the teams in border crossing, customs clearance, allocation of space for the establishment of camps, provision of fuel, escort to disaster affected areas and security, legal and liability aspects, etc.
The event was hosted by the Ministry of Emergency Situations of Belarus and took place at the Institute of Command Engineers. The exercise was attended by a number of experts from the Ministry of Emergency Situations, Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment Protection, Ministry of Public Health, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Transport and Communications, Ministry of Communication and Informatization, Ministry of Agriculture and Food, Ministry of Forestry, Ministry of Housing and Communal Services, Ministry of Defence, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Internal Affairs, State Customs Committee, State Border Committee, Minsk Oblast and City Executive Committees, concerns “Belgospishcheprom” and “Belneftekhim”, and Belarusian Red Cross Society.