European Commission’s Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection (DG ECHO)
The Humanitarian Aid Office was founded in 1992, as indication of the European solidarity to the people in need for providing help all over the world. In 2004 the Service continued its work as European Commission’s Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection (DG ECHO). While in 2010 in the field of its responsibilities, the civil protection was included, targeting better coordination and more effective confrontation of disasters, within and out of the borders of EU.
The European Commission’s Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection (DG ECHO) is headquartered in Brussels and as of November 2014 it operates under the responsibility of the Cypriot commissioner mr. Christos Stylianides.
Its work is not limited only to the confrontation of the immediate consequences of a disaster. It covers many more stages: prevention, preparedness, confrontation and restoration. This involves a wide range of activities aimed at:
· Reducing the danger of disasters, i.e. thanks to strategies for limiting the effects of climate change
· Improve preparedness i.e. by developing means, like early warning systems,
· Ensure a smooth transition, after the completion of the emergency operations, mainly through the cartography of appropriate exit strategies,
· Reinforce the overall shielding of the population i.e. connecting the provision of emergency aid with “tools” of long-term recovery and development.
The European Commission’s Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection is assisted by the Civil Protection Committee which comprises of representatives of EU Member States, candidate countries and representatives from the European Economic Area. The Civil Defence Force participates with a representative at the Civil Protection Committee and also at other subcommittees having the purpose to support its work.
EU Civil Protection Mechanism
The EU Civil Protection Mechanism that was established in 2001 and revised in 2007 was an important initiative at European level. The Mechanism provides a frame of cooperation and assistance in emergency cases and can be activated both within and outside the Union. It promotes the cooperation between the member states of the EU in the civil protection field and supports the efforts of the member states in national, regional and local level, providing effective “tools” for the prevention, preparedness and confrontation of natural or manmade disasters. Every country that has been hit from major disasters can request assistance from the Civil Protection Mechanism. The Civil Defence Force is the body of the Cyprus Republic through which international aid is claimed or provided.
The functioning of the Mechanism is supported mainly by:
· Emergency Response Coordination Center – ERCC,
· Common Emergency Communication and Information System – CECIS,
· The databases (Rescue Modules, Civil Defence Modules, and TAST Modules) with the available sources and
· The Training Programme and the Exchange of Experts Programme
Training Programme of the EU Civil Protection Mechanism
The training programme of the EU Civil Protection Mechanism is addressed to personnel that takes part in operations or is occupied with the subject of providing and receiving help through the Mechanism.
The training programme includes mainly the following courses:
· Induction Course
· Operational Management Course
· High Level Coordination Course
Since 2006 another three courses were added as listed below:
· High Level Coordination Refresher Course
· Staff Management Course
· Assessment Mission Course
Since 2007 the following courses were added:
· Media and Security Strategy
· Operational Management Refresher Course
· International Coordination Course
· Modules Basic Course
· Information Management Course
Exchange of Experts programme
According to the expert exchange programme, each Civil Protection body of the countries participating in the Mechanism can invite civil protection experts to demonstrate their working methods and exchange experience in their field of specialization. Moreover, it is possible that civil protection experts from these bodies participate in the programme for learning new techniques and working methods to countries that participate in the programme.
Information for the programme is provided at the homepage http://www.exchangeofexperts.eu
The Civil Defence Force has the coordinating role in the exchange of experts programme for Cyprus.
First national risk assessment report of the Republic of Cyprus
According to Article 6(a) of the decision 1313/2013/EU of the Euro-parliament and the Council, every member state of the European Mechanism of Civil Protection should have made available to the Commission, by December 22, 2015, a summary of their risk assessments at national or appropriate sub- national level. As far as the Republic of Cyprus is concerned, the Report has been prepared by the Cyprus Civil Defence in cooperation with the Department of Environment and is carried out by the consortium ADVANCED ENVIRONMENTAL STUDIES S.A, G. KARAVOKYRIS & PARTNERS CONSULTING ENGINEERS S.A, DION. TOUMAZIS AND ASSOCIATES and AGRICULTURAL UNIVERSITY OF ATHENS. Also, the Commissioner and the Office of the Commissioner of Electronic Communications and Postal Regulation of Cyprus takes part, with KPMG company carrying out the relevant study.
Article 6(a) of the decision: In order to promote an effective and coherent approach to prevention of and preparedness for disasters by sharing non- sensitive information, namely information whose disclosure would not be contrary to the essential interests of Member States' security, and best practices within the Union Mechanism, Member States shall:
(a) develop risk assessments at national or appropriate sub- national level and make available to the Commission a summary of the relevant elements thereof by 22 December 2015 and every three years thereafter;
The submitted report is available in English and can be found here.