US ready to help if disaster strikes

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In case of a disaster, the United States stands ready to lend its support, resources, and expertise to Cyprus, US Ambassador Judith Garber assured.

During the emergency Disaster Equipment handover at Larnaca’s CYCLOPS Training Centre, the Ambassador said the United States and Cyprus had worked together to advance regional maritime safety and improve the island’s resilience to various crises.

She said rising temperatures are intensifying, bringing drought, wildfires, and rising sea levels that may threaten the lives and livelihoods of millions of people.

“However, although certain natural disasters are inevitable, our collective responses to them are not”.

Garber said that during the Lebanon Crisis of 2006, Cyprus’ Civil Defense did not hesitate to assist over 15,000 Americans and other foreign nationals in one of the biggest non-combatant evacuation missions in history.

“The United States Embassy proudly donates eight containers of tents, cots, environmental control units, and other emergency disaster equipment valued at over $945,000 to Civil Defence.”

The US diplomat argued that natural and man-made disasters are inevitable, noting that the international community can and must come together proactively to address these challenges.

“The United States is proud to do its part to ensure Civil Defence is better prepared for the next crisis. We are stronger together”.

Commander of Civil Defense Maria Papa said that disaster management, even though directly related to emergency management, is a completely different field and requires different expertise and rationale.

She said disaster management refers to extraordinary, unexpected, large-scale events which do not happen regularly, but when they do, they have a high impact on the wider population.

“Cyprus has a dedicated Disaster Management Agency with the responsibility of dealing with the full disaster management cycle of mitigation, preparation, response, and recovery.

“This is the Cyprus Civil Defence Force. A major part of our daily work involves training and preparing the public to deal with a disaster”.

Civil Defence trains approximately 1% of the total population annually through a small local training centres network.

The Fire Department, the Police, the Ambulance Service, and local hospitals, with all of the essential services, organise training exercises.

“We also respond to emergencies as an auxiliary force, assisting the first responders in controlling them before escalating to a disaster.

“It is because of this long-time acquired knowledge and experience in organising and executing successful training to adults that the Foreign Ministry asked us to undertake the management of CYCLOPS.”

Stocks

A major part of their work is acquiring and storing necessary items to be used as immediate humanitarian support equipment in a disaster.

These include storing tents, camp beds, bed sheets and blankets to offer shelter to people made homeless from a disastrous event.

“It is unfortunate that our critical stocks have been depleted over the past years due to the uncontrolled inflow of thousands of illegal immigrants who desperately needed shelter.

“Because of this extraordinary need, Cyprus Civil Defence was mobilised and undertook a big part of the initial effort to support the waves of illegal migrants who arrived and continue to arrive in Cyprus.

“We are extremely thankful to the United States and especially the US Embassy for coming to our aid with the donation of a substantial quantity of tents, beds, bed sheets, pillows and blankets to refill our stores and make us confident that, if needed, they will provide emergency shelter to hundreds if not thousands of civilians in need,” said Papa.