The following is a brief overview of latest activities of the International Search and Rescue Advisory Group (INSARAG). More information, including an archive of reports of meetings and an overview of events scheduled in 2001 are available at the INSARAG web site.
The meeting of the INSARAG Regional Group Asia/Pacific was held in Seoul, South Korea from 3-5 November 2000. Recommendations of the meeting: – that the INSARAG Guidelines (downloadable from the INSARAG Website) are a living document and a very useful checklist for national emergency management entities. Cambodia, China and India will review the document and send comments to the INSARAG Secretariat. It was recommended that the Guidelines include a section on the establishment of Reception Centres for international teams by the affected country. – to hold, on a yearly basis, elections to the position of Chairman and Vice Chairman of the Regional Group Asia/Pacific. For 2001, New Zealand was elected Chairman with effect from 1 April 2001, Korea was elected Vice Chairman. – Australia offered to host the next annual meeting for international Search and Rescue Team Leaders in Sydney in December 2001. – New Zealand offered to host the next INSARAG Regional meeting for Asia/Pacific in November 2001.
The meeting of the INSARAG Regional Group Africa/Europe was held in Hammamet, Tunisia, from 16 to 19 November 2000. Recommendations of the meeting: – the establishment of a regional Working Group on Fire related disasters, including wildland fires, hazardous materials, and the threat to major hazard installations; – to increasingly use advanced technologies, where appropriate, in disaster response and disaster response preparedness activities (e.g. Virtual OSOCC and video conferencing); – to hold, on a yearly basis, elections to the position of Chairman and Vice Chairman of the Regional Group Africa/Europe as well as regional Working Groups, starting from next year (2001); – the need for skills training standards for search and rescue teams to be developed. The meeting asked the Secretariat to task the INSARAG Working Group on Training to prepare such standards; – the need for joint training and exercises; – to ensure cross-fertilization among INSARAG regional groups by having observers from other regional groups attend regional meetings; – to undertake initial steps by a Core Group of interested countries, and with initial support of Switzerland, towards the elaboration of a Convention on Search and Rescue.
3. International SAR Convention (new INSARAG initiative)
Following recommendations of INSARAG Regional Groups, and further to the recommendation of the United Nations Secretary General to the Humanitarian Segment of the ECOSOC, an international convention for the deployment and utilization of search and rescue teams will be created. The Swiss Government has generously agreed to take the lead of the project in its initial phase.
As a first step, a Core Group of INSARAG member countries, including both providers and recipients of emergency aid, will be created. The Core Group will draft the text of the document based on the INSARAG Guidelines, and mobilize necessary support for the establishment of the Convention.
The Field Coordination Support Unit (FCSU) in OCHA-Geneva, in its capacity as INSARAG Secretariat, will facilitate the process. Countries and organizations, that are interested to support the international SAR Convention can obtain further information from:
Mr. Piero Calvi-Parisetti Senior Consultant to OCHA Field Coordination Support Unit (FCSU) Disaster Response Branch (DRB) Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) Geneva, Switzerland