15 August, Geneva, Switzerland - UNOSAT and the European Commission Emergency Response Centre (ERC) are discussing how to take to the next level their collaboration and exchange of information, building on almost 10 years of positive history.
Since 2013 a new Emergency Response Centre (ERC), operated within ECHO, the European Commission Humanitarian Office, has been set up to support better response to disasters both inside and outside the European Union. The Centre is connected to 32 countries participating in the EU Civil Protection Mechanism.
This new Centre is an upscale development of the previous Monitoring and Information Centre (MIC) of the European Commission with which UNOSAT has had long standing collaboration ties. On multiple occasions UNOSAT analysis has been fed to EU experts at the MIC centre for further use in information products used by EU civil protection and European Commission officials in dealing with large emergencies outside Europe.
The new ERC capacity is based in Brussels and has the ability to collect and analyse real-time information on disasters and emergency situations. It also monitors hazards, prepares plans for the deployment of experts and equipment, and works with EU countries to coordinate EU's disaster response. In June the UNOSAT Manager and the UNITAR Research Director visited the new Centre and discussed with its management ways to upscale the existing exchange of information and collaboration methods building on the extended capacity of ERC. The UN Emergency Relief Coordinator Valerie Amos also visited the Centre in July in another indication of the constructive cooperation between the European Commission and the UN in the area of emergency response.
Asked whether UNOSAT could spread its activities to cover also disasters in the EU area, UNOSAT Manager Einar Bjorgo said “We specialize mostly in humanitarian crises, events that are not likely to occur in any EU country. Our colleagues at the Commission have great experience civil protection emergencies and can mobilise resources in humanitarian contexts. Our current collaboration is focused on large emergencies outside Europe, where the UN has a leading coordination role, but we are also reflecting on our options regarding Europe. The spirit is to help each other do a better job”.
Above: the premises of the new Centre in Brussels; Peter Billing (left), Deputy Head of the Unit "Crisis Response" at ECHO, explains how the Centre operates.
Middle: Under-Secretary-General Valerie Amos visits the ERC in July accompanied by EU Commissioner Georgeva; in front of them some of the UNOSAT maps used by the Commission (courtesy ECHO)
Below: Einar Bjorgo (right) and Peter Billing during the visit.