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The First International Specialized Training on Search and Rescue (USAR) in Iran

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United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) in cooperation with Red Crescent Society of the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Center for Crisis and Disaster Management Organization (ZRK) of Austria held the first ever International Training of Search and Rescue (USAR) in Iran based on INSARAG standards.

Tehran, Iran (December 15, 2018)-  IRCS Relief and Rescue Organization of Iran hosted 70 Iranian government officials in the field of search and rescue at the opening ceremony of the First International Training of USAR held by UNOCHA in cooperation of IRCS and ZRK organizations.

This 4-day specialized training facilitated by Norbert Furstenhofer, President of ZRK, Alois Hirschmugl, Deputy Head of the Competence Center for Risk and Disaster Diplomacy, Markus Bock, USAR-Specialist as the prominent figures of relief training in Austria.


Mr. Amirhossein Barmaki, Head of OCHA

This training was from 15-18 December with the aim of introduction to international disaster assistance system with emphasis laid on INSARAG to Iranian disaster management and crisis experts. The main purpose is to explain the importance of USAR INSARAG standards for effective (national and international) disaster response and assistance.

The USAR workshop is the first step to improve and enhance the capabilities for national as well as international USAR-deployments which is supported by Iran Relief and Rescue Organization and Iran IRCS.

In the opening speech of the workshop, Mr. Morteza Salimi, the Head of Iran Relief and Rescue Organization emphasized on the importance of the mutual cooperation with international organizations specially UNOCHA and said: We believe the continuation of this effective collaboration can pave the way for our international relief and rescue activities.

"This training is a great opportunity in Iran and this specialized training should be taught to our teams in different provinces as well. The Red Crescent Society's Rescue and Relief Organization announces its readiness to join the great family of INSARAG."

In relevant remarks, Stefan Scholz, the Ambassador of Austria in Iran opened the training and said:" the relationship between Iran and Austria dates back to seven hundred years ago, and for nearly 150 years the two country ties close diplomatic relationship together. We value this two-way relationship and will continue this beneficial collaboration."

He also expressed the hope that this training will be the initiation of future events between Iran and Austria and added:" The event today will undoubtedly lead to the transmission of Austrian experience in search and rescue to Iranian experts, and I hope that this workshop would lead to ongoing collaborations in this area."


Mr. Ahmad Sadeghi, Head of Crisis Management Organization of Tehran (TDMMO) was the other keynote speaker of the opening ceremony and underlined the vulnerable situation of Tehran in response to disaster management: "Tehran currently has 3268 hectare of old and vulnerable buildings, of which 15% of its population lives in them. For this reason, it should be noted that in the event of a crisis, more than one and a half million residents of Tehran in the early hours after the disaster are in danger. On the other hand, of 3,544 schools in Tehran, more than 1,000 schools are located near main and sub-fault lines. Organizing international researcher training courses can be an effective step in our preparedness to deal with natural disasters and crises." he added.

Mr. Amirhossein Barmaki, the Head of OCHA explained the importance of such training and efforts: It took four years of coordination and negotiation to reach this stage, and now IRCS with the support of NDMO and MFA organized the first intentional training on USAR in Iran.

 He pointed out the forming process of this workshop and said: This training is built based on an excellent experience of organizing the GARD training of 2017 just after the Kermanshah earthquake. UN is committed to support Iran in its accession to INSARAG and to create two heavy USAR national teams one for Tehran and another for the country.

"Austrian support has been crucial in this regard, as they provided some of the funding but most importantly the intentional technical expertise.  This activity has the potential of becoming a long-term project with the support of Austria and EU.Also, the INSARAG guidelines are translated into Farsi and are available.  "He said.

The head of UNOCHA mentioned the importance of regional response in the time of crisis and added: "The international community relies on Iran for regional response and even international assistance, and Iran having Intl USAR capacity is a great resource for the intentional community.  OCHA has already supported Iran in attendance of three intentional INSARAG simulations and has sent a number of experts to intentional training courses, such as PREP and CMCOORD. OCHA is in negotiation with ECO organization to set up a regional response based on ASEAN AHA center and initial discussions have taken place recently."/    
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