By C. Winnie Saywah
Defense Minister Brownie Samukai says the support already provided the Disaster Preparedness Program organized by the Center for Disaster and Humanitarian Assistance Medicine, United States Africa Command (USAFRICOM) is helping the planning team understand the challenges in preparing for disasters and constraints as well as the training needed to mitigate the kind of valuable support that can be provided by the military in such situations.
Expressing government’s gratitude, Defense Minister Samukai said the USAFRICOM has been so generous to have selected Liberia among competing countries and that the government cherishes the partnership.
Making the remarks at the close of a planning discussion for development of the national civilian pandemic contingency plan and military support to civil authorities in disaster management plan yesterday, the Defense chief said particularly the Ministry of Defense supports the program at the highest level and that other partners will improve their staff to respond as they undergo the training.
Internal Affairs Minister and Chairperson for Liberia’s response to disaster, Morris Dukuly, said he has already begun reviewing issues on disaster readiness which is relatively new to him and called on all to be prepared because disaster is sudden and untimely therefore every nation and its people should take readiness as a matter of necessity.
He said there are certain aspects of a disastrous situation where the military more than any institution has to be called upon to lead and in retrospection, the objectives of the preparedness program, Liberia’s disaster response chairperson commended USAFRICOM and other international partners as he pledged his institution’s willingness to assist in consultation with the other partners in making Liberia better prepared to handle disaster.
The USAFRICOM Disaster Preparedness Program Manager, Erik Threet said addressing disaster is the critical concern of the US government because it is a global pandemic which is really not a health issue but more of a national security concern.
Mr. Threet said the US government is also partnering to build strong capacity for all hazards the Liberian government may face and that the USAFRICOM has a particular interest in strengthening nations that run into crises; not only crises but also as they join other countries in peace keeping missions and whenever disaster occurs during such events.
He said from a strategic standpoint, the USAFRICOM is also looking for any opportunity to work with African partners in military to strengthen civil military coordination during disaster which is a sustained engagement to enhance capacity.
Meanwhile, the meeting was supported by the Center for Disaster and Humanitarian Assistance Medicine (CDHAM). The USAFRICOM delegation has already left the country with plans to have another evaluation meeting hopefully in August.