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Work shop on “Earthquakes and Seismic Risk Mitigation in Palestine – SASPARM Project” (Building the resilience of Palestinian Communities to Disasters)- Predicting Earthquakes, Risk Mitigation and Our Readiness.

21/11/2013 17:30:00


Thu, 2013-11-21

On Wednesday, November 20th, 2013, the National Agency for Disaster Risk Reduction and the Urban Planning and Disaster Risk Reduction Center-Seismic Risk Mitigation Center at An-Najah National University, with the cooperation of the Ramallah Municipality Public Library held a workshop under the title, “Earthquakes, Prediction, Risk Mitigation and Our Readiness,” in the presence of a number of intellectuals from the cultural organization Salon Ramallah.



Dr. Hala Keileh, the Director of the Ramallah library, where the symposium took place, welcomed the attendees and thanked the National Agency for Disaster Risk Reduction and the Urban Planning and Disaster Risk Reduction Center at An-Najah National University for their cooperation and indicated the importance of holding and organizing these activities that aim to build the capacities of Palestinian society to prepare and deal with these earthquakes and disasters.
The Director of the National Agency, the Retired Brigadier General Wassef Erekat, thanked the Director of the Ramallah Library, Dr. Hala Keileh, and Rania Husseni for the initiation and interest in the holding this important activity, as he also thanked the attendees and Dr. Jalal Dabeek, the Director of the Center at the University, for their constant support.
General Erekat talked about the international interest in the generalization of the culture of disasters and working towards disaster risk mitigation with regards to the sequence of the emergence of disaster management. This started with Gilbert Wight’s article, which addressed the importance of the floodplain management architecture in the United States of America; it developed into Kate-White Colleagues School, which used human behavior toward disaster reduction and policy analysis to reduce loses and brought this interest to the United Nations.  The UN later adopted the Yokohama Strategy in 1994 and the “Plan Action for a Safer World” guidelines. It developed into the international strategy and adopted the Hyogo framework of action. This led to a discussion of Arab strategy to give more importance to this topic and allocate a national day for disaster risk reduction. General Erekat also discussed the emergence of the National Agency and its development, and stressed two facts: Firstly, science doesn’t rely on neutrality when it comes to analyzing the relationship between the human being and nature, but must discuss earthquakes and disasters outright. Second, Palestine is in need of self-reliance and self-restraint in this field because of the presence of the occupation and border control, and neighboring countries are preoccupied with their own concerns in the time of emergencies. He said that he who wants to face disasters should be occupied with building capacities, enhancing morals, and preparing for all possibilities.
Dr. Jalal Dabeek, the Director of the Urban Planning and Disaster Risk Reduction Center‘s Seismic Risk Mitigation Center at An-Najah National University, and the Vice President of the National Agency for Disaster Risk Reduction, presented a scientific symposium that highlighted the earthquakes predicted to occur in Palestine and their risk mitigation. The symposium included how to assess the risk of disasters in general and earthquakes in particular, the factors affecting the amount and level of loss, the risks that earthquakes and other kinds of disasters sorts leave behind, and the principals elements for managing these risks. On display throughout the symposium were the most important objectives, tasks and events of the Disaster Risk Reduction Project (the SASPARM), which the Center carries out within the  FP7 European Projects in Palestine, in coordination with the European Center for Seismic Engineering EUCENTER and Institute of Advanced Studies IUSS in Pavia, Italy.

The second part of this symposium included an introduction of earthquakes, reasons for their occurrence, and standards upon which experts rely to predict earthquakes. The attendees learned about the active areas of rifts in Palestine and the area, which is considered the seismic focal point at which relatively strong earthquakes may occur in the future.

In the third part of the symposium, the discussion was about the architectural and construction patterns used in many buildings in Palestine, which don’t meet the minimum building requirements needed to resist earthquakes. Dr. Dabeek showed how to identify and classify the seismic vulnerability to buildings and thus determine the levels or degrees of damage and landslides needed for existing buildings, as well as how to conduct a rapid damage assessment after a disaster. He also stressed that the Engineers Association in Palestine will implement an “Action Seismic” design for buildings starting from the beginning of 2014, as a result of the joint efforts and work between the Engineers Association, the Center, the Ministry of Local Government and the Ministry of Public Labors. He also pointed to the evolution and efforts of the Civil Defense in Palestine in the area of emergency response, and assured the importance of giving priority to support the Civil Defense and strengthen its capabilities.

Lieutenant Abdul Kareem Armoosh, the General Director of Bethlehem Civil Defense, talked about the potentials of civil defense and supreme council potentials, the importance of applying general guidelines, the correct behaviors during the time of disaster, the number of common errors made in such events, the importance of volunteers, building errors and how to avoid it, correct use of a fire extinguisher, the constant and intensive training civil defense carries out, and future plans. In addition, he gave an example of the Palestinians’ civil defense skills, when they contributed to extinguishing the Carmel fires at nighttime, which is not an easy task. First Lieutenant Abdul Kareem noted the number of evacuation exercises implemented, especially in camps, and indicated the observations that should be taken into account while preparing for the evacuation of the premises, such as the flow and knowing the correct methods in day and night; and then he concluded with several crucial tips in this area.

Afterwards, the attendees raised questions, which were characterized by seriousness and great interest in the subject and focused on the possibility of exploiting the potentials of interns and volunteers and communicating with them.

Finally, the symposium recommended that the Palestinian society support the resolution requiring the application of a building seismic code at the beginning of 2014, apply the instructions when designing the evacuation plans in public places, and commits to the general safety rules and use experts when needed.

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