B-FAST hosts the UN OSOCC course in Brussels

Mon, 09/02/2013
In cooperation with the United Nations B-FAST organised in Brussels a course on international coordination in humanitarian emergency operations.

From 2 to 6 September 2013, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN OCHA) organized a training course about the On-Site Operations Coordination Centre (OSOCC). The training course took place in Brussels, for the second time on Belgian territory. B-FAST hosted this training course and selected the Egmont Palace as setting for the event.

The OSOCC-concept was developed by OCHA and the International Search and Rescue Advisory Group (INSARAG). The idea is to assist a disaster-stricken country in the coordination of international aid. Although initially this tool was only applied in the case of earthquakes, it has gradually been used in the event of floods, hurricanes, tsunamis and complex emergency situations as well. The last category concerns aid in countries where governmental authority is  undermined by an internal or external conflict.

28 participants were enrolled, coming from Europe, Africa and the Middle East. Among them there were beginners as well as experts in various specialties such as civil protection, UNDAC, Defence, Foreign Affairs, fire brigade,…  Three colleagues of B-FAST were invited to this training course: Mr Nicolas Tuts (Civil Protection), Mr Yvan Somers (Public Health) and Gilles du Bois d’Aissche (Defence).

During this week, under the expert guidance and supervision of several speakers and lecturers  (among whom Sally Griffiths and René Wagemans), the participants received a wide range of theoretical explanations on various subjects, including an introduction to the international coordination of humanitarian operations, the UNDAC system, meeting and information management and the importance of the security aspect. 

Obviously, the setting for this training course was not limited to the Egmont Palace. Other places were selected for acquiring skills. The Tervuren Park and the surrounding woods were the scene of elaborate exercises on the use of  communication and information systems (BGAN/Thuraya – GPS – Mapping and Geo Data).

On the next-to-last day, the entire OSOCC concept was turned into practice, allowing the participants to experience all its challenges. This “field work” became even more realistic thanks to the cooperation of our own communication service (P&C3), urging the new team leaders to immediately apply their media skills in a few unexpected interviews.

At the end of each training day, the B-FAST Secretariat’s initiatives made a welcome change: suppers were served in various places in the capital, followed by a guided evening walk to some Brussels places of interest.  

The official dinner at Val Duchesse formed the highlight of this successful week.

After the presentation of the certificates on Friday, the OSOCC week was officially closed, leaving the participants with a highly positive impression.  Ready for a new appointment in a couple of years?  The B-FAST Secretariat is at your disposal.

More on OSOCC: www.unocha.org