As the year 2015 is approaching its end, we had numerous of activities completed achieving our goal to expand our INSARAG network in the Middle East and North Africa region with more member countries joining our big family. Two International External Classifications took place this year in both Saudi Arabia and Qatar, which raises the number of INSARAG classified teams in the MENA region to six, while two additional countries (Algeria and Lebanon) who expressed also their willingness to start the process of the classification during the next period. In this context, we warmly welcome the adherence of the new IEC teams from Qatar and Saudi Arabia into the larger INSARAG network of IEC teams and we look forward for their active participation and engagement in future IECs/IERs as classifiers.

During this year, the UAE has generously hosted the INSARAG Global Meeting from 18-19 October with a total of 313 participants from 94 countries and organisations attending, it was the largest INSARAG gathering in history and OCHA FCSS wishes to thank the Government of UAE and Colonel Mohammed Al-Ansari for the host.

This year has also marked the launch of the INSARAG Guidelines 2015, which constitutes the cornerstone of INSARAG’s work. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia provided a generous contribution in translating these Guidelines into Arabic which paves the way for more engagement from regional partners in the type of work that INSARAG performs, and we look forward for volunteering countries to translate of the OSOCC guidelines as well as the VOSOCC website to further enhance the effectiveness of our work in the region.

We look forward to further strengthening the INSARAG network in the MENA region during the 2016 as we have planned additional relevant activities focusing essentially on empowering local capacities in Urban Search and Rescue.

We are perceiving an increasing number of natural disasters in the MENA region including two major tropical cyclones (Chapala and Megh) that hit Yemen during the month of November in addition to numerous flooding which took place in Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Iran, Oman and Saudi Arabia. Therefore the region needs to be supported by UNDAC members who speak the language an can support any UNDAC team deployed in a concerned country. During 2016, we are looking forward in expanding the pool of the UNDAC network in the region with additional members – and possibly a regional UNDAC team.

OCHA FCSS will be organising additional UNDAC activities during 2016 to further promote the UNDAC methodology needed for any response to disasters and link this methodology to other strategic preparedness initiatives that are currently taking place in the region.