21/05/2012 – Today, civil protection intervention teams from seven Western Balkan countries are arriving near Zagreb in Croatia to take part in a four-day exercise simulating a large scale flooding. The teams from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Kosovo(*) will be participating side by side with their EU colleagues and trainers from Slovenia, Germany, Sweden and Luxembourg. The exercise will comprise different flood response techniques including water rescue, water pumping, diving in low visibility, and flood containment.
In parallel to the field operations, and coordinated by the Monitoring and Information Centre (MIC) of the European Commission the civil protection headquarters in each of the participating countries will also take part in the exercise. The scenario is that Croatia, as the affected country, has requested international assistance. From the beginning of the simulated disaster the MIC will be in constant contact with the countries that offer assistance, and will help facilitate the exchange of information and the coordination of the arriving assistance.
The CRO-FLOODS 2012 Field Exercise is an event of significant size. Apart from the flood response teams there are observers, evaluators, instructors, role players, exercise controllers and support personnel from 20 European countries adding up to no less than 350 participants in total. Seven exercise areas with different realistic scenarios have been prepared for flood rescue and response operations.
The exercise is part of the programme for civil protection cooperation between the EU and the candidate countries and potential candidates, which has been financed through the Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance (IPA). The main aim of the exercise and the programme as a whole is to bring the countries from the Western Balkan region closer to the EU Civil Protection Mechanism, to ensure their gradual integration into the system, and to enhance the regional cooperation for disaster preparedness and response.
(*) This designation is without prejudice to positions on status, and is in line with UNSCR1244 and the ICJ Opinion on the Kosovo Declaration of Independence