OCHA expands presence in Eurasia

5 July, 2012
Simulation exercise during the Inter-Agency Contingency Planning workshop in Yerevan. Credit: MoES Armenia
Simulation exercise during the Inter-Agency Contingency Planning workshop in Yerevan. Credit: MoES Armenia

After five years of working in Central Asia, OCHA expanded its presence in the region earlier this year to include countries in the Caucasus. Called the OCHA Regional Office for the Caucasus and Central Asia (ROCCA), the office now handles emergencies and crises in Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia. 

Immediately following the expansion, a ROCCA team deployed to the Caucasus for an introductory visit. The ROCCA Head of Office, Marcel Vaessen, and Humanitarian Affairs Officer Tamar Japaridze met Government officials, United Nations agencies and humanitarian partners to discuss critical issues relating to disaster preparedness and response in the region.

“The Caucasus region requires our dedicated attention,” said Mr. Vaessen. “Unresolved conflict situations, destructive earthquakes and technological disasters are just a few of the hazards threatening this vulnerable region.”

Since its expansion, OCHA has been actively engaged in humanitarian issues in the region and building partnerships with local and international aid organizations. In June, UN agencies, the Georgian Government, donors, international NGOs and the Georgian Red Cross Society discussed issues related to common emergency response preparedness at the inter-agency contingency planning (IACP) workshop. All participants agreed on the need to better coordinate agencies’ roles and responsibilities during emergencies. 

In July, ROCCA held an IACP/ crisis communications workshop in Yerevan, where UN agencies and humanitarian partners discussed potential threats, emergency scenarios and common issues that typically arise during major emergencies. They also discussed how the humanitarian community can better align its individual organizational plans to support the Government’s efforts during major disasters.

ROCCA has identified Azerbaijan as a potential emerging humanitarian donor in the region, and actively supports the development of its recently established aid institution–the Azerbaijan International Development Agency (AIDA).

ROCCA regularly analyses humanitarian aid flows in the region and publishes a quarterly regional humanitarian funding update. The update is based on the latest information reported to the Financial Tracking Service, and it highlights the importance of humanitarian aid provided to and by the region.

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