Four Finnish civil protection experts return from Lebanon
Some of the Finnish civil protection experts deployed through the European Union Civil Protection Mechanism will return home from Beirut after their mission ends. The task of the experts ends in Beirut because the focus of international assistance has shifted from acute rescue operations to the reception of material assistance and other assistance activities.
On 7 August 2020, Finland sent a Finn Rescue – Technical Assistance and Support Team (TAST), which has been trained in international rescue operations, to Beirut. The team consisted of six experts, four of whom are now returning to Finland. Two members of the team will continue to work in the assistance mission. In addition, Finland sent a senior specialist to the EU expert team in Beirut, which will continue its work in the region.
“The expertise and assistance of the Finns in Lebanon has been important immediately after the extremely serious accident in Beirut. I would like to thank the civil protection experts who are returning to Finland and those who are still in Beirut for their work to help the victims of the accident,” Minister of the Interior Maria Ohisalo says.
Since Lebanon is one of the so-called high-risk countries, the experts returning to Finland will be quarantined to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
One of the tasks of the Finnish experts staying in Lebanon is to support the team coordinating international aid. The main focus of the tasks of the EU expert team has shifted from rescue operations to the reception of material and financial assistance and, for example, the assessment of environmental damage.
“The mission in Beirut demonstrates once again that Finnish expertise in civil protection is appreciated internationally. This is exactly how we are also strengthening our national competence in dealing with demanding accidents and incidents in Finland,” says Kimmo Kohvakka, Director General for Rescue Services.
Lebanon requested international assistance from the EU Civil Protection Mechanism, where Finland is a member, to deal with the explosion that took place in Beirut on 4 August 2020. Finland sent expert and material assistance to Beirut.
The decision to provide international assistance was made by the Ministry of the Interior. Pelastusopisto – Emergency Services Academy Finland is responsible for the training and recruitment of experts and logistics of international rescue operations.
Veera Parko, Director for International Affairs, Ministry of the Interior, tel. +358 29 548 8442, [email protected] (international assistance)
Ville-Veikko Pitkänen, Head of Education, Emergency Services Academy Finland, tel. +358 50 439 1846, [email protected] (Finland’s expert assistance)