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Press Centre (9/2014)

TURKEY and UNICEF Working together to help children prepare for emergencies

Using the latest innovations, Turkey and UNICEF have joined forces to focus on a child-centred humanitarian response. In collaboration with Turkey’s Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD), UNICEF visited a flagship centre in Bursa, north-west Turkey. The centre equips adults and children with the knowledge of what to do in the face of disaster.  

“The visit gave us first-hand experience ofhow the training sessions are run. Going through the simulation exercises was interesting and fun,” said Marie Pierre Poirier, Regional Director for Eastern Europe and Central Asia. “Focusing on preparedness for children and using knowledge from the centre, UNICEF and AFAD will create mobile units to reach children and their parents throughout the country,” she said.
The Disaster and Emergency Training Centre is one of the world’s most innovative centres for interactive learning and disaster and emergency simulations. The centre is open to the public daily and specifically encourages children to visit through organised school trips in partnership with the Ministry of National Education. From this first centre, UNICEF and AFAD will create mobile units based on the experience and technology of Bursa that will be able to reach people throughout the country.

In the context of the global SHA meeting organized in Istanbul, Ms. Poirier travelled with a delegation from AFAD to the centre earlier this month, together with UNICEF HQ colleagues including Afshan Khan, Emergency Programmes Director; Ted Chaiban, Director Programme Division; and Christian Salazar, Deputy Director Programme Division. From Turkey side the hosts where Deputy Governor of Bursa Province Ergun Gungor, H. Halil Afşarata, Head of Strategy Department, AFAD İbrahim Tari, Head of Bursa Center, AFAD.

The centre is a flagship for AFAD’s outreach work, helping to build resilient communities. The centre aims to reach 15,600 people in its first year. Once piloted, the intention is to use the model as a disaster and emergency awareness tool for children in other countries interested in joining this opportunity for horizontal learning and cooperation.

“Over the last years AFAD and UNICEF have worked closely together, including responding to the Syrian Crisis and the Van earthquake, and in areas such as Disaster Risks Reduction (DRR),” said Ms. Poirier. During the visit Halil Afşaraata also stated that “This collaboration has established a strong relationship in which UNICEF has become a partner of choice for AFAD on child focused humanitarian action.”

The relationship between UNICEF and AFAD, which is built on a strong foundation that realizes the mandate and the strengths of both partners, has several concrete actions planned for the remainder of 2014. These include a stand-by partner relationship and exchange of supplies logistics. This is part of the evolving partnership between UNICEF and Turkey, which gradually takes on an international dimension around child focused humanitarian action
UNICEF advocates that DRR not only addresses the risks faced by children and women but that children have a right to play an active role in DRR and climate change adaptation.
UNICEF Turkey Country Office, Yukarı Dikmen Mah. Alexsander Dubçek Cd. 7/106, 06450 Çankaya/Ankara. Telephone: +90 312 454 1000 Fax: +90 312 496 1461 E-mail: ankara@unicef.org