On Monday, June 19, the Perry Center began its annual Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) course, attended by 33 participants representing 17 nations in the Americas and Africa. The weeklong academic event includes speakers from the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA), the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), USAID’s Bureau of Humanitarian Affairs (BHA), and the US Southern Command (SOUTHCOM). This year’s course is being conducted online.
Course director Dr. Patrick Paterson provided the initial welcome and opening remarks to the participants. He noted that Latin America and the Caribbean are – second only to Asia/Pacific – the areas most likely to suffer from natural disasters. Volcanoes, earthquakes, tsunamis, landslides, forest fires, and droughts are frequent occurrences in the region. Man-made disasters – oil spills, industrial accidents, airplane crashes, and mass casualty events – can also occur. As a result, he observed, General Laura Richardson at the US Southern Command in Miami has made humanitarian assistance and foreign disaster relief two main components of SOUTHCOM’s “strengthen partnerships” line of effort.
Perry Center faculty are supported by Colonel Glyne Grannum of Barbados and Major George Benson of Jamaica, both graduates of Perry Center programs and frequent visiting professors who assist with courses and seminars.
Heavy emphasis will be placed on climate change and global warming during the seminar. The US Secretary of Defense has called climate change an existential threat and the effects will elevate the risk Latin American and Caribbean nations experience from natural disasters.
The HADR course will last five days until Friday, June 23. The President of National Defense University, Lieutenant General Michael Plehn, will provide closing remarks.