On Monday, August 1, the Perry Center began its annual Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) course. Nearly 50 participants representing 20 nations in the Americas are attending the weeklong academic event which 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 (USSOUTHCOM). This year’s course is being conducted online.
Perry Center Deputy Director Jeffrey Murphy 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, Commander of USSOUTHCOM in Miami, has made humanitarian assistance and foreign disaster relief two of the main components of one of her efforts to “strengthen partnerships.”
On the fourth day of the course, Dr. Anjuli Bamzai, from the Directorate of Geosciences at the US National Science Foundation, will speak about climate change and its effects on nations in the hemisphere, a central theme of the course. Dr. Bamzai spoke at previous HADR courses about the dangers of climate change and will deliver one of the most important presentations of the course in that climate change represents a series of grave risks to Caribbean Basin nations.
The course will last five days until Friday, August 5. Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Western Hemisphere Affairs (DASD-WHA) Daniel Erikson will provide closing remarks.