On Monday, as part of the “Argonaftis 2015” search and rescue plan, 18 countries participated in an exercise in the Mediterranean including offshore and onshore Cyprus and the country’s airspace.
The exercise consisted of four parts, each of them testing the ability of the participants to evacuate civilians from problematic regions under emergency situations such as terrorism and piracy.
Deputy Head of the Department of Civil Defence Chrysilios Chrysiliou said that the exercise was held with the participation of 200 people from countries including the US, Canada, Australia, Belgium, Netherlands, Italy, Great Britain and Germany.
Chrysiliou added that “military personnel, ambassadors as well as services from the foreign affairs, interior, defence and justice ministries” from 18 countries took part in the exercise.
“The scenario of the exercise features the evacuation of civilians from another country in a crisis. Two hundred diplomats and members of the armed forces, as well as numerous services of the Republic such as the Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Interior, Defence and Justice take part in the exercise,” he added.
“This was largest exercise that Cyprus has participated in to date.”
Lieutenant commander John Nicholson from Canada said that “this exercise is a great opportunity to meet with people from these countries and to train people in the best possible way.”
“It is an opportunity to bring all these countries together, for us to communicate, to work together and to learn lessons so that we can be better in case we ever have to do a Non-Combatant Evacuation Operation[NEO].”
A Non-Combatant Evacuation Operations Coordination Group meeting will be held in Nicosia, Cyprus, between May 27 and 29.
Noncombatant Evacuation Operations (NEO) is the term for an emergency procedure for times of humanitarian crisis. NEO prioritises removal of civilians from dangerous areas to a safe haven.