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International assistance

On 25 July 2006, the Republic of Lebanon's Ministry of Environment requested assistance through the REMPEC regional Mediterranean response centre from the members of the Barcelona Convention and other partners of the Mediterranean Action Plan. On 27 July, the Ministry also addressed a request for experts and material to the European Commission, which communicated this request to the member States. By 5 August, the pollution had spread to the Syrian shores, and Syria in turn requested assistance from REMPEC.

Upon request from REMPEC, Cedre immediately provided information on the different techniques suitable for pollution response on the shoreline and played the role of general secretary for an international experts working group in charge of establishing a response plan. During the second week of August, pollution response specialists were sent to assess the situation in Lebanon (European Commission) and in Syria (REMPEC).

REMPEC also called upon CYCOFOS (the Cyprus Coastal Ocean Forecasting and Observing System) for information on pollutant behaviour and drift predictions. Like the MOTHY model activated by Météo France at Cedre's request, these predictions indicated a tendency for the pollution to drift northwards, progressively polluting the shoreline.

Several satellite images, handled by CYCOFOS and the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission, confirmed this northward movement of the pollution. However, this imagery seemed to indicate a more significant presence of pollutant near the coast than the models. 

The work carried out by the Experts Working Group acted as a basis for establishing an international assistance action plan which was validated on 17 August in Piraeus (Greece) at a coordination meeting between the contributor organisations and the representatives of the countries in the area. This action plan was made up of three phases:

  • a short term phase, gathering in an organised manner the contributions of equipment and emergency specialists to combat the pollution
  • a medium term phase, once the clean-up plan was organised, gathering the contributions and financial aid within a structured shoreline clean-up programme
  • a long term phase, including a detailed impact study and reinforcement measures for the national and regional major pollution response capacities.
Clean-up site, Ramlet al Baida, September 2006
Clean-up site, Ramlet al Baida, September 2006
Last update: 01/12/2006