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The French contribution

As soon as France, a contracting party to the Barcelona Convention and co-financer of REMPEC, received the request for assistance from the Lebanese authorities, the Secrétariat Général de la Mer coordinated the technical assistance from the French Navy, the Ministry of Transport, the Ministry of the Environment, the Foreign Office and Cedre. Cedre's response centre was put into action to provide technical information on resources, techniques and response products.


Cedre played the role of general secretary for the group of experts, designated by REMPEC to draw up the international assistance action plan which was validated on 17 August in Piraeus. A member of Cedre's management team left for Beirut on 21 August to set up a local international assistance coordination mission for REMPEC. Cedre permanently had 1 or 2 specialists on the operation coordination committee, at the Lebanese Ministry of the Environment until 19 October.

In Lebanon, the agents from Cedre ensured the local coordination of international aid and provided technical assistance. A large number of visits to the affected areas (reconnaissance, worksite monitoring) were organised. The conditions were difficult due to the destruction caused by the war and the lack of logistical means (transport, communication).

Pollution reconnaissance surveys carried out along the shoreline (aerial, marine and on land) allowed accurate impact assessment. Recommendations were made in terms of crisis and response management (health and safety, closing beaches, environment, initial collection and clean-up, waste management...). The visits to the areas hit helped to define the priorities in terms of response and the required equipment.

A helicopter from the warship the Jean Bart carried out a first overflight of the coastal and maritime area affected by the pollution on 20 August. This overflight showed that no significant volumes of oil continued to drift at sea and that the marks of pollution on the shore were concentrated in the areas exposed to southerly winds and currents.

On 23 August, the French Ministry of Equipment and the French Navy sent equipment, which arrived on site on 28 August. It was then joined by a team of 8 specialists who were put in charge of training the Lebanese workforce in equipment handling. The team began clean-up operations in the Byblos area with help from a workforce provided by the Lebanese Navy and trained teams of volunteers for beach clean-up operations. The response equipment was left on site, at the disposal of the Lebanese authorities.

Assistance was also provided by the environmental association Bahr Loubnan, put in charge of mobilising volunteers for beach clean-up operations by the Lebanese Government.

In total, the French aid, both in terms of equipment and personnel, was estimated at €1 million.

Last update on 01/12/2006
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