Most of us may not know that ASEAN has a special team that is always ready when needed by the affected countries the disaster. Association of Southeast Asian Nations Emergency Response and Assessment Team or ASEAN ERAT is a team that is equipped with specialized knowledge and skills during emergency response, such as rapid assessment, coordination and resource mobilization, and facilitating humanitarian assistance. A team from the ASEAN countries have a role in disaster response quickly.
Establishment of ASEAN ERAT cannot be separated from the context and the high potential for disaster in Southeast Asia region. ASEAN ERAT was first formed by the ASEAN Committee on Disaster Management (ACDM) in 2007, which adhered to the AADMER and ASEAN SASOP. ASEAN Agreement on Disaster Management and Emergency Response or AADMER signed with the July 26, 2005 is a framework of cooperation, coordination, technical assistance, and mobilization of resources in emergency response, while ASEAN SASOP is standard operating procedure against a humanitarian mission with ASEAN.
Concrete efforts towards the strengthening of ASEAN ERAT appear on the document AADMER Work Program (2010-2015). One item of priority in the second phase of the document is on strengthening the capacity and role of ASEAN ERAT. In November 2013, ASEAN ERAT’s role not only do rapid assessment but also provide logistical support, communication, and coordination during emergency response.
ASEAN ERAT was first mobilized during a humanitarian mission after the Cyclone Nargis in Myanmar in 2008. Until now ASEAN ERAT has conducted several humanitarian missions, such as the Mentawai tsunami (2010), Bangkok Flood (2011), Bopha Typhoon (2012), Bohol Earthquake (2013), Haiyan and Rammasun Typhoon (2014). The last mission took place during the flood emergency response in Myanmar some time ago.
In an effort to strengthen ASEAN ERAT, AHA Centre has made five special training is the first generation to the third place in Singapore (2010, 2011, 2013), the fourth and fifth place in Indonesia (2014, 2015). Total personnel ASEAN ERAT reached more than 100 personnel. Indonesia has 10 personnel from the National Disaster Management Authority as the focal point of disaster management in Indonesia, non-governmental organizations, and the Indonesian Red Cross.
A team of government agencies, the ASEAN Secretariat, the AHA Centre, and non-governmental organizations is to get a briefing on the ASEAN Coordinating Centre for Humanitarian Assistance on Disaster Management (AHA Centre) which is supported by various parties, especially the United Nations. In this year, there are several organizations that support the implementation of training ASEAN ERAT, among others Indonesia NDMA, the Government of Australia and Japan, Singapore Civil Defense Force (SCDF), United Nations Office of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA), AADMER Partnership Group, the International Red Cross (IFRC) and Channel News Asia.
ASEAN ERAT as Symbol of Solidarity and Togetherness
The deployment of ASEAN ERAT personnel have the principle of independence at disaster ground. Technically, ASEAN ERAT be under the responsibility of the AHA Centre based in Jakarta, Indonesia. The deployment of ASEAN ERAT depends on the needs in the field of disaster. ASEAN ERAT is a team that arrived immediately at the scene 8 hours after the activation of the AHA Centre. The team will assist the government agencies that became the focal point of disaster management.
ASEAN ERAT is a symbol of solidarity and emotional relations among the ASEAN countries. Solidarity by working together, One ASEAN One Response necessary concrete measures so that this is not only a symbol but real. In addition, ASEAN ERAT be actualization of emotional relationship, especially when one of the countries in the ASEAN region through disaster.
“It is about professionalism,” said Said Faisal, the Executive Director of AHA Centre on the opening of the ASEAN ERAT training on June 2015. Faisal said that professionalism is very important in realizing the function of closely at the disaster site to provide more value for countries exposed to disasters. ASEAN ERAT demand professionalism in every emergency response operations. The aspiration to have a world quality standards being targeted in the future. “Good is not enough for being closely or ‘erat’, we need more than a good (great)”, said Said Faisal.Professionalism as the foundation of role of ASEAN ERAT in the disaster ground which includes:
- Conducting rapid assessment in the affected locations;
- Estimating the scale of the damage and impact of disasters;
- Collecting information and reporting needs of the affected communities;
- Coordinating joint AHA Centre for mobilization, response, and mobilization of resources, capacity and logistic support to the disaster site.