JAKARTA, 5 November 2018 – The ASEAN Regional Disaster Emergency Response Simulation Exercise 2018 (ARDEX-18) kick-started today in Banten, Indonesia.

The event was opened by Chief of Indonesian National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) Willem Rampangilei, Secretary-General of ASEAN Dato Lim Jock Hoi, Member of Indonesian Parliament Ei Nurul Khotimah, Executive Director of the AHA Centre Adelina Kamal, and the Head of the Banten Provincial Disaster Mitigation Agency.  Participants included representatives from ASEAN National Disaster Management Organizations, Dialogue Partners, UN agencies, the private sector, INGOs, and local NGOs, as well as military personnel.

The ARDEX-18 will discuss and test the ASEAN Standard Operating Procedure for Regional Standby Arrangements and Coordination of Joint Disaster Relief and Emergency Response Operations (SASOP); coordination between national and regional mechanisms; ASEAN Emergency Response and Assessment team (ASEAN-ERAT) and UNDAC interoperability; and  civil-military coordination.

During the opening session, Dato Lim emphasised that building a disaster resilient ASEAN is a major priority for ASEAN that requires a whole-of-society approach. The ARDEX-18 was timely as it also reflects key discussions of the 6th ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on Disaster Management, held in Putrajaya on  4 October, on public-private partnerships through enhanced cross-sectoral collaboration and partnerships.  The Secretary-General also highlighted that this event would help build capacity, maximise the use of available resources and would not only benefit the ASEAN Member States but also ASEAN Dialogues Partners.

BNPB Chief Willem stressed that as the ASEAN region is highly vulnerable to a wide range of disasters, it is critical for ASEAN to invest in national capacities and regional coordination through training and simulation exercises. He also highlighted the role of AHA Centre as the main engine of disaster management coordination in the ASEAN region. He underscored the important role of the Secretary-General of ASEAN as ASEAN Humanitarian Assistance Coordinator in the implementation of the ‘ASEAN Agreement on Disaster Management and Emergency Response’ (AADMER), as well as the ASEAN Declaration on ‘One ASEAN One Response’.

In her remarks, the AHA Centre Executive Director underlined the need for ASEAN to avoid complacency in disaster preparedness. The ARDEX initiative was thus crucial to continuously improve regional disaster preparedness, she said.

First organised in 2005, the ARDEX is ASEAN’s prime disaster preparedness initiative. This year’s ARDEX will simulate a scenario of an 8.7 magnitude earthquake and tsunami, inflicting damages on a major industrial hub – in this exercise, Cilegon, and the southern coastal areas of Sumatra and West Java. It is also the first to adopt a scenario of a major disaster occurring in an industrial zone, which requires stronger coordination in handling hazardous materials and chemical disaster risks.