Ziad Jalbout, LCOL, Lebanese Armed Forces,

I would like to express again and again my appreciation for the Comprehensive Crisis Management (CCM) course I had the chance to attend at DKI APCSS.  It was extremely informative and I was able to develop deep knowledge in how to deal with crises. But, what I didn’t expect, directly after the course, was to face a disruptive and unexpected crisis, exactly the way the course defined it. I am talking about the Beirut Blast that happened on August 4, 2020.

During the CCM course, we talked a lot about crises in the Far East where hurricanes, tsunamis, earthquakes, tornados happen more frequently than in the Middle East. But I had never witnessed any similar crises in Lebanon during my life. I thought that crises involving refugees and wars were all that we may face in Lebanon. The blast of Beirut proved I was wrong. This blast was perhaps like a tsunami, an earthquake or even a hurricane by its effects.

After this blast I was able to remember every word that was taught and concept that was talked about during the course. I realized, for example, that the Lebanese authority didn’t have a pre-crisis phase that covered the possibility of what happened.  Why? It’s so simple: such a crisis was never included in any crisis management plan and no one expected such a huge blast to happen. I was able to witness and still I am doing, many aspects of the crisis response phase that is still taking place now.

I was sad to realize, during my assessment of this “Crisis Update from the Region,” that many cultural properties where severely damaged in Beirut and that there is no plan on how to deal with this problem. This unfortunate reality pushed me more and more to work hard on my Fellow’s Project. This Project is about preparing a handbook on how to protect cultural properties in armed conflicts to be used by Lebanese Armed Forces. The Lebanese Army is now taking the main responsibility for the response to the crisis and such a handbook will prove very useful in such crises in the future.

Fortunately, I started already working on this Project, and the Army is supporting me to the maximum, especially after the letter my boss received from DKI APCSS, six months ago. While the handbook cannot be used now for it is not finished, many parties have realized how important it is to support this project.

I talked a lot, but believe me, my course at DKI APCSS was a lifetime experience and I can even talk more and more.

Thanks a million