An Israeli expert has been included for the first time on a United Nations Disaster Assessment and Coordination team. The team left this morning to assist the government of Zanzibar to determine the humanitarian problem on Unguja Island resulting from the power cutoff two weeks ago.

(Communicated by the Foreign Ministry Spokesman)

Gilli Shenhar, an Israeli expert on disaster management, is leaving today (Tuesday, 10 June 2008) as a member of the United Nations Disaster Assessment and Coordination team (UNDAC) for Unguja Island, Zanzibar.  Shenhar is a member of the team of experts that will determine the humanitarian status on the island which has been suffering from a power cutoff for the past two weeks.

Shenhar, a senior consultant and disaster assessment and coordination expert from Tel Aviv University, is the first Israeli to join a UNDAC delegation. The organization has a reserve of experts, including some 150 experts in the field of disaster management, from 56 countries.

Shenhar’s inclusion in the team is the outcome of a process initiated last year by the MFA, which resulted in the inclusion of Israel in the organization due to international recognition of Israeli capabilities in disaster management.

Shenhar left this morning as part of a 5-member team to assist the Zanzibar government in dealing with the crisis resulting from the electricity cutoff to the island of Unguja. Over 700,000 of the island’s residents have been living for the past two weeks with no electricity. As a result, severe damage has been caused to all crucial services: health, education, sanitation, infrastructure, etc.

The team, which was been sent at the request of the local government, will assess the humanitarian ramifications of the power cutoff, and determine a multi-stage strategy for the short, medium, and long-term periods, which will allow the Finance Ministry to cope with the crisis and to ensure continuous operation of all essential services.