New Delhi. 17 December 2020. The 5th meeting of the Indian Ocean Naval Symposium (IONS) Working Group on Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR), being coordinated by Indian Navy being the Chair of the IONS Working Group on HADR, is being held today and is being attended by Australia, Bangladesh, France, Indonesia, Iran, Kenya, Maldives, Oman and Thailand besides India.
The IONS is a voluntary and inclusive initiative that brings together navies of Indian Ocean Region littoral states to increase maritime co-operation and enhance regional security. A co-operative forum for discussion on regional maritime issues, it also serves to develop an effective response mechanism against natural disasters. Instituted in 2008, the IONS initiative has grown significantly and presently enjoys wide acceptance across the Indian Ocean Region.
In the past few years, three IONS Working Groups (IWG) have been progressing work in the fields of Humanitarian Assistance & Disaster Relief (HADR), Maritime Security & Information Sharing and Inter-operability.
Owing to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the 5th meeting of IWG on HADR has been scheduled through video conference. The event would be inaugurated by Vice Admiral Dinesh K Tripathi, Director General Naval Operations, Indian Navy. During the meeting, the participants would be sharing their experiences including lessons learnt during conduct of HADR operations undertaken in the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Indian Ocean Naval Symposium, commonly known as IONS, is a forum to increase maritime cooperation among the littoral states of the Indian Ocean Region. The forum helps to preserve peaceful relations between nations, and thus is critical to building an effective maritime security architecture in the Indian Ocean Region and is also fundamental to our collective prosperity.
The inaugural IONS Seminar was held by the Indian Navy in 2008. Subsequent seminars and meetings of the ‘Conclave of Chiefs’ have been held at the commencement of each two year IONS Chairmanship: United Arab Emirates in 2010, South Africa in 2012, Australia in 2014, Bangladesh in 2016 and Iran in 2018. In 2020 the IONS Chairmanship rotates to France and in 2022 to Thailand.
IONS includes 24 nations that permanently hold territory that abuts or lies within the Indian Ocean, and 8 observer nations:
South Asian Littorals: Bangladesh, India, Maldives, Pakistan, Seychelles, Sri Lanka and United Kingdom (British Indian Ocean Territory)
West Asian Littorals: Iran, Oman, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates
East African Littorals: France (Reunion), Kenya, Mauritius, Mozambique, South Africa, and Tanzania.
South East Asian and Australian Littorals: Australia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand and Timor-Leste.
China, Germany, Italy, Japan, Madagascar, the Netherlands, Russia and Spain.