As violence escalates throughout the Middle East, Red Cross and Red Crescent workers are responding. The Lebanese Red Cross responded to yesterday’s car bomb attack in southern Beirut with 15 ambulances and staff to care for the needs of the wounded. The Egyptian Red Crescent has deployed three first aid teams to assist those injured in the violence this past week with additional teams on standby to respond to needs in multiple cities. They have been actively responding since protest began in July, providing first aid services and coordinating with the Egyptian Ministry of Health. Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC) volunteers continue to work diligently to care for those that are wounded and displaced. To date, 20 SARC have lost their lives providing assistance to those affected by the violence in Syria.
Heavy rainfall since June 19, 2013 has resulted in the worst floods on record in southern Alberta. A state of local emergency has been declared in twenty-seven states throughout the province. Numerous evacuations have occurred in areas affected by flooding including 90,000 people evacuated in Calgary, High River, Medicine Hat and Drumheller. Flooding has caused major transportation and telecommunication infrastructure damage, power outages and water contamination. Additional flood and evacuation alerts have been issued as flood waters move east.
The Canadian Red Cross has convened coordination teams on the ground in Alberta and at their headquarters in Ottawa. To date the Canadian Red Cross has deployed 81 staff and volunteers to support the operation. The Canadian Red Cross is supporting ten shelters in the area with personnel and supplies. It is providing registration services in evacuation centers and has mobilized supplies including cots, hygiene kits, clean-up kits and blankets.
The American Red Cross has deployed nine disaster response specialists. Of these nine, six relief specialists were deployed to Calgary to support the distribution of relief supplies and three operations and coordination specialists were deployed to the Canadian Red Cross headquarters in Ottawa to support the team managing the response operation.
The American Red Cross and Canadian Red Cross have a long history of mutual disaster response support and coordination. The American Red Cross has a roster of disaster response specialists on standby, available to deploy in support of the Canadian Red Cross as needed.
The American Red Cross is also supporting the Canadian Red Cross in facilitating offers from US corporate donors to contribute to the response operation.
On May 16, 2013 Cyclone Mahsen made landfall in southern Bangladesh and Myanmar bringing strong winds and flooding that affected 1.5 million people. 26,000 houses were destroyed, 124,000 were damaged and over one million people were evacuated to cyclone shelters. The Bangladesh Red Crescent mobilized over 50,000 volunteers from the Cyclone Preparedness Program, which is supported by the American Red Cross on an ongoing basis, to assist in evacuations and early warning before the storm made landfall.
After the storm, the Bangladesh Red Crescent conducted search and rescue operations and distributed food and water. It has also provided first aid and relief supplies, such as tarps and jerry cans, and distributed cash grants to those affected by the storm. The American Red Cross has committed $100,000 for cash grants which will allow people to purchase food, essential household items and materials to repair their homes.
By Raefah Makki, IFRC
On February 7, 2013 the Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC) successfully sent a convoy of relief supplies to the towns of Aleppo and Menbej. The assistance was in response to the growing needs in northern Syria. Eleven trucks containing support items for around 20,000 people reached Aleppo on February 8 and Menbej the following day.
The convoy carried 22,000 essential relief items (food parcels, hygiene kits, tarpaulins, jerry cans, and household parcels). Most of the items were provided with support of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), while the Danish Red Cross provided quilts.
“We definitely attracted attention,” Rami, a SARC staff escorting the convoy, said. “People were excited, but not surprised. In Manbej, the organization branch has been playing a vital role during the conflict; managing local bakeries and distributing relief items.”
Since the beginning of February, SARC and the IFRC, has distributed essential non-food items, including 49,740 blankets, 17,100 tarpaulins, and 9,550 hygiene kits in 9 of Syria’s 14 governorates. SARC has also distributed 15,000 quilts with the support of the Danish Red Cross during the same time frame.
Rami said there were many challenges on the road: “We faced problems but we overcame them. I hope we can do another convoy very soon again. People really need help.”
At least 3,000 volunteers are actively involved in aid operations for SARC, and approximately 10,000 volunteers have been trained to provide support in disaster response, first aid, restoring family links, relief distribution and other priority activities.
To date the American Red Cross has contributed $435,000 to the relief efforts in Syria and $200,000 to support response operations in neighboring countries. This funding has helped provide food, shelter and relief supplies.
Wednesday, January 23, 2013 – The American Red Cross is contributing $50,000 to help those affected by food insecurity caused by drought and below-normal rainfall in Zimbabwe.
The disaster has impacted approximately 1.6 million people primarily in the southern regions of the country. Droughts over the past two years, along with poor agricultural practices and limited access to supplies, have contributed to a smaller harvest and worsening conditions. Below-normal rainfall is predicted to continue in the south for the upcoming season as well. Assessments have indicated an immediate need for food, agriculture support and clean water.
The Zimbabwe Red Cross is coordinating with the government and other international organizations to respond to the food and water shortage. With the support of partners from the global Red Cross network, the Zimbabwe Red Cross hopes to reach 10,000 people with food, agriculture support, and water and sanitation activities. It is also developing plans aimed at reducing risk during future disasters.
The American Red Cross contribution will go to support water and sanitation activities in the affected regions.
For more information on the disaster, visit http://www.redcrosszim.org.zw/.
American Samoa – Evan is located 57 miles of Pago Pago and has tracked northeastward at 5 mph over the past six hours. Maximum sustained winds are 90 mph with gusts to 115 mph. Satellite imagery indicates that Evan has slowed and its motion appears to be quasi-stationary. Evan is forecast to be close to American Samoa on Thursday.
The Area Director communicated with government agencies and will coordinate with the San Diego as well as Hawaii chapters to identify human and material support in anticipation of Evan.