Mayer / International Federation
the road to recovery
The Iranian city of Bam is on the road to recovery
five months after the devastating earthquake, that
killed tens of thousands of people and destroyed 85 per cent
of all buildings. Traffic and street vendors are the most
evident sign that Bam is returning to a semblance of normality.
In addition, all of those made homeless have moved to prefabricated
housing provided by the government. But fear of another earthquake
With reconstruction well under way, the Red Cross Red Crescent
Movement is playing its part in rebuilding Bam. "The
Iranian Red Crescent, supported by the Movement, is rehabilitating
and reconstructing the health care, education and social welfare
infrastructure. They are also rebuilding IRCS facilities which
were damaged or destroyed in the earthquake," explains
Mohammed Mukhier, the head of the International Federation's
"At the moment, the Red Crescent field hospital is still
the only operational hospital providing emergency and medical
care for the people in Bam."
Babikar / International Federation
new regional resource
"Disaster management could mean the difference
between life and death. I am very happy to be a part
of the national disaster response team," said Red Cross
volunteer Asif Shahab.
The Indian Red Cross is breaking new ground by setting up
the first national disaster response team (NDRT) in south
Asia. The region's geographical features render it perennially
vulnerable to a number of natural calamities, such as cyclones,
droughts, floods, earthquakes, wild fires, landslides and
The idea behind the NDRT is to allow rapid deployment of
a team with varied skills. It would have an operational manager
on the ground working in close cooperation with national headquarters.
Crucially, the people chosen to make up the team would be
available locally, thereby increasing the speed with which
it can be deployed.
"The establishment of the NDRT is meant to shorten the
response time by providing relief assistance with relevant
technical knowledge on the ground immediately after a disaster,
instead of waiting for regional or international aid to arrive,
as happened in the past," said Dr Vimala Ramalingam,
Secretary General of the Indian Red Cross Society.
The NDRT is a rapid response tool. A "crack" team
comprising ten Red Cross staff and volunteers will swing into
action as a disaster strikes. Equipped with a self-contained
mobile disaster response unit, it would be the first to initiate
response on the scene by gathering information, assessing
needs and mobilizing immediate relief by drawing up a plan
The NDRT will also provide regional support to the field
assessment and coordination teams and the regional disaster
response teams, filling gaps in relief as needed.
Previously its approach was more relief-oriented, but the
creation of the national disaster response team is the Indian
Red Cross's latest step towards a more holistic disaster management
Pluess / ICRC
Help for Haiti
The ICRC organized a series of seminars
for medical staff of various hospitals in Haiti. The focus
of the seminars was on war surgery techniques, triage procedures
and the basic provisions of international humanitarian law,
particularly those affording protection to medical personnel,
facilities and patients.
An initial seminar was held on 7 May at Le Justinien Hospital
in Cap-Haitien, the country's second-largest city. It was
attended by 42 doctors, surgeons, nurses and interns. Another
seminar was held on 10 May for 50 medical staff at the University
Hospital of Haiti, the country's largest public hospital,
located in the capital, Port-au-Prince. Dr Hassan Nasreddine,
the ICRC surgeon who organized the seminars, said they provided
an opportunity for exchanging experiences with Haitian colleagues
and sharing ICRC expertise in the field of war surgery, with
a special focus on the treatment of gunshot and stab wounds.
Two similar seminars were held in April at hospitals in Gonaïves
and Port-de-Paix. Further seminars on war surgery and medical
ethics will be held in June by the ICRC together with the
Haitian Ministry of Health.
In addition, the International Federation is supporting the
Haitian Red Cross by funding the rehabilitation of the Cité
Soleil Red Cross branch. Cité Soleil (Sun City) is
the largest slum in the capitalPort-au-Prince, and is home
to an estimated 500,000 people.
The ICRC will provide technical support to finish the construction
work. The building will offer a safe place where members and
volunteers can meet and plan how to address some of their
community's problems. Red Cross bibs have also been ordered.
Restoring human dignity through community action will be
the branch's priority in this long-neglected corner of Port-au-Prince.
It was lunchtime. The school in Ryongchon
was emptying and the children headed homeward. Then came the
explosion. The youngsters were cut down by the blast and flying
debris, and burned terribly by the wall of fire that followed.
Ryongchon, a town of 27,000 people in North Pyongan Province
of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), was devastated
in April when two rail wagons containing explosive material
blew up while being shunted in a siding.
Of the 161 people known to have died in the North Korean
rail explosion, 76 were children. So were more than two-thirds
of the most seriously hurt of the 1,300 injured people. Their
faces were burned and lacerated. Their eye injuries were horrific.
The blast obliterated the station and all around it, damaging
buildings in a four-kilometre radius. Around 40 per cent of
the town was affected, with 1,850 homes destroyed or uninhabitable,
another 6,300 partially damaged, many public buildings shattered
and electricity and water supplies disrupted.
But amid the suffering of this blighted town there was no
greater grief than that of mothers weeping for their children.
The impact of the explosion will be felt for months and,
in some cases, for years to come, explained a representative
of the International Federation.
After the blast, thousands of kitchen sets, blankets, water
containers, tarpaulins, water purification tablets and first-aid
kits were distributed quickly from a Red Cross relief centre
at Sinuiju, five kilometres from the disaster.
Support for the overwhelmed health-care system was another
immediate priority for the Red Cross. Medical supplies, including
antibiotics, basic essential drugs and anaesthetics, were
distributed by the DPRK Red Cross and the World Health Organization.
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