Earthquake in Iran and Iraq: Red Crescent teams providing rescue and first aid

By IFRC

Red Crescent volunteers in northern Iraq and Iran are providing urgent search and rescue and first aid to victims of the devastating 7.3 magnitude earthquake that shook the region yesterday evening at 21:18 local time. According to Iran Red Crescent at least 328 people have been killed and 3950 injured. In Iraq, the Iraqi Red Crescent report that 9 people have been killed and more than 425 injured.

“The Iranian Red Crescent Society has deployed response teams which include equipment for shelter, first aid, and search and rescue in the aftermath of the earthquake to the affected cities of Qasre-Shirin, Gilane-Garb, Kermanshah, Sare-PuleZahab, Salase-Babajani, Dalahoo, Islamabad- E- Gharb, and Javanrood.” said Ms. Mansoureh Bagheri, Iran Red Crescent Society’s Director for international Operations.

“Immediately after the earthquake, we have deployed our teams to evacuate the injured and provide first aid to the affected communities. Our team are working around the clock in the affected areas”, said Mohamad Khosaii, Spokesperson of Iraq Red Crescent Society.

An Impression that Sparked 20 years of Volunteerism

by Susan Gilbert, American Red Cross of Massachusetts volunteer

One day in the late 1990s, Tangley Lloyd was listening to the radio while on vacation on Cape Cod. A Red Cross volunteer working in disaster relief was being interviewed.  Part-way through the interview, the Red Cross volunteer’s beeper went off and almost before the segment was over, he was on a plane heading to the disaster site. Tangley thought herself, “This is great! This is what I want to do!”

rco_blog_img_lloyd.jpg

Enthusiastic volunteer

After Tangley returned home, she signed up to volunteer. As a licensed therapist and social worker, her mental health background proved an excellent fit for the Red Cross. As a Disaster Mental Health volunteer, Tangley’s mission is to be supportive to clients. She and her team help them “get back up and running,” restoring them to their level of pre-disaster functioning, offering plenty of community resources as needed and available.

Superior service

Tangley’s first assignment was in 1998, helping out in Oklahoma after it was ravaged by their largest-ever tornado. This experience was very special to Tangley because she met Red Cross volunteers from all over the country. Some even came in wheelchairs and crutches, yet everyone had a job to do (e.g., computer work) and were a huge asset to the relief effort.

“I was there for two weeks and loved every minute of it. It opened my world to see the generosity of the American people. I see these massive group efforts at every disaster, big and small. People give above and beyond what they can. It’s amazing.”

Over Labor Day 2016, Tangley went to Baton Rouge as part of an Integrated Condolence Care Team. Many people had moved to Baton Rouge from Katrina after they had lost everything, including loved ones. “I listened to someone for 2 ½ hours who’d lost her grandma. It was hard but we were the best of the best, and I’m proud to be a part of the Red Cross.”

Special meaning

Supporting the Red Cross has special meaning for Tangley. Her father, who she never knew, was killed over Guam in World War II during a special Navy mission in June 1944, and his body was never found. Also, Tangley’s uncle served as a pilot in Korea, who became missing in action in 1952.

Tangley recently attended a Red Cross “Service to the Armed Forces” event: the inauguration of a memorial statue at the Massachusetts National Cemetery in Bourne. This emotional experience made her feel that “things had come full circle” with her family’s sacrifices, adding that, “My life is now moving toward getting more involved with the Red Cross.”

The Department of Defense (DOD) contacts the families of MIA, POW, and KIA soldiers. Tangley also attended a local meeting with her daughter for MIA families. This, too, was emotional for Tangley. “It was the first time I’d really talked about this with those who’d experienced the same thing.”

At the meeting, experts explained how in searching for bodies they look for bones and matching DNA samples. Tangley learned that reconnaissance missions in Guam recover approximately one person per year, and that a rice paddy farmer had seen her father’s plane go down in low tide, with only fuselage showing, so there was no chance for survivors.

“The DOD has done such an incredible service. I never knew there was a vehicle for this. The people are amazing; everyone is very respectful and appreciative. And they’re apolitical, which is fantastic.”

Labor of love

In addition to providing relief to disaster victims, Tangley supports Red Cross staff. Many volunteers become tired, especially if they’ve just come from another disaster in another state.

“I love volunteering with the Red Cross, and plan to be a part of it as long as I can. As long as I can still hear, which is key as a mental health professional, I know I’ll be able to help people. It’s very rewarding, and close to my heart. The Red Cross means a lot to me, and there’s a place for everybody.”

Lost and displaced: Families in Bangladesh look for answers

Lost and displaced: Families in Bangladesh look for answers

In just over two months, more than 600,000 people fled Myanmar. Their arrival in Cox Bazaar district in Bangladesh caused a large-scale humanitarian crisis which continues to escalate, putting pressure on aid agencies and communities already helping hundreds of thousands of people from previous waves of violence in Myanmar.

The people arriving are living in terrible conditions in desperate need of life-saving assistance including clean drinking water, sanitation and hygiene, essential food items and emergency supplies.

An estimated half of the new influx are children, many of them unaccompanied or separated from their families during the dreadful journey.

Read More

Red Cross Helps Connect Puerto Ricans to Loved Ones

Friends wonder what it’s like when my husband, Glen, and I deploy to disaster zones—at times living in what some consider to be hardship conditions. Here’s a little insight:

We fired up our generators in the plaza of a small town in Puerto Rico. When we first arrived the town looked deserted, but people came out of their houses as word spread that the Red Cross was setting up a communication station so people could call, text, and send email to their loved ones. Neighbors plugged their phones into Red Cross charging stations as hundreds waited to call family members for the first time since Hurricane Maria struck. Even though cell service and electricity were down on the island, our equipment enabled crowds of excited people to talk and text family members from the plaza to let them know they were safe.

For anyone without their own working phone, the Red Cross provided phones with prepaid Skype accounts so that no one was left out.

Read More

Rwanda: Helping Burundian Refugees Reconnect with their Families

Rwanda: Helping Burundian Refugees Reconnect with their Families

More than 55,000 Burundian refugees call Mahama camp home. The main camp located in the eastern province of Rwanda accommodates people who fled the political unrest in Burundi, which began in April 2015.

As part of the ICRC's Restoring Family Links program in the Great Lakes region, the Kigali Delegation distributed SIM cards to Burundian refugees in the Mahama camp. The idea is to make it easier for the people to directly reconnect with their families.

Now, they don't need to rely only on the existing ICRC and Red Cross phone call services offered to them in the camp as well as in the transit centers around Rwanda. They can speak to their family members left behind or living abroad, any time convenient to them.

Read More