23 September 2013
The British Red Cross has sent a team of two volunteers to support Britons affected by the attack on the Westgate shopping centre in Nairobi, Kenya.
The volunteers flew out yesterday morning accompanying the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) rapid deployment team.
Joining UK Foreign Office staff in the Kenyan capital, the pair will offer psychosocial support to Britons caught up in the attack.
Simon Lewis, head of UK emergency planning and response at the British Red Cross, said: “Our psychosocial volunteers are trained to provide practical and emotional support to people caught up in emergency situations.
“The team will be there to give help and advice to people affected by the attack, and to offer them emotional support too.”
First to respond
Staff and volunteers from the Kenya Red Cross Society were among the first to respond to the emergency following an attack by an armed group at the mall on Saturday.
Within an hour, the Red Cross had deployed 12 advanced life support ambulances to the scene, supported by a team of paramedics.
The response time was improved as a Red Cross ambulance had been on standby at the mall.
More than 1,000 people were safely evacuated from the shopping centre during the attack, which has, to date, left 67 people dead, including six Britons.
More than 175 people were injured and 59 people are missing.
Teams of blood transfusion units are collecting donations across Kenya and the call for donations saw nearly 3,000 units of blood collected on the first day.
“The feeling of Kenyans coming out to support other Kenyans is phenomenal. People from all walks of life, as well as corporate and humanitarian organizations, have turned up to offer services and material support,” said Dr Abbas Gullet, secretary general of the Kenya Red Cross Society.
“People have also been incredibly generous and funds raised will go towards supporting survivors and their families beyond the emergency period,” he added.
The Kenya Red Cross Society worked closely with other institutions to evacuate casualties to nearby hospitals, while a psychosocial support team is also on-site to provide assistance to friends and families of the victims.
Red Cross volunteers are also attempting to reunite families and are encouraging people to fill out a missing persons report, using an online form.
The British Red Cross has previously deployed psychosocial support volunteers to help Britons caught up in the fighting in Libya, events in Egypt in 2011, Haiti’s earthquake, flooding in Madeira, the transport chaos following the volcanic ash cloud in 2010 and the 2008 terror attacks in Mumbai.