©InfoSyria is vulnerable to a range of natural disasters, including earthquakes, drought and flooding. Collapsing buildings and road traffic accidents are also common risks.
In addition, conflicts in the region pose significant challenges. The Syrian Arab Red Crescent has been at the frontline of the humanitarian response in Syria since fighting erupted in 2011.
Modernising disaster management
In recent years there have been large influxes of refugees from Iraq and Lebanon. The Lebanese crisis, in summer 2006, saw the organisation dealing with vast numbers of refugees, managing camps and distributing relief items.
This was a new level of challenge and highlighted the need for the Syrian Arab Red Crescent to develop its disaster management structure. This includes preparing better for disasters and developing the skills of staff and volunteers in areas such as first aid, health in emergencies, water and sanitation, camp management and logistics.
The British Red Cross and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies have been supporting the extensive modernisation of the Syrian Arab Red Crescent’s disaster management operations since 2004.
A national disaster response plan has been developed to help the Red Crescent co-ordinate the response during times of disaster with the Syrian government and other key partners.
It helps identify roles and responsibilities in co-ordinating relief and establishing plans of action for different major risk scenarios, such as earthquake, floods and conflict.
©InfoVolunteers are the strength of any national Red Cross or Red Crescent and in Syria there are over 3,000 volunteers, of whom almost one third are women.
The majority of volunteers are young so the programmes are designed specifically to engage them, focusing on first aid and safe driving for those in their teens and 20s.
Working closely with communities is key to the success of the programme, which has also increased the ability of staff and volunteers to prepare for and respond to disasters through training in specialist areas, such as assessing damage and purchasing and distributing emergency relief items.
Prepared to respond
Dedicated disaster management units with trained staff and volunteers, and specialised equipment have been established throughout the country with volunteers trained in:
- first aid
- water and sanitation
- preparing for disasters
- damage and need vulnerability assessments
- health in emergencies, including food and nutrition
- emergency relief, including camp management, registration and distribution.
These volunteers are continuing to put their lives on the line as they respond to the current conflict and humanitarian crisis.
More about preparing for disasters
Last updated July 2012