The Global Surge Team

Responding to humanitarian crises across the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement.

The British Red Cross' Global Surge Team is a group of experienced, skilled, and highly-trained professionals. They are ready to be deployed to a humanitarian crisis anywhere in the world at short notice.

Supporting the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement

Our Global Surge team responds where there is urgent need of their expertise, supporting any one of the 192 national Red Cross or Red Crescent societies when needed.

This might be in response to a rapid onset disaster such as an earthquake or hurricane, but could also be in support of longer term programmes and operations.

The team provides support throughout the whole 'disaster management cycle', from mitigation and preparedness to response and recovery.

Who works in the Global Surge Team?

The team has grown from a small team of three people in 2012 to a team of 20 people, mostly deployable experts in highly specialist roles.

Between them, the team has responded to some of the world's most devastating humanitarian crises.

What does the Global Surge Team do?

The team supports our Movement in the following areas: project management, food security and livelihoods, logistics, cash assistance, community engagement and accountability, and information management.

Each member of the team can be deployed for up to three months at a time, depending on the need. In 2022, members of the Global Surge Team deployed 37 times.

The Global Surge Team is always supportive, finding solutions  when we really need them.
British Red Cross South and East Africa regional team.

Where is the team deployed?

Anywhere they are needed across the Red Cross and Red Crescent network. The team were deploys on site and remotely across numerous countries in support of British Red Cross and International Federation of the Red Cross operations.

These assignments included:

  • information management support in Kenya
  • operations management in Türkiye
  • cash assistance support in Ukraine
  • food security and livelihoods work in Somalia
  • logistics deployment to Pakistan
  • community engagement and accountability support in Nigeria.
A map showing the countries where the British Red Cross global surge team worked in 2022-2023: UK, Switzerland, Hungary, Ukraine, Romania, Turkey, Syria, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Philippines, Kenya, Somalia, Sierra Leone, Nigeria, Namibia, South Africa,  Madagascar, Malawi

Case studies

IFRC humanitarian members walking in container city following Turkey earthquake.

Türkiye earthquake 2023

Three Global Surge Team members deployed.

On 6 February 2023, a 7.8 magnitude earthquake at a depth of 11 miles devastated southern and central Türkiye and northern and western Syria, causing significant damage affecting millions of people and killing over 50,000.

The Turkish Red Crescent Society sent out an urgent call for support to the Movement response, and the IFRC responded with support from, among others, the British Red Cross Global Surge Team. The team is contributing to the IFRC response in Türkiye with Logistics and Programme Management capacity.

Kenny Hamilton, a programme management expert, was among those who reached the area in the first rotation of aid workers, in the capacity of Deputy Head of Emergency Operations. His role is to work with the Turkish Red Crescent teams, local authorities and other aid organisations to mobilise resources, arrange programme funding, organise personnel and coordinate tasks to set up the response.

The scale of the response is huge and includes setting up accommodation sites outside major urban areas using tents and setting up mobile clinics. Kenny and his team are looking at cash programming where people get gift cards to use to buy themselves basic items that got lost in the disaster.

Member of Syrian Arab Red Crescent organising food for earthquake survivors.
Red Crescent member stands in warehouse which dispatches food, relief items and water to the communities affected by the earthquake.

Kenny says:

"At the beginning we are looking at shelter, food, water; but we now need to look also at the psychological support that's needed for the population. People are clearly traumatized by what happened [...], especially when aftershocks or a further earthquake happens, the impact psychologically on people is massive."

Using the strength of the network

Throughout his two month mission, Kenny worked with fellow Global Surge Team members Julia Brothwell and Simon Owen who were in charge of Membership Coordination and Logistics respectively.

Julia, Membership Coordinator, is in charge of streamlining the work of the Red Cross Movement in the different parts of the response to this large-scale disaster. Her role is to ensure that the Movement resources are used in the most effective and efficient way, while aligned with the regulatory framework, and the principles and the policies of the Movement, i.e. that the organisation responds in the same way in different areas to as many people as possible.

It was beneficial to have Kenny, Julia and Simon from the Global Surge Team work together on this operation as their close ties as colleagues supported efficient communication and skill sharing, allowing them to work more effectively with other parts of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, and with the communities on the ground.

Turkish Red Crescent providing meals to people impacted by the two earthquakes in southeast Türkiye.