View of part of the Fujairah Corniche and the Hajar Mountains in the Background

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Cyclone Gonu and the Red Crescent: Coordinating the Relief Effort

Leaders of Fujairah’s Red Crescent, Branch Manager, Sohel Rashid Al Qadi and Senior Administrator of Human Resources, Hassan Rashed Mohamed Dhanhani are tired but satisfied as they reflect on their contribution to the relief efforts during last week’s visit of Cyclone Gonu.

Sohel, Hassan and their team were very involved in finding and funding temporary accommodation and food for the hundreds of families who were evacuated at the height of the cyclone. While hotel accommodation was offered in Sharjah, Hassan Dhanhani said that most people opted to stay together and close to home, within the facilities of a local university. All evacuees have now returned to their homes. The UAE government has been sending scores of assessors yesterday and today to those most affected by the cyclone, in order to itemize the damage and determine the amount that each family will receive to reestablish their homes and lives.

Hassan Dhanhani said that the Red Crescent has been engaged this year in a nationwide programme drawing together the Police, Civil Defence and all key players to work out how best to operate together, should a disaster strike the United Arab Emirates. Cyclone Gonu arrived before the programme had finished but it provided a good test of what they had learned thus far.

There were many players involved in the relief effort for Cyclone Gonu, Hassan said, but the biggest challenge was not a lack of people or resources but the effective coordination of all people concerned. “We did well,” Dhanhani said, “but there are still areas for us where we can improve.”

The United Arab Emirates has played an active role in the provision of financial aid to developing countries and has been a major contributor of emergency relief to regions affected by conflicts and natural disasters.

Much of the assistance has been supplied by the Government, but in recent years the UAE Red Crescent has emerged as a major international relief agency. One of the top ten of the world’s Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, it has disbursed over US$460 million in 95 countries in the last year alone.

The major focus of the country’s emergency relief programme in recent years has been on Lebanon but the government relief efforts combined with the Red Crescent have also centred on Palestine (especially Gaza and the West Bank), the rebuilding programme in Indonesia following the tsunami in 2004, the earthquake relief in Pakistan and India in 2005, aid to the Sudan and further assistance following the earthquake in Java last year. The UAE government and relief agencies like the Red Crescent are involved in many aid projects around the world and make a significant financial contribution, along with many UAE commercial institutions.

While most of these concern massive disasters and large developmental projects, organizations like the Red Crescent, through branches such as Fujairah, are involved in the very personal assessment of human needs and responding in practical support and generosity.

The Red Crescent has received good support in this last week but needs more financial gifts to respond to the needs of people from Fujairah through to Dibba.

Check out this link to the Red Crescent if you would like to assist by donating through your bank account, paying by cheque or credit card or asking for one of the Red Crescent volunteers to visit you to receive your cash donation.

Geoff Pound

Image: Sohel Rashid Al Qadi (Fujairah Manager) and Hassan Rashed Mohamed Dhanhani (Senior Administrator) at the Red Crescent office.