In line with its philosophy and leading role aimed at providing practical, logistical and material assistance and relief to those in need, whether victims of man-made violence (wars) and military political conflicts or of natural disasters such as earthquakes, volcanoes, fires and floods, PRCS created an independent unit to manage both natural and man-made disasters. As such, the Disaster Management Unit (DMU) was created in 2000 following discussions at the Society’s Eighth General Assembly in Gaza. In April 2001, during Al Aqsa Intifada, the Unit endorsed plans to implement the recommendations of the ‘Vulnerabilities and Capacity Assessment’ published in August 2000, thus focusing on key PRCS activities during major disasters and rethinking and clarifying the role played by various PRCS departments and units.
The great role played by PRCS in this field was highlighted during recent disasters such as Al Aqsa Intifada and the war on Gaza, as well as during interventions to face natural disasters. PRCS also took part in international relief missions including in Kosovo, Yemen, Algeria, Morocco, India and Indonesia.
The Society’s Disaster Management Services operate daily to respond to the basic needs of conflict victims and affected groups (families under curfew, communities isolated by the blockade and the Wall, refugees, children and adults). Services range from the provision of blankets, tents, kitchen utensils and hygiene kits to the operation of mobile health units and the distribution of medicine.
Disaster Management Services focus on engaging and preparing the local community as well as on building the readiness of response teams. Volunteers receive training in a variety of specializations including emergency services, rapid damage assessment, camp and shelter management, emergency health services and logistical support. This is ensured through Emergency Response Teams (in the fields of health, shelter, water, field hospitals and sanitation) as well as through raising public awareness about disasters through leaflets and T.V. ads for example.
In cooperation with PRCS Departments, the DMU deploys mobile emergency teams and field hospitals to isolated and affected towns and villages where PRCS teams provide medicine, food and water to conflict victims as well as to those affected by natural disasters. Moreover, the DMU provides guidance to the PRCS National Emergency Management Center at PRCS headquarters in Al Bireh. It also follows-up on emergency relief and medical treatment needs nationwide and responds to needs according to their priority in cooperation with Operation Rooms at PRCS branches.
The DMU aims at organizing cooperation with partners to ensure work continuity, enhance the quality of services and training, and maintain links between local and international partners. As such, PRCS constitutes part of a network of partners alongside its membership of the International Movement of the Red Cross/Crescent. It is also a member of the Higher Committee for Civil Defense in Palestine, the MENA National Society Disaster Management Network (RCRC Movement), and the World Risk Reduction Program.