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.
Objective and Goals
The Overall objective:
Strengthen risk reduction concept among local communities and increase the PRCS’ ability to respond to disasters
- To mobilize the society’s resources effectively to increase the PRCS’ intervention
- To develop the capacities of the staff & volunteers at the PRCS in line with PRCS principles
- To increase the resilience of the Palestinian communities in order to enable them to cope with the emergencies as well as to reduce the risks
- To reinforce partnerships with various parties at the national, regional and international levels
- To contribute to the development of a national disaster response coordination body
Activites and Services
1. Capacity Building:
Aims to increase PRCS’ preparedness in the field of disaster management, by training its staff in various fields such as:
Relief aid distribution;
Health in emergencies;
Water and sanitation;
Setting up emergency equipment;
Emergency needs assessment.
Running PRCS operation rooms to follow up on and monitor changes, assess capabilities in the field, and determine the extent of interventions and disaster responses ;
Organize and implement contingency plans in various districts, at the level of PRCS’ branches throughout the West Bank and Gaza;
Constitute nationwide teams of trained and skilled volunteers to respond to disasters.
2. Training exercises/drills:
In order to enhance the capacities of PRCS’ staff and boost capabilities for an organized response to emergencies and disasters, the Unit holds training exercises/drills for PRCS teams, with the active participation of the Civil Defense, the Ministry of Health, the Palestine Police and local municipalities, as well as a large number of service and relief institutions.
3. Risk Reduction
The program aims to enhance local and especially vulnerable communities’ disaster response capacities. It includes activities designed to build disaster preparedness and response capacities as well as programs to limit or mitigate consequences and training sessions for assessing and measuring underprivileged communities’ preparedness to deal with risks.
4. School-based risk reduction:
As part of the risk reduction program aimed at building and developing communities’ capacity to deal with disasters, this sub-program targets students and teachers, developing their capacities to face emergencies and teaching them how to react to prepare for and respond to disasters.
5. Raising social awareness:
The Awareness Program aims to raise Palestinians’ awareness as to potential disasters and how to face and deal with them. It focuses on the neediest and most vulnerable populations through activities designed to teach them how to react in case of an earthquake and how to handle unexploded ordinance and mines. It also raises their awareness as to the effects of explosives, prevention against chemical weapons, and behavior in case of shelling and shootings.
6. Emergency response program:
PRCS endeavors to respond to victims of emergencies caused by the occupation or by natural disasters, using its various financial and human resources to this end. For example, during the 2008-2009 war on Gaza, more than 25,000 families received relief aid while emergency shelters were built for families whose houses had been totally destroyed and emergency medical services, mental and primary health care services were provided. Furthermore, PRCS provided volunteers to fully respond to the consequences of that war. On a different level, it responded to emergencies caused by floods triggered by heavy rain in several locations in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
B: Regional and international
PRCS and endeavors to respond to victim of disaster at regional and international levels as morocco, Indonesia, Kosovo, Libya , Yamane … etc