Category: Emergencies

Whether an emergency is in rural Wales or the Horn of Africa, the Red Cross provides whatever is needed. From emergency food to emotional support, we are there.

Memories of a Red Cross volunteer at Aberfan

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British Red Cross volunteers and others unload supplies from a truck at the time of the Aberfan disaster.

© Media Wales

Episode 3 of the new series of the Crown, which just launched on Netflix, focuses on the disaster in the small Welsh village of Aberfan. In this tragedy, an 800-foot, water-logged coal-tip slipped and fell 500 yards down a mountainside. It engulfed a local school, killing 116 children and 28 adults.

John Cole was one of hundreds of British Red Cross volunteers who helped the local community in Aberfan. Now, his daughter Anna shares his story.

My Mum would say how Dad changed after Aberfan. I recall her saying how he came home after his time there and just sat, staring, dazed and haunted by what he had experienced.

John's Red Cross uniform, now many years old.

John’s Red Cross uniform

Dad was on the scene following the Aberfan disaster in 1966. He was a long standing and proud British Red Cross volunteer, and at just 21, he was one of the youngest to attend. To see the events of that day and the aftermath depicted in The Crown was harrowing and it gave me a sense of what my Dad would have seen and experienced, at such a young age.

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How one volunteer is bringing a little warmth after the Doncaster flood

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A group of emergency services workers pull an inflatable raft carrying a man to safety through a street covered in water in the Doncaster flood in Yorkshire.

Emergency help: Doncaster flood

A week on from the night that brought widespread flooding to parts of Yorkshire and the East Midlands, one volunteer tells us about his work in flood-hit Doncaster.

Looking back at a busy week volunteering in Doncaster with the Red Cross, one moment stands out.

It was the look on the face of a young lad whose birthday it was. He’d come in to a rest centre with his brother and mum and they were all a bit bewildered and upset at having to leave home.

Someone from the council had arranged for a prescription of the boys’ asthma inhalers – in the family’s hurry to leave they had left them at home. The Red Cross went down to the local supermarket and picked the prescription up. But, as we’d got wind it was the little lad’s birthday, we thought it’d be nice to get him a cake while we were there.

When we came back we lit the candles and the whole centre stopped to sing happy birthday. The look of sheer joy his face brightened up a day that he could have otherwise remembered only for what went wrong.

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Why Bosnia urgently needs our help before winter

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In Bosnia, a group of men, who are migrants, asylum seekers and refugees from other countries, stand in a line to enter a Red Cross tent.

When we think of Europe’s refugee crisis, it’s easy to conjure up images of camps in Greece or Northern France. But Bosnia and Herzegovina is grappling with its own migrant crisis that very few people are talking about.

With other countries imposing stricter border controls, Bosnia is now one of the last hopes for refugees and migrants wanting to enter the EU. As a result, more than 23,000 people are thought to have arrived here since the beginning of the year.

Having just spent two weeks in Bosnia’s Una-Sana Canton region, I have seen first-hand the conditions that refugees and migrants living here are facing. Each day I witnessed something more shocking than the last.

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MapSwipe 2.0: How a mobile app can help save lives

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Three people smile as they work at laptop computers at a mapathon sponsored by Missing Maps.

A Missing Maps mapathon, © Mile91/Ben Langdon

In 2015, MapSwipe began as a solution to a complex question: how do we better identify where communities and people are, allowing mapping to be more efficient and effective?

Using a simple mobile app, volunteers can swipe through a series of satellite images, tapping in areas where they find features.

MapSwipe can be used anywhere, at any time, which provides an easy access point for individuals to contribute to the Missing Maps project without being restricted to their laptop.

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I want my pictures to help refugees from Myanmar

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Dil Seher, who fled violence in Myanmar and now lives in a refugee camp in Bangladesh, holds a photograph of her husband and child.

Dil Seher, a widow, holds a picture of her missing husband, © Farzana Hossen/British Red Cross

Tragedy, hope and ordinary days: photographer Farzana Hossen reveals what life is like in the world’s largest refugee camp. It’s now home to 740,000 people who fled Myanmar for Bangladesh two years ago.

I have visited the camp many times. At the beginning of the emergency, what I saw horrified me. People were just lying on the street and dying in front of my eyes.

There were dead bodies with children standing to one side watching, crying. Many had lost their parents, whether through death or when they fled.

I was left feeling helpless, a situation where you are exposed to so much suffering that you feel there are just too many people to help. Of course, I wanted to, and did in the way I could.

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10 things you might not know about the Red Cross

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A child displaced by a tsunami in Indonesia receives a Red Cross blanket.

Photo credit: Hariandi Hafid / British Red Cross

1. A gruesome battle sparked the idea for the Red Cross

On his journey to meet Napoleon III in 1859, the businessman Henry Dunant witnessed a bloody battle in present-day Italy. What he saw horrified him – men were left to die in agony without medical aid.

This sparked his vision for impartial medical volunteers, who helped the wounded no matter what side of the war they were on.

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Periods, hygiene and brave young women volunteers in Bangladesh

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Azida, Nur Kayeda, and Hamida, three volunteers at the Red Cross camp for people who fled their homes after violence in Myanmar.

Azida, Nur Kayeda, and Hamida, hygiene volunteers

For World Menstrual Hygiene Day (Tuesday 28 May 2019), we’re shining a light on three 18-year-olds living in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. Together, they are dedicated to helping women and girls in their community.

Keeping things hygienic in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, is a difficult task.

It’s the biggest refugee camp in the world, and people live in small, cramped conditions. That’s why the British Red Cross has built latrines and wash facilities here to promote best hygiene practices.

But for a woman in Cox’s Bazar, it isn’t as straightforward.

After these latrines were built, we found that some women and girls weren’t always using them.

There are reports of gender-based violence in the camps.

Many women are terrified to travel to wherever their nearest toilet is located. Some worry that their dignity and privacy will be compromised.

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Record-breaking two cyclones hit Mozambique: urgent aid needed after Cyclone Kenneth

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A picture from the air shows flooding and destruction of homes and roads by Cyclone Kenneth in Mozambique

Cyclone Kenneth is one of the strongest storms ever to hit Mozambique

A second huge cyclone – Cyclone Kenneth – has slammed into Mozambique. This comes just six weeks after Cyclone Idai killed hundreds of people and damaged 35,000 homes.

Cyclone Kenneth also caused devastation on the island nation of Comoros and the neighbouring country of Tanzania.

Never, since records began, have two such enormous cyclones struck Mozambique in the same year. It is unusual even for one storm of this size to hit the country.

And a cyclone has never been known to hit Mozambique’s northern province of Cabo Delgado, where Cyclone Kenneth landed.

Yet Cyclone Kenneth was a huge category 4 storm, with winds of 140 miles per hour and 8-metre waves. This is taller than the average two-story house.

“Rains from the storm have already caused flooding of over 2 metres (6.5 feet) in Pemba, the regional capital of Cabo,” said Luke Tredget, British Red Cross disaster management coordinator for southern Africa.

“To put this in perspective, average rainfall in a whole year in the UK is 885 millimetres (33.7 inches).”

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