In addition to responding to local disasters, Egyptian Red Crescent (ERC)responds to international disasters by providing relief supplies and humanitarian assistance. This assistance is determined based on the actual needs of the national society in the affected country.
With the beginning of the Libyan crisis which erupted on February 17, 2011, ERC started the humanitarian operation at the Egyptian-Libyan Border where hundreds of thousands people crossed towards Egypt. Among those were Libyans, Egyptians, Sudanese,Bangladesh and other African nationalities. Thousands were stranded at the borders for weeks being unable to return to their home countries.
ERC immediately established an equipped operation room in Salloum at the Egyptian-Libyan borders and deployed a team of ERC volunteers and staff working 24/7. ERC reinforced the team with highly qualified trained volunteers raising their total number to 25. Capacity building for more volunteers and staff especially from the nearer governorates (Matrouh and Alexandria) was on the medium term agenda of ERC. Two workshops were conducted for volunteers in Matrouh branch on first aid, psychological support, and SPHERE basic minimum needs.
With the large number of Egyptian returnees, estimated by 450'000, ERC teams were also available at Cairo airport and Alexandria port to provide help and support to the returnees. Some of the injured returnees were admitted into ERC hospital in Alexandria.
Over the period of almost seven months, roles and responsibilities of ERC team at Salloum has developed and modified according to the situation. At the early phases, ERC held the responsibility of relief effortsin coordination with the local authorities and armed forces. This included temporary shelter, first aid, psychological support, distributing relief materials; e.ghygiene kits, utensils...etc.
In addition, ERC sent relief items which were transported by air to Jerba - Tunisia, for the Egyptians stranded at the Tunisian Border, upon the request from the MOFA.
With the continuous flow of thousands of people crossing and/or stranded at the border, and the presence of different humanitarian organizations; cooperation and coordination was essential to maintain smooth running of the humanitarian operation.
In cooperation with ICRC, ERC volunteers present at the check points and facilitate communication for restoring family links. ERC volunteers also participate with UNICEF in providing psychological support for stranded families at the "mother and child friendly area" at the border.
Another role added to the ERC team is food distribution for stranded people. An average of 2500 stranded people receives their three meals daily. These meals are provided by different organizations; ICRC, WFP, UNHCR, ERC and Swiss Red Cross. (Currently ICRC is providing breakfast, while UNHCR is providing lunch and dinner).
ERC received in cash donations from different organizations.Withinthe movement; ICRC, IFRC through both DREF and Appeal, National societies (Spanish Red Cross, Qatar Red Crescent, Swiss Red Cross..), UN organizations; UNHCR and WFP.Other organizations such as the Islamic Bank for Development.
ERC plays a key role whether in channeling or in purchasing, packing and transporting the relief materials donated by different donors into Libya in cooperation with the Libyan Red Crescent:
About 100 tons of relief items including medical supplies and equipment, medications, food...etc. were purchased from the local market, packed and sent to Libya by the donations given to ERC by UNHCR which is approximately 2'850'000 L.E.
About 100 tons of medications, blood bank supplies, food...etc. were also purchased, packed and sent to Libya by the donations of the Islamic Development Bank.
Channeling hundreds of trucks donated by different organizations such as Arab League, Kuwait Red Crescent, Qatar Red Crescent, Emirates Red Crescent, Catholic Relief....etc.
Responding to the needs of 200 Libyan families in Matrouh, ERC prepared 500 food parcels to be distributed monthly upon the request of UNHCR.
Partnership and Coordination
Cooperation and coordination was maintained all through, both on the high representation level and on the field level between different key-players:
With governmental stakeholders:
- Government of Egypt
- Armed Forces
- Ministry of Foreign Affairs
- Ministry of Health
- Ministry of Social Solidarity
- Matrouh Governorate
- Among the RC/RC Movement components: with IFRC, ICRC, Arab RC/RC organization (ARCO), National Societies.
- With UN system: UNHCR, WFP, WHO, UNICEF...
- Regional Organizations: Arab League, Islamic Bank for Development....
- Local authorities and local donors
- Coordination with the Libyan side (LRC)
As recognition of the Role that the Egyptian Red Crescent has played during the current events in the MENA region, the Spanish Red Cross awarded the Egyptian Red Crescent society with the Gold Medal in the Official Ceremony, chaired by her Majesty the Queen of Spain held on the 10th of May.
On another hand, as recognition of the role of ERC volunteers, ERC celebrated the world RC/RC day in Salloum in coordination with the ICRC. Acknowledgement certificates were distributed to the volunteers for their great effort and undeniable humanitarian role during the Libyan crisis. Swiss Red Cross representatives attended the ceremony.