Main Navigation

Ten days on from calamity, Red Cross aid operations in full swing across the region

Wednesday January 5, 2005

Australian Red Cross Health delegate David Overlack (QLD) reports from Sri Lanka that psychological support is the most common request in the camps he has visited.

David visited and assessed areas on the Southern Seaboard as part of the International Red Cross FACT Field Assessment and Coordination Team. He reported that the devastation was, as expected, widespread, but that the aid is coming through and people are receiving assistance.
'We were in several camps and the most frequent request was for psychological support. That may come as a surprise to some, but it was clear that people not only suffered as a result of tsunami, they are also very afraid of another tsunami and are very reluctant to go back to any coastal areas. They will need psychological support for a long, long time,' said David from Sri Lanka.
Apart from physical injuries and shock, the trauma of loss of loved ones or, even worse, the anguish of not knowing the fate of their family members, is another exacerbating factor.

Red Cross is trying to assist with this trauma, and five Mobile Tracing Teams have been deployed in the South, North, and East of the country. Part of one of the teams is Australian Red Cross Tracing delegate Hang Vo.
'We are there to provide satellite and mobile phones to families to call relatives overseas, to register unaccompanied minors and separated children and activate tracing for disabled and elderly people,' said Hang.
Sri Lanka Red Cross is assisting around 40,000 people in 66 camps. Together with the International Red Cross they have delivered household kits to some 60,000 people in the North and East. Each kit typically comprises a bucket, three bed sheets, two plastic mats, a cooking set, and soap. Others have received lanterns and clothing.

The funds raised by Australian Red Cross are being used in one of three ways:

  • To fund the deployment of specialist delegates to the region to assist in the international Red Cross response;

  • To support the relief and rehabilitation work of our Red Cross and Red Crescent Partners through the global emergency appeal;

  • To support an Australian Red Cross program of assistance in the affected area

More specifically the Red Cross is working to provide emergency assistance as well as longer-term support for the affected people in a range of areas such as:
- Shelter (tarpaulins, tents, temporary accommodation etc)
- Food and Non-food assistance (food rations, supplementary food, kitchen sets, hygiene kits, clothing etc)
- Water & Sanitation (safe water supplies, sanitation facilities in camps and elsewhere, building water storages, preventing outbreak of water-borne diseases)
- Health (first aid, treatment and recovery, prevention of outbreaks of diseases, recovery of public health care facilities, psychological support).

To donate to Australian Red Cross Asia Quake and Tsunamis Appeal, log onto, call toll free 1800 811 700 or make a donation over the counter at any branch of theCommonwealth, St George Banks, Australian Credit Union in NT & SA, New England Credit Union or Adelaide Bank.

For more information about the Red Cross response go to our special section on the appeal (see link below).