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Red Cross welcomes families fleeing Middle East

Tuesday July 25, 2006

Red Cross teams from New South Wales and West Australia are working alongside government agencies at airports to comfort Australian nationals returning from the Middle East.

Over 500 people were met on Sunday in both Sydney and Perth, with Red Cross volunteers providing care and comfort, water, blankets and information on services available to them. Kids were also given a 'Trauma Teddy' - a soft toy that so often helps take the focus off of the drama surrounding them.

Red Cross Community Service Manager Jason Collins has been coordinating the volunteer effort at Sydney International Airport since 7am on Sunday morning when the first plane load of people arrived.

'Most people have been travelling for 5 days,' said Jason. 'All they want to do is get home, see their families and get some sleep - they are exhausted.'

'If we can offer them some comfort and some support whether they need it today, tomorrow or in a week's time, then we have made a difference to the lives of these very vulnerable people.'

Red Cross is distributing a booklet entitled 'Coping with a Major Personal Crisis' in order to address some of the anxieties that emerge during events like these. Around 1,000 arrivals are expected today and people will continue to return over coming days.

Assistance in locating non-Australian relatives in Lebanon is also available through the global Red Cross tracing service.

Donations can be made to the Middle East Appeal 2006 to support the activities of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in the affected countries.