The International Federation's Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF) is a source of un-earmarked money created by the Federation in 1985 to ensure that immediate financial support is available for Red Cross and Red Crescent response to emergencies. The DREF is a vital part of the International Federation's disaster response system and increases the ability of national societies to respond to disasters.
Summary: CHF 150,000 (USD 123,729 or EUR 97,634) was allocated from the International Federation's Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF) on 3 December 2008 to support the Colombian Red Cross Society (CRCS) in delivering immediate assistance to some 3,000 beneficiaries (600 families).
Since 29 March 2008, the Nevado del Huila Volcano, located between the departments of Cauca, Huila and Tolima, has been sporadically causing tremors and releasing gas and ashes. Previously, on 18 April 2008, a DREF allocation was provided for the CRCS to assist 2,250 families and strengthen the capacity of the local branches.
On 20 November, the volcano erupted, unleashing mud flows along the Paez river affecting more than 8,000 people. This DREF operation final report reflects the activities accomplished by the Colombian Red Cross Society in the areas of food and non food distribution, water and sanitation, primary health care and psychosocial support which benefited a total of 600 families. Additionally, the infrastructure in the temporary shelters in Belalcazar was improved to provide better living conditions for the evacuated people. It is important to mention that on 21 January 2009, Colombia was affected by heavy rains in the region of Tumaco, placing an additional burden on the Colombian Red Cross Society, which also responded to this emergency.
This operation was expected to be implemented over three months, but it was extended for two additional months (until 27 May 2009) due to difficulties in reaching the beneficiaries and mobilizing the people affected as well as aid as a result of the blocked roads. Right until the end of the operation, communities remained hard to reach because of landslides caused by the pyroclastic flow (a combination of ash, mud, and water) from the volcanic activity and as a result of the lack of bridges.