Egypt: Sinai Attack: Emergency Plan of Action Final Report, DREF n° MDREG014

Situation Report
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Description of the disaster

On 24 November 2017, a bomb and gun attack occurred in a mosque in al-Rawda Village (Bir Al Abed locality) in North Sinai. The attack occurred during Friday (Gomaa) prayer when hundreds of people were inside the mosque. The attack resulted in more than 300 deaths, including 27 children and 138 injured, affecting more than 500 families. More than 50 surrounding houses were damaged due to the random shooting around the mosque. Ambulances were exposed to armed attack and two health workers were killed.

The North Sinai is a marginalized and insecure area, since 2011 with ongoing conflict between Muslim insurgents and the Egyptian government. Dozens of people have died since the conflict start, however the mosque attack on 24 November as the most devasting to date. During the DREF operation, Government security forces closed access to North Sinai, which impacted the ability to distribute relief items. Access was severely hampered. ERC finally negotiated access with the government authorities, however it was not possible for ERC to finish work in just one day, and so due to the curfew ERC staff and volunteers had to travel over 50kms to the nearest city to stay overnight.

Summary of response

Overview of Host National Society

Immediately after the attack, ERC activated the operation room at its headquarters in Cairo, as well as the North Sinai and in Ismailiyah branches which are respectively 200 and 150 km distance from Cairo. Emergency Action Teams (EATs) were mobilized from Arish and Ismailiyah branches. Additional teams joined the response from the headquarters in Cairo.

The intervention of ERC has been organized in the following phases:

Immediate emergency response (took place the 24 - 26 November):

  • 100 ERC staff and volunteers were deployed in the immediate emergency response, to different locations.

  • Blood bags and transfusion sets were provided for all blood groups in addition to 200 units of plasma:

  • On the 24 November, 75 blood bags were sent from ERC Blood bank in Cairo and 200 plasma units.

  • By 25 November, due to high volume of public willing to donate blood, ERC sent from Cairo a blood collection car, together with 120 transfusion sets including bags.

  • Medical supplies were provided to the two hospitals in Ismailiyah including two surgical war kits provided by ICRC.

  • Emergency Action Teams (EAT) were deployed from the North Sinai and Ismailiyah branch. The teams helped in the transferring of affected people by ambulances to hospitals, providing first aid in support to the overwhelmed medical crew. Some 40 injured received first aid assistance.

  • A National Disaster Response Team (NDRT) were deployed from Cairo and Ismailiyah branches. They distributed clothes for injured people at the hospital and provide bed sheets and blankets for a complete ward in Arish hospital.

  • The NDRT distributed food and non-food items to affected families, especially blankets, for the families waiting for their injured relatives. A total of 300 hot meals, including bottled water, were provided on the same day as the attack and this support was repeated on the next days for 125 persons.

  • Initially a psychosocial (PSS) team were deployed from Ismailiyah branch and support from specialists from Cairo. This team initially helped to support families during the evacuation of wounded, ensuring smooth passage for the ambulances and then assisted affected families to track the wounded to the appropriate hospitals. They also facilitated contacts between doctors and families. The team provided Psychosocial First Aid for 400 people and PSS for children.

Intermediate emergency response

In response to the need in Al-Rawda village, ERC provided 500 food parcels for the families including basic food items (around 15 Kg each). Each parcel covers one average sized family for 10 days. A second distribution was planned to be undertaken 10 days after the first, however due to security issues, the distributions were postponed till the first half of May 2018. The distributions were undertaken in coordination with Ministry of Social Solidarity and other governmental and non-governmental actors. A 15-member psychosocial support team was deployed in Bir Al Abed to carry out psychosocial activities for 150 children and their families. Toys and playing sets for children were distributed.