Maldives: Fire - Emergency Plan of Action (EPoA) DREF Operation n° MDRMV003 EPoA update n° 1



Description of the disaster

On 20 September 2019, around 19:30 local time, a fire broke out in a residential area of the Maldives capital, Male’ city, which displaced more than 300 people. According to the Maldives National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), over 700 people (450 males and 336 females) were affected, including over 100 migrant workers. Varying degrees of damage were sustained to 24 surrounding buildings, of which 8 were declared uninhabitable and has since been demolished.
During the emergency, several evacuations were made and one casualty declared after a 46-year-old woman was found after reported to be trapped. The Maldivian Red Crescent (MRC) worked with other first responders on the scene including Maldives National Defense Force (MNDF), MNDF Fire and Rescue Services (MNDF FRS) and Maldives Police Service (MPS). MRC assisted with guiding people to safety following evacuations, provided first aid to affected and transported the more seriously injured to the hospitals.

Summary of current response

Overview of Maldivian Red Crescent

Since MRC’s inception, first aid has been an essential service for which the organization is recognized, while psychosocial support (PSS) has steadily grown to become another service that is identified with MRC, given MRC’s increasingly important role in facilitating PSS interventions during emergency response when required. In 2016, MRC’s Malé branch established a PSS “centre” with the aim to acquire knowledge, capacity and develop resources to provide sustainable PSS to the greater Malé region. This centre functions by establishing standards and guidelines to provide PSS, design and deliver programmes following the established guidelines and develop relevant partnerships with stakeholders to be better able to deliver psychosocial support services to a wider group of people. These are done with the support of PSS facilitators, counsellors and health professionals as well as volunteers who have been trained in psychological first aid. They have been actively involved in providing PSS support to those affected by recent disaster events and emergencies.
The extensive experience mentioned above, and the National Emergency Operations Plan gives MRC the lead in coordinating PSS functions in emergencies. As such, MRC was requested by the government to take a lead role on PSS services for this emergency at a national level. MRC deployed volunteers to the scene of the relief centre set up in Kalaafaanu school and was represented in the national level emergency operations centre.
The relief centre set up in Kalaafaanu school hall facilitated registration of displaced people, where MRC took the lead with NDMA in providing first aid, engaged relief aid distribution, registration of internally displaced persons (IDPs) and identification of further PSS. Temporary accommodations were arranged for 302 people from 53 families while several people moved in with their extended families. Accommodation for displaced migrants were arranged by the government or by their employers.
MRC responded to the immediate needs of the emergency with the relevant authorities by supporting safe transport to temporary shelters once people were evacuated from the fire site, providing first aid for 34 affected people, psychosocial support for 145 affected people and shelter management since MRC is legally mandated to provide humanitarian services, especially in emergencies. MRC also supported by distributing relief items such as clothes, toiletries and essential items to over 500 affected people in NMDA’s relief collection centre. Thereafter, a psychosocial support helpline was set up and run by MRC volunteers to help support people affected by the fire.
Two months post-fire, MRC Male’ Branch is still continuing engagement through the established emergency response teams and through the set-up of a PSS operation team specifically for this operation, supported by staff as necessary.
Key means of engagement include, operating a telephone hotline, which started as a 24-hour service for the first week following the fire and now moved on to a more stable structured plan of targeted PSS interventions, with the support of this DREF.

Overview of Red Cross Red Crescent Movement in country

MRC in its day-to-day programmes, services and other areas of work, is continually supported and guided by IFRC and ICRC. There is currently no IFRC presence in-country. However, the MRC is closely guided by the IFRC Country Cluster Support Team (CCST) in New Delhi, ICRC Regional Delegation in New Delhi and the IFRC Asia Pacific Regional Office (APRO) in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Overview of non-Red Cross Red Crescent actors in country

MRC is working together with the NDMA, MNDF, MNDF FRS, and MPS. NDMA is the lead coordination authority for disasters and emergencies. MNDF together with the Fire and Rescue Services is the lead in providing first responders along with MPS and MRC. Some other organizations including the Maldives Cadet Corps, Girl Guides Association and Scouts Association has operated as secondary support groups under the lead of the above.