Sometimes it‘s difficult to imagine that another natural disaster could ever happen again, leaving massive destruction in its wake like the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami or the earthquake in Haiti. But then with incredible force, typhoon Haiyan struck, creating a catastrophe of almost incomprehensible proportions.
As this issue is on its way to print, the whole world has turned its attention to the Philippines. The magnitude of the devastation is overwhelming, and relief efforts will surely be longterm.
Though the immediate focus is of course on saving lives, before long, individuals affected by the typhoon will require help in recuperating and getting back on their feet, and volunteers will also need support. Protecting children and early-stage violence prevention are already focal points in local communities, as well as on an international level.
Meanwhile in Syria, the conflict rages on, claiming more human casualties with each day, including Red Cross Red Crescent employees and volunteers who have lost their lives in their efforts to help. The conflict has also driven millions from their homes, refugees who have fled to the relative safety of the surrounding territories. This is one of the themes in this magazine.
IASC MHPSS group communicates regularly on the progress of the interventions, and updates can be found on MHPSS.net. International cooperation on guidelines and best practices in catastrophes is helping involved organisations to provide the best possible psychosocial support in both Syria and the Philippines, and proves once again the great value of working together.
The emergencies, conflicts and disasters highlighted in this issue have in common the fact that many people have been separated from family members, and their most pressing need – aside from survival – is to re-establish contact with their loved ones. On the facing page is information about the Restoring Family Links (RFL) online course, and in this issue you can read about RFL in connection with the attack on Westgate Mall, where many people were in dire need of this service.
Restoring links to one’s family after a disaster is a vital component of early intervention, as we have also seen in the Philippines. If you would like to know more and develop your skills in relation to supporting people who have lost contact with their relatives and who are living with the uncertainty of their loved ones’ well-being, it takes just two hours to complete the RFL module online.
Also in this issue is a guidance note for European National Societies (developed in collaboration with Europe Zone Office and available for download on our website) for helping those affected by the economic crisis, which rendered large groups of people unemployed, homeless, or financially ruined. I hope you will find these and the other tools included here both useful and inspirational.
With best regards,