ASTANA – More than 200 volunteers from the Kazakh Red Crescent were deployed in response to recent floods in Almaty, according to a press release from the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.
The disaster, caused by rising temperatures which resulted in some melting of the Kargalinka glacier, sent a torrent of water, earth and debris into the city. The flood damaged bridges, downed power lines and trapped people in their homes. More than 1,000 people were forced to evacuate to safety.
The Kazakh Red Crescent was the first nongovernmental agency to respond, with volunteers offering humanitarian assistance ranging from providing hot meals and first aid to taking clean water on foot to communities cut off from main roads.
Society president Erkebek Argymbayev established disaster response headquarters in Almaty with members of the organisation’s national committee. A second response centre was created in a local school to support volunteers and the disaster response team. With support from local businesses and individuals, volunteers were able to begin the distribution of food, fresh water, tools and other essential items.
During the week-long emergency operation, Red Crescent staff and volunteers collaborated with local authorities on a range of activities, including psychosocial support for evacuees, field kitchens to provide hot food and taking sanitation kits and food aid to remote areas. At the height of the response, the group was delivering more than 10,000 litres of fresh water and 700 food packages each day. An estimated 2,800 vulnerable families received support from the Kazakh Red Crescent, stated the press release.
The branches of the Red Crescent carry out responses annually to various small and medium-scale disasters such as house fires, gas explosions, flooded homes and severe frosts, according to its website. Employees and volunteers distribute essentials among the victims, such as clothes, shoes, hygiene products, bedding, kitchen utensils and water containers, which are purchased at the agency’s expense and through donations from organisations and individuals. In the case of large-scale disasters, the Red Crescent mobilises its own resources for humanitarian assistance, as well as internal and international reserves.
The volunteers of Kazakh Red Crescent are a very active part of a society composed of 17 million volunteers worldwide. The permanent work of training staff and volunteers who may be involved in responding to emergencies is held on a regular basis. Seminars and training sessions for disaster response team preparation are also conducted at regional and national levels.
The Red Cross Society of the Kazakh SSR was established on March 5, 1937, shortly after the formation of the Kazakh Soviet Socialist Republic in 1936. With Kazakhstan’s independence in 1991, the Red Cross Society of the Kazakh SSR was transformed into the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies of the Republic of Kazakhstan.
In March 2002, the organisation was renamed the Red Crescent Society of Kazakhstan and adopted the organisation’s emblem. The Red Crescent Society of Kazakhstan was recognised by the International Committee of the Red Cross and became a member of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies in Nov. 2003.