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National level training on “Restoring Family Links” at IRCS National Headquarters

13th October, International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction, was the perfect day for the Indian Red Cross Society to start the training on Restoring family links (RFL). Participants from nearly 20 most disaster prone states attended this training for RFL focal persons and workshop for specialists. The training had been organised with help from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and was the first training of its kind in India. The Inaugural session was attended by Dr S P Agarwal, Secretary General, IRCS; Ms Mary Werntz, Head of Delegation- India, ICRC and many other officials of IRCS & ICRC along with the focal persons and specialists from the various state branches.

FNS or Family News Service is one of the main activities that the Red Cross Movement undertakes in all countries of its presence. Losing touch with the near and dear ones is a fallout of disasters and conflicts. The Red Cross aids people to re-establish links with their families.

While addressing the attendees, Dr S P Agarwal said that in the recent disaster of Hud Hud which struck Andhra Pradesh and Odisha, preparation and evacuation saved more than 5 lakh lives. He said that mitigation is the only way of reducing the consequences of disasters and lives have been saved only due to sustained Disaster Risk Reduction Trainings. He stressed that one of the core functions of all humanitarians is to make sure that news of well-being reaches near and dear ones of the victims and for this purpose all advancements in technology should be optimally utilized like HAM radios & satellite phones. He exhorted all participants to spread the message of volunteerism to at least 10 people so that the number of volunteers swells.

Speaking at the occasion Ms Mary Werntz, ICRC Head of Delegation, India said that in the wake of frequency of occurrence of disasters in the country, it has become imperative to hold such trainings where volunteers and workers can be sensitized and trained to provide support in terms of FNS. She said that there is no other humanitarian organization of this kind in the world that is carrying out this service of RFL which is the core function of the ICRC.

While presenting Dr Agarwal with a copy of a historic stamp issued in 1963 by the Indian Postal department to mark the centenary of the Red Cross Movement, Ms Mary Werntz said that Restoring Family Links is the clearest example of Universality, one of the guiding principles of the Red Cross movement.

The workshop ended on the 17th of October, 2014. The training had components on Tracing Requests, Tracing for migrants, Psychosocial support, dead body management, RFL Response during disasters, registration of vulnerable individuals, family reunification etc. The FNS focal persons and specialists were presented with a certificate of participation by the Secretary General

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