Preparing Children for Emergency Response

Preparing Children for Emergency Response
Preparing Children for Emergency Response

Children should be trained in self-rescue in emergency situations by improving their self-confidence, said Masoud Habibi, head of the Youth Organization of the Iranian Red Crescent Society (IRCS).

Addressing the opening session of a five-day (October 30-November 3) training workshop on Child Protection in Emergencies organized jointly by IRCS and UNICEF in Tehran, he said the Youth Organization is currently active in 3,500 kindergartens and pre-schools by training 5-7-year-olds on basics of rescue and help in emergencies through the medium of songs, theater and paintings.

“We are also training 400,000 high school students each year on eight major skills of rescue and relief in emergencies,” he added.

Deputy for Students and Youth affairs Amir Lalehgaani, pointing to IRCS  long-standing support and cooperation with UNICEF said, “The exchange of knowledge and expertise among different organizations and stakeholders will help minimize physical and psychological harm among children in the aftermath of crises.”

Participants of the workshop included provincial deputies of the Youth Organization and experts from the ministries of health, education, interior, the State Welfare Organization and the Imam Khomeini Relief Committee, reported.

UNICEF Iran deputy representative, Christine Weigand in her remarks at the opening session referred to the ‘Core Commitments for Children in Humanitarian Action,’ a series of immediate and longer-term interventions to provide basic support and protection to children, as the main guidelines of UNICEF work in emergencies.

 Most Vulnerable Groups

“Children are at the heart of emergency preparedness and response as they are among the most vulnerable groups facing high risks of disease, malnutrition and violence.”

She also acknowledged Iran’s achievements in protecting children in emergencies.

“Iran’s capacity in many areas including psychosocial support, family reunification of separated children and establishment of child-friendly spaces during emergencies has been strengthened over the past years.”

Joanna Wedge, an international expert in training for ‘Child Protection in Emergencies and Sub-clusters’, conducted the workshop, with the assistance of four Iranian facilitators and experts on child protection in emergencies.

The key topics in the workshop included child protection minimum standards in emergency, development and strengthening of strategies, physical and psychosocial protection and community-based strategies for child protection.

The workshop was part of the joint 2015-16 UNICEF-IRCS work plan and second in a series, the first of which was held in Kish Island in December 2015. The workshops are expected to pave the way for further cooperation between IRCS, UNICEF, and other key players in crisis management to strengthen national coordination on ‘Child Protection in Emergency’ preparedness and response.

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