Better communications means improved life-saving operations amidst civil unrest in Nicaragua

Since April, civil unrest has rocked Nicaragua.

A Red Cross ambulance in a crowded areaThe Nicaraguan Red Cross is providing life-saving ambulance and pre-hospital care services to the injured through volunteers and staff who have mobilized across the country.

While the response is challenging,  the Nicaraguan Red Cross is making good use of training and technical assistance on communications received through the CERA (Capacity Building for Emergency Response in the Americas) initiative.

The situation:

Since April 2018, the country has been marked by violence surrounding anti-government protests and pro-government counter-protests. According to the Nicaraguan Red Cross, dozens of people have died, hundreds have been injured and the streets are marked by insecurity with roadblocks established throughout the country.

Putting training and technical assistance into action:

The Red Cross and Red Crescent movement is guided by seven fundamental principles. Under these principles, we do not  choose sides, instead we provide assistance to those who are suffering while prioritizing the most urgent needs. Because of these principles, we are able to gain access to those who need help – which is incredibly important in responses like this one.

Red Cross vehicles on a streetWith these principles in mind, the Nicaraguan Red Cross has deployed 600 volunteers and 40 staff from across the country to assist the injured.

The volunteers and staff are working more effectively and safely thanks to the capacity building activities of the CERA Project and radio communications tools they received.

According to Aldry Flores García, Nicaraguan Red Cross’ Operations Director, new portable, branch and ambulance radios allow HQ staff “to understand what is happening in our branches in real time and know the situation that is being experienced by our volunteers in the field.”
CERA has also provided communications training to a group of Nicaraguan Red Cross volunteers that now belong to the National Communication Network. To respond to the civil unrest, these dedicated volunteers have mobilized in their regions to provide the public with important information about the Red Cross’s humanitarian response and where they can get help. Network member Luis Alfonso Martínez Gonzáles says that his work is all about making Red Cross actions visible, “so that people understand that saving lives is about a commitment to humanitarian values and respect for Nicaraguan society.”

“Providing information to the population is about being accountable,” he adds while thanking the Canadian Red Cross and the Government of Canada for “supporting the growth” of communications capacity in Nicaragua.

With support from the Government of Canada, the Canadian Red Cross helps strengthen the capacity of partner National Societies through the CERA initiative. Before CERA, the Canadian Red Cross and Government of Canada supported capacity development for emergency response in Nicaragua through the FRI project (First Responder Initiative).

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