By Astrid Arnslett in Norway
While the search is still ongoing for those missing from the shootings on Utøya, Volunteers from the Norwegian Red Cross are also supporting relatives and youth across the country.
“The youths and their relatives, friends and everyone around them have been through an experience in the last few days that is impossible for the rest of us to comprehend,” states the President of the Norwegian Red Cross, Sven Mollekleiv.
“Our volunteers are there for them now, and they will be there for them in the coming weeks and months in their local communities. If they need a place to gather, a shoulder to cry on, we will be there.”.
The search for the people still missing off the island of Utøya is still going on. Several hundred volunteers from the Red Cross have been in action, and more than 40 boats involved over the last three days.
Jahn Petter Berentsen, the leader of the Red Cross search and rescue team has himself seen the enormous task facing the volunteers. “We are searching on the shore and in the whole of the Tyrifjord. Volunteers and boats have been mobilized from all over southern Norway,” he says. “We have a lot of volunteers and we will continue the search as long as necessary. The boats are out from early morning until late at night.”
While the biggest focus in on the island where over 80 people were killed,
The police are still searching the government offices in Oslo, where they fear there may still be people in the rubble of the explosion. Seven people have been confirmed dead there.
Support for relatives
The survivors from the Labour Part youth camp were evacuated to a nearby hotel, Sundvollen, where many of their relatives joined them in the hours and days after the shooting. Red Cross volunteers have been present there to offer their support and someone to talk to, alongside professional psychologists specializing in crisis response. Additionally, holidaymakers nearby have been offered counseling. They were among the first on the horrific scene last Friday, when many of them took their boats out to rescue youngsters who were swimming away from the man shooting at them.
The Red Cross is in dialog with local councils, the Labour Party and its youth team, and other volunteer services to ensure that the everyone affected will have all the support they need.
Sven Mollekleiv said: “It is important to remember that when the identity of the deceased and the missing become known, whole communities will be affected. Not just the closest family, but school friends and work colleagues will probably feel the need to work through a grievance process. The Red Cross will contribute to this process as much as we can.”
When the survivors of the Labour Party’s youth camp arrived hom, there were volunteers from the Red Cross along with professional medical services receiving them.