Tunisian Red Crescent Society dispatches teams to aid wounded, retrieve bodies as deadly attack shakes Sousse

Published: 2 July 2015 13:10 CET

By Soraya Dali-Balta, IFRC

On Friday June 26, a peaceful beach in Tunisia’s city of Sousse became the scene of a horrific armed attack which left scores dead and injured, and shook the stability of this Mediterranean country.

As soon as the terrible news broke, the Hammam Sousse branch of the Tunisian Red Crescent Society dispatched a team of 20 volunteers from its Disaster Response Unit to the scene, who immediately got involved in handling the decent burial of victims, transporting the wounded to hospitals, and in providing First Aid services and psycho-social support.

Sousse branch volunteer Hamdi Ben Nasr was among the first to arrive at the scene of the incident: “There were scores of dead bodies and injured people all around, in addition to security and civil protection agents, as well as press correspondents.”

“We immediately got involved in carrying the dead and looking after the survivors, while doing our best to comfort those who had witnessed the violence,” Hamdi said, adding that different National Disaster Response Unit teams were deployed throughout the day to help in the retrieval of bodies and to provide different types of assistance.

The Tunisian National Society also donated 100 body bags to the Ministry of Health, to support its mission of retrieving the dead and evacuating the bodies.

The intervention of the Red Crescent continued in the days following the violent event, as its teams visited the wounded at Sousse’s hospitals and distributed hygiene items to two medical facilities. The distributed hygiene and sanitary packages included toothpastes, toothbrushes, toilet papers, combs, soap bars, shampoos, and razors. Moreover, the Tunisian Red Crescent Society was keen on ensuring that the injured, the majority of whom were European tourists of different nationalities, could communicate with their relatives to soothe their fears and concerns by providing free international mobile phone services

Commenting on the attack and on the response of the volunteers, Secretary General of the Tunisian Red Crescent Society Dr Taher Cheniti said: “This tragedy left Tunisian people and the families of the victims in a state of shock.”

“Red Crescent volunteers responded immediately and they have done a brilliant job in assisting people. The Tunisian National Society remains committed to serve humanity.”

Dr Cheniti also praised the support of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and the International Committee of the Red Cross, as well as the concern and assistance of many National Societies who offered to help the Tunisian Red Crescent Society in its response.

Tunisia’s National Society has established itself as a leading humanitarian organization in the country and has long been involved in relieving refugees who stormed its borders to escape the violence in Libya, and in rescuing migrants who risked their lives to cross the Mediterranean to Europe. And when violence hit home, the Tunisian Red Crescent was ready and fully mobilised to provide urgently needed services to locals and tourists alike.