Nigerian Red Cross provides psychosocial support to blast survivors

Publié: 8 juillet 2014 12:31 CET

By Nwakpa O. Nwakpa, IFRC

The day in late May started like any other. There was nothing special about it. But as evening drew in, Hajia Hadiza Bello, a mother of nine, suddenly became a widow when her husband was killed by a bomb blast in Jos, Plateau state. Bello Ahmad Ali had tried to stop an explosive-laden car from parking in front of a viewing centre where many had gathered to watch a football match, but to no avail. He lost his life and his house to the explosion.

“It was like a dream when it dawned on me that I have become both widowed and homeless with many children to care for,” says Hadiza, who now lives with her parents and her youngest of her children. The others are grown and living on their own.

“We lost everything to the blast. I have been here with my parents ever since. I really do not know how to cope with this new responsibility,” she says. Hadiza wants to get back on her feet, but is not sure how. “I have tailoring skills, but I don’t have equipment,” she says.

Hajia Hadiza’s family is one of 250 families which have been selected to receive assistance from the Red Cross psychosocial support programme for survivors and families of deceased from the Jos blasts.

“When people are affected by conflict, human-made disasters, or a natural disaster, their entire being is often neglected, especially the psychological wounds, which are invisible and take time to heal,” says Adeyemo Andronicus, from the Nigerian Red Cross Society psychosocial support programme.

“More often than not, the main focus of humanitarian workers during and after a disaster is first aid, and the provision of food and non-food relief items. Psychological wounds and other forms of trauma which are often not properly taken care of, sometimes lead to other disorders which can have a negative effect on society as a whole.”

Through the Disaster Relief Emergency Funds released by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), the Nigerian Red Cross Society has trained 47 volunteers from Plateau and three other Red Cross branches of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe states where states of emergency have been declared. Working in collaboration with the National Emergency Management Agency, some of these trained volunteers, currently working in Jos, will be carrying out house-to-house visits providing psychosocial support, which includes supportive communication, emotional and social support to the 250 targeted families.

The Secretary General of the Nigerian Red Cross Society, Bello Hamman Diram, thanked the IFRC for providing support for the National Society to have a positive impact on Nigeria’s humanitarian landscape. “The National Society is the first to embark on such organized psychosocial support activities of this magnitude since the escalation of insurgency in the northeast and other parts of Nigeria,” says Diram.

The Nigerian Red Cross Society, through its Plateau Branch, was among the first to respond to two explosions, one at a market, the other at the viewing centre, providing emergency first aid and psychosocial support to 90 people. Volunteers also helped reunite hospitalized victims with their relatives.