I feel the pressure flying into crisis zones

September 01, 2017 14:02

World Jewish Relief continually monitors countries at risk of a natural or man-made disaster. Some are easier to predict: we can follow the path of a hurricane and make some educated guesses about potential damage. Earthquakes are almost impossible to forecast.

We use three criteria to decide when to launch an emergency appeal: first, is there widespread humanitarian need? Second, are we able to make a difference to alleviate the suffering? And third, can we raise enough money to enable us to respond?

Before I board the plane I need to read and digest situation reports and perhaps get a last-minute vaccination.

Once I land in the country, I meet our potential partners. If they are new, I run due diligence on their activities. I look at which areas of the country have been worst hit and where the rest of the international community is working.

Often we choose more remote locations where other agencies aren’t working as our impact is greater and our supporters’ donations go further.

Everyone will have different feelings flying into disaster zones. For me, it’s a combination of pressure and anticipation. I have a big responsibility to ensure our programmes reach the most vulnerable people.

When I look back at what we’ve achieved after each disaster, it is rewarding to see the difference the UK Jewish community has made.

Saving and changing lives is the best part of my job and I get emotional thinking about the individuals we’ve supported. It is humbling to be with people who have lost everything.

World Jewish Relief’s new disaster response team will build our capacity to respond to future emergencies. We’re after highly-skilled people who want to help others in need.

Flying into disaster zones is not for everyone, but it is an experience you will never forget.


Mireille Flores manages World Jewish Relief’s humanitarian portfolio and has travelled to disaster zones in countries including Haiti, Nepal, Uganda and Ukraine for the charity

September 01, 2017 14:02

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