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Jun 9, 2021

Red Cross Holds Training to Protect Those Using Hurricane Shelters from Violence and Exploitation

The Belize Red Cross is working with seven communities through a climate change and disaster resiliency preparedness project.  As a part of the project, they are carrying out a number of workshops with to train first responders to recognize violence in shelters, as well as how to make those spaces more gender friendly and safe for all groups.  Today, the Red Cross hosted one of the workshops in Belize City.  News Five stopped in at the event to find out more.


Andrea Polanco, Reporting

The Belize Red Cross is training forty participants how to protect vulnerable groups and create safe spaces that are gender inclusive during times of disaster or emergencies. It’s being done through a project called the “Community Resilience Building in the Caribbean.”


Frederick Hunter

Frederick Hunter, Field Coordinator, Community Resilience Building in the Caribbean, Belize Red Cross

“A lot of gender issues are exacerbated by disaster scenarios. You hear about rapes in shelters and things like that and just the aftermath, especially internationally, not just for natural disasters but for conflict situations, civil wars, wars, etc… We have to ensure that the population, not just women and children, but men and boys too are safe. So, this is to ensure that everyone is included and we don’t just focus on women but women and men, not just girls but girls and boys; people of different religious, ethnic, economic etc… backgrounds.”


The session covers protection gender inclusion and exploitation, protection against sexual exploitation and abuse, as well as child protection. Lina Garcia is the workshop trainer.


Lina Garcia

Lina Garcia, Regional Advisor for Protection Gender & Inclusion, Canadian Red Cross

“Some of the important things are how to identify risks when you are in communities, for child protection, for women and for the most vulnerable people.”


Andrea Polanco

“How do we ensure there is safety for those persons in shelters?”


Lina Garcia

“So, there are two different ways – one is building capacity in the first responders’ organization such as CEMO that we have here today. So, we teach them how to adequate these shelters for protection or keeping that protection eye within the prep phase of an emergency. For example, we have to make sure that the restrooms are in a safe area; are different for men, women and children; that there is appropriate lighting so that women don’t have to go in dark areas. So, that is one way and the other way is having awareness in our communities telling them how they can identify their own risks in their communities or identify referral pathways where they can go for response of a gender-based violence case.”


Andrea Polanco

“How does this add to or help them during that time?”


Lina Garcia

“Having safe space for women, children, men, or elderly people help them to keep their dignity because after a disaster you lose everything but you can’t lose your dignity as a human.”


The Belize Red Cross is a first responder for disasters and other national emergencies. For this reason, their staff members; as well as wide cross section of their volunteers and representatives of the City Emergency Management Organization are participating in this workshop.


Orlando Jimenez

Orlando Jimenez, Project Manager, Community Resilience Building in the Caribbean, Belize Red Cross

“To prepare for disaster is not only working when the disaster happens but we need to prepare before. So, these people, our volunteers and our staff will be very much aware. They will have what we call a gender lens to be able to detect issues long before it happens. So, in order for us to prepare we have to train these people so that they can see and recognize what happens and report back to headquarters so that we can take action to correct it.  Essentially, we want families to be prepared in the event of disasters. When we have a disaster there are spaces that these people need to go, shelters and so on, and we need to have the amenities there available that we reduce any type of violence or gender issues while at that space.”


Reporting for News Five, I’m Andrea Polanco.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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