More than 1800 fatalities, hundreds of thousands of refugees and 80 per cent of New Orleans flooded: Hurricane Katrina, which hit the south coast of the USA on 29 August 2005, was one of the worst natural disasters in the country's history. The German government instructed its technical relief agency, the Technisches Hilfswerk (THW), to step in, and ten days later the THW had its first heavy-duty pumps up and running in New Orleans. Six weeks later some 130 THW workers had pumped away five million cubic metres of water – enough to fill 2000 Olympic swimming pools.more: 10 years ago: THW in New Orleans with 15 large pumps after Katrina …
In the last weeks, hundreds of volunteers from THW have repeatedly supported the construction of refugee camps in Germany. In many Federal Länder the capacities for emergency accommodation still have to be expanded at short notice. As part of administrative assistance, the volunteers perform a wide range of tasks.
Today the Federal Agency for Technical Relief is carrying out a relief goods transport to Sierra Leone. Besides THW equipment, goods for the German Red Cross are also transported.
“Good and solid training is the basis for competent help in an emergency case. Therefore, we gladly pass on our THW-standards”, said THW’s President, Mr Albrecht Broemme, in Bonn. That was the starting signal for the first of three basic trainings provided in Germany to Tunisian volunteers. The training will start on Sunday in the local section of Sinzig. On behalf of the Foreign Office, THW supports with this training the development of honorary structures in Tunisia.
The influx of refugees from Syria to the neighbouring countries does not stop. About 100,000 refugees are living now in the camp of al Za´atari near the Syrian-Jordan border. The team of THW has been continuously working to improve the living conditions of the refugees in the tent town.
Al Za’atari, Jordan. To some extent, the living conditions of the Syrian refugees in Jordan are dramatic. Heavy rainfall and the onset of winter in the Near East have led to the worsening of the general situation. “We try our very best to make the camp more weather-proof”, says THW’s head of operations in Jordan, Ms Veronika Wolf. Near the Jordan-Syrian border, THW has supported the setting up of a refugee camp, which is meant to give shelter to up to 60,000 people.
In Bockange, France, about 300 operational staff from Germany, France and Luxemburg exercised on Thursday how to cooperate during an earthquake operation. The exercise was part of an international USAR (Urban Search and Rescue)-exercise. The large-scale exercise completed a three-day training course for managers. On behalf of Germany, THW-experts from the local sections of Saarbrücken and Heusweiler took part in the exercise.
One year ago today, an earthquake devastated Haiti which caused one of the most serious natural disasters of this century. The earthquake was at the beginning of a year which was marked by several blows of fate affecting the island state in the Caribbean: The earthquake was followed by cyclones, cholera and political unrest. Since then, the Federal Agency for Technical Relief (THW) has provided help in Haiti. After the immediate emergency help with water supply, the commitment of THW focused on sustainable relief measures.
“It’s impossible to imagine society without the THW. Its volunteers have a great reputation both abroad, where they act as our humanitarian ambassadors, and at home, where no-one will forget the pictures of the ‘blue angels’ helping to save lives during the catastrophic floods,” said Vice-Chancellor Franz Müntefering at the event “MdBs meet THW – helping together” yesterday in Berlin, which attracted more than 200 Members of the Bundestag, including the Federal Minister for Health, Ulla Schmidt, the President of the Bundestag, Norbert Lammert, the Vice President, Petra Pau, and SPD leader Kurt Beck.
A huge oil spill is threatening the seaside idyll of Germany’s Baltic coast. About 10,000 tonnes of heavy oil are drifting relentlessly towards the Bay of Lübeck, posing a particular threat to the area around the mouth of the River Trave. Acting on the instructions of the German Central Command for Maritime Emergencies, all available THW Technical Units Oil Pollution are being deployed to Lübeck.