REACT Disaster Response: 2023 Year in Review

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Posted by Laura Butlin 22nd December 2023 News

Estimated Reading Time: 5 mins

As we reflect on 2023, it's clear that it has been a period of significant challenges, profound impact and remarkable resilience. This News Year in Review chronicles the tireless efforts of REACT in responding to global crises and humanitarian emergencies. From the flood-stricken regions of Ukraine to the remote High Atlas Mountains in Morocco, our teams have been at the forefront of providing critical support and training.

In this review, we capture the essence of our mission: humanitarian action for the hardest-to-reach and most vulnerable while building lasting partnerships and enhancing our operational capabilities. Join us as we look back on a year of dedication, adaptability, and the profound difference made by our dedicated Responders and partners across the globe.

January-March: Resilience in Action

Türkiye: Earthquake Rapid Response (February and March): When a massive earthquake hit Türkiye, REACT's teams were among the first to respond. Our rapid deployment illustrated the agility and readiness of our Responders to tackle natural disasters on a global scale. In a display of solidarity and effective crisis management, our teams provided essential support to the earthquake-stricken areas, showcasing our commitment to rapid humanitarian action.


April-June: Expanding Horizons

MOU in Sierra Leone (May): Signing a Memorandum of Understanding with Sierra Leone’s Disaster Management Agency was a milestone in our global outreach. This strategic alliance signifies our commitment to enhancing international disaster support and capacity-building. By working closely with local agencies, we can better respond to emergencies by understanding the cultural and regional specifics.

Sudan Evacuation (May): REACT Responders were deployed to UK airports to support evacuees from the conflict in Sudan, providing vital assistance amidst a massive evacuation operation; over 86 Responders mobilised with only hours' notice to aid over 1000 displaced individuals at Stansted, Birmingham, and Gatwick. Their tasks ranged from comforting evacuees managing their immediate needs, to coordinating transport.

Praised for their adaptability and humanitarian values, REACT's team worked closely with councils, airport staff, and the British Red Cross, receiving accolades for their efficient and compassionate response. REACT remains ready to respond to future needs related to the Sudan conflict.

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June-August: Recognition and Growth

Persistent Support in Ukraine (June): Our ongoing efforts in Ukraine were a testament to our commitment to the country and our partners. In June, we reached a significant milestone by distributing over 10,000 meals, addressing the immediate needs of flood-affected communities. This continuous support underscored our dedication to being a steadfast presence in times of crisis.

Airlink Conference (June): Our participation in the Airlink Conference represented a strategic move in fostering global disaster response collaborations. By sharing knowledge and resources, we are better positioned to respond to disasters worldwide, upholding our commitment to collaborative and effective humanitarian action.

International Operations Training (June): The June International Operations Training Course showcased our dedication to excellence. This program equipped our volunteers with essential skills to handle global emergencies, reinforcing our foundation of being prepared, adaptable, and effective in crises.

Silver Award and Partnerships (July & August): Receiving the Armed Forces Covenant Silver Award was a proud recognition of our inclusive approach and support to the armed forces community. The formation of new partnerships with the National Emergencies Trust in August furthered our collaborative spirit, enabling us to amplify our impact and work more effectively in disaster response.

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September-December: Sustained Action and Community Focus

Morocco Earthquake Response (September): In September, our rapid response to the earthquake in Morocco highlighted our capability for quick mobilisation. This operation emphasised our role as a leading humanitarian rapid response charity by supporting local communities in their critical time of need.

Continued Aid in Ukraine (October & November): Our persistent humanitarian action in Ukraine, including medical training for frontline workers, illustrated our commitment to the region. Our efforts extended beyond traditional humanitarian aid to encompass capacity building and empowerment, ensuring communities have the resources and skills to face future challenges.

New Partnerships (October): REACT has partnered with New Zealand's Taskforce Kiwi (TK) following collaborative efforts during Cyclone Gabrielle's clean-up operation. Like REACT, TK comprises former armed forces and emergency services personnel specialising in disaster assistance.

The partnership, solidified through a Memorandum of Understanding signed by REACT's Toby Wicks and TK's Richard Adams, aims to enhance global disaster response collaboration. REACT, actively involved in various international efforts, sees this alliance as a significant step in expanding its global humanitarian impact, leveraging shared values of speed, practicality, and humility in disaster response.

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Advanced Training (October):  REACT Responders undertook the Remote Medical Responder: Wilderness First Responder course, facilitated by Remote Area Risk International (R2Ri). The course equipped Responders with essential skills and knowledge to handle medical emergencies in remote environments, enhancing our response capabilities.

UK Storm Response (October-December): Our response to storms and the successful UK Flood Appeal from October to December highlighted our dedication to local resilience and preparedness. These operations within the UK exemplified our adaptable and responsive nature, ensuring that communities are supported through various emergencies.

Strengthening Community Support (December): Our involvement in the December Severe Weather Emergency Protocol in London reflected our ongoing commitment to community support. This initiative highlights our resolve to be present for vulnerable populations, providing essential aid and comfort in times of need.

In 2023, REACT Disaster Response underscored its commitment to providing effective, collaborative support in global humanitarian crises. Our skilled Responders, strategic partnerships, and community-focused approach have been pivotal in impacting the lives of those affected by crises. As we close this year's News Year in Review, we reflect on the impactful work of our REACT teams and our ongoing monitoring of situations around the globe.

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In progress and monitoring

Our Response Teams have returned to Ukraine after successfully delivering Incident Management Training in Zaporizhia and Kherson. Partnering with the Ukrainian Education Platform, Myrne Nebo, the Ukrainian Red Cross, and other local organisations, they trained 92 individuals, focusing on risk mitigation and trauma medicine. Essential medical equipment was also provided to both teams and individuals, underscoring our commitment to equipping our partners with the necessary resources.

We continue to focus our efforts on understanding and enhancing our capacity to provide strategic support in the Middle East when the time is right. We are in discussions with four potential partners, including two within the UN system and two International NGOs, to identify areas where REACT can offer immediate-term strategic assistance. 

For Morocco, plans are underway to return to the High Atlas Mountains. Working alongside our local partners, we aim to assist in building winterised shelters and addressing critical unmet needs. This operation is a testament to our ongoing commitment to providing practical support and building resilience in vulnerable communities.

As we step into 2024, we remain dedicated to our mission, driven by our values, and inspired by the impact we can achieve together.