International rescue: too little or too much?(International Rescue)

On May 21,2003, a major earthquake measuring 6.7 on the Richter Scale rocked the northern provinces of Algeria, prompting the international community to once again mobilise its voluntary rescue organisations to bring help and assistance to devastated communities. But was that response adequate? Did it make a difference? Was it required at all?

The British response to the Algerian earthquake was well provisioned and organised, ensuring a highly motivated and skilled team of specialists was available to assist the stricken communities within hours of the disaster. Several teams totalling 94 rescue workers and seven dogs at a cost of 196,000 [pounds sterling] to the Government were on hand to help. Other nations, including Israel, Switzerland, Japan and Austria, sent teams to the area giving a total of about 1,000 rescue workers.

The UK contingent remained "in country" for three complete days. A spokesperson for International Rescue Corps (IRC) said: "We bring to a country the things they may not be able to provide themselves: highly trained rescue staff equipped with rescue equipment, thermal imaging cameras and acoustic detectors. We are also self sufficient with food, water and shelter. …

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