This Week in Restoring Family Links: 06/13/2016 - 06/17/2016

Rainbow Pride Flag. Photo Credit: NKTWENTYTHREE via GETTY IMAGES.

Rainbow Pride Flag. Photo Credit: NKTWENTYTHREE via GETTY IMAGES.

Orlando Shooting: Early morning, June 13, a gunman opened fire in Pulse – a popular gay nightclub in downtown Orlando, killing 49 individuals and injuring 53. This shooting is considered the worse mass shooting in U.S. history. More than 30 injured individuals are still hospitalized as of Tuesday, June 14 – six of them in critical conditions. All the victims were identified.

The American Red Cross released a media statement on the morning after the mass shooting, offering condolences to families of the victims and people in Orlando. The Red Cross in Orlando continues to provide comfort and support. So far, the Red Cross has delivered 30 units of type 0- blood to hospitals in Florida to aid the treatments of individuals after the shooting. Furthermore, Red Cross mental health volunteers are at a family assistance center to support those struggling to come to terms with this tragedy. Other regional chapters, such as ARC Maine chapter, have also dispatched volunteers to aid those in need in Orlando.

Presently, the blood drive in Orlando is the biggest service provided by the Red Cross. The aftermath of the shooting coincided with World Blood Donor Day, which raises awareness for the need to continue donating blood and platelets. The Orlando shooting tragedy shows that emergencies can happen at any given time, and the Red Cross urges eligible donors to make an appointment to give blood in the near future. For more information, future blood donors can visit the Red Cross Blood Donor App,, or call 1-800-733-2767. 

Syria and the holy month of Ramadan: During the first week of June, a suburb area of Syria’s capital Damascus for the first time received humanitarian aid since 2012. A joint convoy between the United Nations, Syrian Arab Red Crescent, and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) was sent to the area, where the estimated population was around 4000-8000.

The area was crippled with government blockades since 2011 as residents of the area expelled security forces in the beginning of the 2011 uprising against President Bashar Assad. The convoy was part of the priority of humanitarian organizations to aid millions of people facing severe food shortages. As of June 12, the UN has gained approval to enter 15 out of 17 besieged areas to lessen food shortages that the resident have been facing. However, it is reported that the food assistance is not enough for everyone in the besieged areas.

During the holy month Ramadan, Red Crescent Societies and the ICRC have also reached out to those in needs. For instance, the Turkey Red Crescent plans to distribute food aid to about half a million people in need “from Syria and Iraq to the Balkans and those living in Asian and African countries.” Similarly, ICRC had distributed the Quran, food, and other items, such as goat meat, milk powder, tea leaves, sugar and dates, to 5000 detainees throughout Somalia.