Press Release

International Medical Corps Global Ambassador Sienna Miller Launches “First Responders” Campaign

First Responders will honor the millions of unsung heroes who are the first to respond to disasters across the globe


Sienna Miller today launched the First Responders campaign, intended to raise awareness of the work of local people around the world in responding to humanitarian disasters. The campaign will be run by International Medical Corps UK in cooperation with the European Commission.

When war or natural disaster strikes, the first people on the scene are not French trauma surgeons or a British search and rescue team – it is the local people! Hours after Typhoon Haiyan struck, it was local doctors and nurses who turned to the injured, before international responders arrived. In Syrian refugee camps in Jordan, the majority of staff providing lifesaving care are themselves refugees. The caregivers in the camps for internally displaced people in the Central African Republic and South Sudan are the displaced themselves.

International relief workers are indispensable for saving lives but the vital importance of local First Responders should not be overlooked. Training and preparing these local first responders is central to building the resilience of local communities to future disasters. Every dollar invested in preparedness saves up to seven in disaster recovery, and countless lives are being saved or improved.

The international community needs to step up its efforts and invest into a more effective model than responding only after the crisis occurs. There is a lot to be improved: according to the 2013 Global Humanitarian Assistance report, only 5% of official humanitarian relief is invested in disaster preparedness and prevention.

The First Responders campaign will honor these local heroes from around the world. Sienna Miller, International Medical Corps Global Ambassador said: “I have seen first-hand in Haiti, Ethiopia and DRC that having a trained First Responder available can mean the difference between life and death. Whether that’s a midwife, a mother trained in how to spot the signs of malnutrition or a nurse with a steady supply of vaccines. Training local people to become First responders in their own communities is the best possible way to save lives after a humanitarian disaster, which is why I am pledging to become a First Responder today.”

Kristalina Georgieva, European Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection, stressed that “as one of the world’s largest donors of humanitarian aid, the European Union has a key role in leading the debate on how humanitarian funding is spent. One fifth of the European Commission’s humanitarian funding is spent on disaster preparedness supporting people facing disasters all around the world. International Medical Corps are experts at building resilience. We are proud to partner with them to run this campaign, highlighting the importance of resilience and honouring First Responders worldwide.”

About the First Responders Campaign: The First Responders 2014 campaign, spearheaded by International Medical Corps UK in partnership with the European Commission, is a celebration of the millions of unsung heroes around the world who respond to global disasters every day. It aims to raise awareness of the importance of resilience in reducing the impact of humanitarian disasters.

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