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A Salesian protocol for handling emergencies

By ANS, Rome
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Kolkata, Feb. 17. (ANS - Rome) -As one of the final documents during his term of office, Fr Pascual Ch�vez has left Provincials and Salesians a letter with 10 guidelines for handling emergencies, especially in cases of natural disasters, war, violence or social and political instability.
This documents comes almost 10 years after the Tsunami of December 2004 which struck parts of South East Asia and which saw enormous involvement and teamwork from Mission Offices and Salesian NGOs. From this and subsequent experiences - especially the campaign of support and reconstruction in Haiti - the need to have some clear points of reference was seen, both at the centre and in the Provinces.

In the meantime other international organisations like Caritas or other religious congregations published or updated their ''Emergency guidelines''; and it should not be forgotten that even in recent cases - such as recently for Syria, Philippines, South Sudan or the Central African Republic- the Congregation has gained much practical experience.

During the General Council's 2013 Summer session the need to draw up a specific text dealing with the issue was presented and this saw a process put in motion involving firstly the Councillor for the Missions and the Economer General - flanked by 5 Mission offices and the Don Bosco Network (DBN), and they already had in hand a check list relating to actions to be undertaken in the first 48 hours following the outbreak of an emergency.

The final documents, which is also an expression of the Preventive System and a step forward in being better prepared for major crises, points to a typology of emergencies: local  (minor), major or ongoing. The document is a framework, a guideline especially for the latter two and without pretending to be complete at a professional level, draws attention to 10 points:

1.   Being there

2.   Offering practical and spiritual services

3.   Working in unity

4.   Sharing information

5.   Welcoming international solidarity and coordination

6.   Transparency

7.   Thinking longer term

8.   Encouraging local involvement and an awareness of rights

9.   Taking preventive measures

10.Guaranteeing reasonable transition from the emergency stage to one of rebuilding

Amongst practical indicators are: investment from the Planning and Development Offices (PDO) as the most suitable bodies to intervene; invitation to set up emergency response teams in provinces in greater risk areas; educating lay people helping us to what to do in an emergency; reference to reaction procedures in the first 48 hours after the emergency, produced by DBN; and the ultimate responsibility of the Rector Major in deciding on emergency coordination at international level.

The full text of the letter is available on
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