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Red Cross 'Situation Update' on the Westgate Mall hostage crisis

Coastweek -- This SitRep No.WMHS- 002 of September 23, 2013 (issued at 11h00) gives a brief overview of the response by Kenya Red to the on-going hostage crisis at the Westgate Shopping Mall.

Situation Overview: The Westgate Mall crisis entered day two with the release of four hostages and retrieval of nine additional bodies bringing the total number of confirmed fatalities to 62. In addition, 175 persons have been reportedly admitted in several hospitals with injuries.

Responses: The Kenya Red Cross Society (KRCS) continues to have a 24- hour operational centre at Visa Oshwal Centre adjacent to Nakumatt UKAY just a few metres from Westgate Shopping Mall.

The main services being provided include First Aid, triage, Fire Safety, Tracing and Restoration of Family links and Psychosocial counselling.

The ambulance and logistics deployment includes 12 Advanced Life Support Ambulances and paramedics as well as a fleet of service Land Cruisers.

As at the time of this update, Red Cross volunteers from several upcountry branches have arrived in Nairobi to assist with various aspects of the operation.

Blood donation: In response to the acute blood shortage in the hospitals, KRCS activated a countrywide blood drive that saw 2732 units of blood collected on day 1.

The major bleeding centre in Kencom bus stage, Nairobi collected 1140 units.

In Mombasa 412 units of blood was collected, Nakuru: 527, Naivasha: 103, Bungoma: 60 and Kisumu: 490.

Due to various challenges, several donors were unable to give blood in this first day.

The drive will continue on Monday 24th September 2013 at Uhuru Park located near the Central Business District in Nairobi.

Other bleeding centres in Kisumu, Mombasa, Eldoret, Nakuru, Bungoma, Naivasha, Nyeri and other county hospitals will also continue with the bleeding exercise.

Psychosocial support: These important services have been offered right from the first day of the hostage crisis with the setting up systems, retraining of volunteer counsellors, registration and deployment to the three sites in Aga Khan Hospital, MP Shah Hospital and the main desk outside Westgate Shopping Mall.

The three teams of 110 counsellors assisted a total 50 individuals (family members and affected persons) in the three centres during the two shift working schedule.

This is a service that will be needed more and more in the coming days and weeks.

Tracing services: The KRCS has set up tracing desks at the Visa Oshwal Centre, and at Aga Khan and M.P Shah Hospitals.

As of Sunday 22nd September 2013, 65 cases of missing persons were registered.

Completed profiling of all casualties in Aga Khan, M. P Shah and Kenyatta Hospitals was done.

All the fatalities in the morgue have also been profiled.

The number of closed cases was 18.

In addition, an online platform for registering missing persons has been established.

A hotline number 0714820219 was also activated.

The Kenya Red Cross twitter handle also started a #RedCrossTrace tag for information sharing.

Co-ordination: Several organisations, institutions and individuals are playing different but complimentary roles in the response to the on-going hostage crisis.

KRCS continues to work with National and the County Governments, fire brigade, private security agencies, ambulance service providers, mobile phone service providers, financial institutions, hospitals, National Blood Transfusion Centres, the media houses, the neighbouring community and other well-wishers.

The Psychological Association of Kenya, the Kenyatta University and private Counselling Centres and individual counsellors are providing round the clock support to affected persons.

Overall, the humanitarian operation continues to be led by the KRCS.

Information has been widely shared within and outside the Red Cross movement and with a wide range of partners.

Furthermore, the KRCS is continuously updating the public on the situation as it develops through its social media channels that include the website, twitter and Facebook.

The IFRC on its part has continued to provide technical support and has also approved a DREF allocation to support the operations.

Gaps/ Challenges: The prolonged hostage situation is putting a strain on all resources.

Blood remains a critical need. Uncertainty on the direction the situation will finally take is making planning difficult. Several hostages still remain held up inside the Westgate Mall.

For more information please contact:

Dr. Abbes Gullet at or

The KRCS Emergency Operation Centre on 1199, 0700395395, 0738395395


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