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Sarah Davidson
25 Jan

UEL academic posted to Algerian hostage crisis as humanitarian aid worker

The course leader of a unique online Masters course in humanitarian studies at UEL was deployed to the recent Algerian hostage crisis, as part of the British Red Cross response team.

Sarah Davidson, who works as a clinical psychologist at UEL and runs the MSc in International Humanitarian Psychosocial Consultation (IHPC), was posted to Algeria during the crisis where she played a key role in the Red Cross Psychosocial Support Team (PST), joining forces with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO)’s Rapid Deployment team.

The Red Cross PST team operates a rota system where volunteers take turns to be on standby, ready to deploy within six hours if a crisis should arise. They are trained to give emotional support and practical advice to those dealing with difficult or traumatic experiences.

Speaking about her recent experience, Sarah said: “I was aware of what was happening from the news. I never have a bag packed when I’m on standby, as I don’t know what kind of climate I may be sent to, but I managed to get to the airport within a couple of hours. The team was briefed that there was a hostage situation in Algeria involving British nationals, but it was the next morning before we could get a flight out there.

“We arrived on Friday afternoon and made contact with the incident team, which was working tirelessly to manage the situation and get people out of the plant. Our role was to talk things through with anyone involved in the crisis – not just British nationals – and help them cope with this extremely stressful situation. We witnessed some breathtaking dedication from the teams on the ground and I have great respect for their professionalism and dignity.”

The MSc in International Humanitarian Psychosocial Consultation (IHPC) aims to promote awareness of psychosocial factors within the context of humanitarian work, both for the populations affected and the well-being of workers supporting them.

Many of the students taking the course are studying through distance-learning, while providing humanitarian aid in areas such as Haiti and Afghanistan.

To find out more about the MSc in International Humanitarian Psychosocial Consultation (IHPC), contact Dr Sarah Davidson, on 0208 223 4564 or s.davidson@uel.ac.uk

Notes to Editors

The University of East London (UEL) is a global learning community with over 28,000 students from over 120 countries world-wide. Our vision is to achieve recognition, both nationally and internationally, as a successful and inclusive regional university proud of its diversity, committed to new modes of learning which focus on students and enhance their employability, and renowned for our contribution to social, cultural and economic development, especially through our research and scholarship. We have a strong track-record in widening participation and working with industry.

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