Riad Malki, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates, declared in a statement that the Palestinian Rapid Response Team has reached Venezuela and is preparing to leave to the Caribbean Islands as soon as Hurricane Maria passes. The team, led by the Palestinian International Cooperation Agency (PICA) as mission coordinators, consists of shelter specialists from the Palestinian Red Crescent Society, specialized rescuers form the Palestinian Civil Defense, specialized doctors from the Palestinian Ministry of Health, a team of Palestinian doctors from Venezuela, as well as the Palestinian ambassador to Venezuela and the Caribbean Islands Ms. Linda Sobeh.
Malki affirmed the relief mission comes upon the instructions of H.E. President Mahmoud Abbas as an expression of solidarity with the Caribbean Region and specifically the islands directly affected by the hurricanes that led to great loses in life and property.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates added that the team of 36 members, assembled on short notice, is at the core of the State of Palestine’s rapid response team. PICA, upon the instructions of President Abbas, hopes for this team to strengthen its presence on the international arena and be on the ready to act alongside other international teams tackling the various challenges affecting the international community. There already is high-level cooperation with other European and International cooperation agencies to train rapid response teams and provide them with the necessary equipment according to international standards.
Malki stated that the Palestinian International Cooperation Agency (PICA) coordinated heavily on both national and international levels with different governmental institutions and embassies including embassy of Venezuela in Palestine and others to tackle all logistic and administrative matters and guarantee the mission takes off without hiccups.
He further stated that, despite the obvious limitations in terms of material resources, the State of Palestine is ready to express its full solidarity with members of the international community using its rich and diverse human resource. This is part of the mission of PICA, where it aspires to promote positive international interaction with the Palestinian Cause, and to create a more equitable world through international cooperation and development.
The Director General of PICA Mr. Imad Zuheiri heads the rapid response team. In addition, the team includes Palestinian Red Cross Society coordinator Mr. Nasser Qabaja and his team, Palestinian Civil Defense coordinator Mr. Mohammad Al-Sayed and his team, as well as Ministry of Health coordinator Dr. Khaled Al-Sarahna and his team.
Ambassador of the State of Palestine to Venezuela and the Caribbean Ms. Linda Sobeh has coordinated for the arrival of the team, and has prepared humanitarian packages to be distributed in the areas where the team will be deployed.
The team will be joined by representatives of Palestinian development and investment companies who will be responsible to assess the situation and conduct meetings in order to add a new dimension to the mission besides the humanitarian relief dimension.