International Team Delivers Aid Around the World in 2023

Julie H. Case

From cyclone and earthquake responses to medical training missions, here’s how and where Team Rubicon took on crises across the globe in 2023.

For Team Rubicon’s international team, 2023 was an active year as 75 Greyshirts deployed on five operations in five countries, and served more than 17,650 individuals. 

Here’s a look at some of Team Rubicon International’s most impactful operations in 2023.

A Medical Care Training Operation in Sub-Saharan West Africa

As one of the most vulnerable countries in the world, Niger has an estimated 4.3 million people in need of humanitarian aid. A largely agrarian and subsistence-based economy, the country is frequently disrupted by extended droughts and was hit with flooding in 2022. In a country where the majority of the roads are unpaved, and travel typically occurs by foot, only roughly half of Nigerians have access to a health structure within a 3-mile radius of their home. 

Prehospital and emergency medicine training in Niger.

To help local medical care providers improve both access to—and efficacy within—healthcare in the nation, Team Rubicon sent a group of prehospital and emergency medicine experts to Niamey, Niger, in early 2023, where they would teach Medical Evacuation and Basic Emergency Care to prehospital providers. 

Over the course of the operation, Greyshirts trained individuals who have since been able to implement what they learned to improve health outcomes in their regions. Capacity building is one way Team Rubicon has a lasting impact in underserved areas by providing training and knowledge that improves performance and drives better outcomes. 

A Cyclone Response in Malawi

When Cyclone Freddy arrived in Africa’s landlocked Malawi on March 12, 2023, it brought high winds and intense flooding with it. Considered the most energetic cyclone in history, Freddy killed hundreds and displaced more than 600,000 people. 

The EMT Type-1 Mobile team in Malawi after Cyclone Freddy.

To help those affected, Team Rubicon dispatched two waves of its World Health Organization-verified Emergency Medical Team (EMT) Type-1 Mobile to provide vital medical services. A Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) team also responded to provide water purification and sanitation needs. 

Over the course of the operation, Team Rubicon served more than 5,400 individuals in hard-to-reach areas of Malawi.

An Earthquake Response in Morocco

When a 6.8 magnitude earthquake struck Morocco on Friday, September 8, it killed thousands and displaced an estimated 500,000 people.

In response to the strongest earthquake to hit Morocco in more than a century, Team Rubicon immediately deployed an assessment team and was one of the first organizations on the ground. Then, after teaming up with local partner Rawafid Humanitarian Association, Team Rubicon deployed an interdisciplinary WASH team to Morocco, including to remote communities in the Atlas Mountains. Over the course of several weeks, the Greyshirts provided clean water and WASH training to more than 12,100 individuals.

Demonstrating WASH in Morocco after the earthquake.

Two Disaster Preparedness Trainings in the Americas

Team Rubicon deployed Greyshirt teams to both Latin and South America in 2023 to provide at-risk countries with critical disaster preparedness training.

An Emergency Preparedness Exercise in Panama

Located at the southern edge of Latin America, narrow Panama regularly experiences extreme weather events, including intense and protracted rainfalls, windstorms, floods, droughts, wildfires, earthquakes, landslides, tropical cyclones, tsunamis, and El Nino Southern Oscillation impacts. Its people are especially at risk, with relatively high mortality risk from hazards across the population and 12.5% of people vulnerable to two or more hazards.

Participating in the disaster preparedness simulation in Panama.

In an effort to better prepare specialized national groups and the overall population before threatening events, the Coordination Centre for the Prevention of Natural Disasters in Central America hosted a regional disaster preparedness simulation in the country in June. 

More than 1,400 participants from 18 countries came together to strengthen their capabilities, coordination, and communication to support a more effective and efficient regional response. 

For its part, Team Rubicon—the only international humanitarian organization invited as a participant in the drill—shared its expertise in disaster medicine, coordination during a response, and humanitarian action. 

A Disaster Preparedness Tabletop Training in Colombia

Due to its unique geographical features, Colombia faces diverse natural disaster risks, including earthquakes, volcanic activity, landslides, floods, and tropical storms.

Leading lead a training on how to implement a tabletop exercise in Colombia.

The government, led by agencies like the National Disaster Risk Management Unit, has taken steps to enhance preparedness, including implementing early warning systems, improving infrastructure resilience, engaging communities in disaster risk reduction, and developing response plans. International cooperation has also been pursued to share knowledge and resources. So, in August, Team Rubicon sent three Greyshirts to Riohacha, Colombia, to provide training on how to implement a tabletop exercise to local agencies. The three-day disaster preparedness training, conducted in partnership with U.S. Southern Command, helped the Colombian government build local capacity and strengthen its agencies’ ability to respond to disaster.

Read More Stories