A new UN Representative Team has been established in Bangkok, Thailand. This team now joins the IFSW UN representative teams in New York, Geneva, Vienna, Nairobi and Santiago de Chile.
The Thai team will be led by Prof. Decha Sungkawan, Dean of Social Administration Work, including Social Work, Thammasat University, Bangkok. The establishment of this team enables IFSW to fully utilize its formal consultative status within the United Nations across the main global geographical regions.
Of particular importance to Thailand and the Asia – Pacific Region is the role of Social Work in supporting people in disaster management. Prof. Sungkawan has considerable knowledge on disaster management and is currently leading staff and students to effectively coordinate a response for people displaced by the Bangkok floods. The university itself has been transformed to a shelter for 3700 displaced persons. The social work students with support from the faculty members have organized craft workshops where displaced people can work in groups to relieve the stress caused by the loss of their homes, and also raise money for the future rebuilding of their communities.
Social work students are also involved in teaching the displaced people to support each other intergenerationally rather than creating a dependency based services. “This capacity building approach in the context of natural disaster demonstrates the important role social workers have to play in disaster situations”, said Dr Rory Truell, IFSW Secretary-General, who visited the Thammasat Relief Center last week.
IFSW is pleased that it can now bring a social work perspective to the global discussions at the UN in Asia-Pacific, Africa, Europe, Latin America and North America regions.