The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is the world’s largest humanitarian network.
Our secretariat supports local Red Cross and Red Crescent action in more than 192 countries, bringing together almost 15 million volunteers for the good of humanity.
It is early in the morning on a hot day of July 2022. Long queues of people are seen in the courtyard of the primary school of Gorou Kirey, in a remote suburb of Niamey, the capital of Niger. The site is hosting a Niger Red Cross cash distribution operation for communities affected by the hunger crisis in the country. Boubacar Alzouma, a 76-year-old farmer, was among the first people to arrive. “I was not going to miss this, as there was nothing to prepare at home today,” says Boubacar, leaning on his walking stick for support. “It's embarrassing to say this, but there are days when we have nothing to eat at home,” he continues. Last year’s poor harvests due to erratic rainfall have brought Boubacar’s family to the brink of starvation. He was only able to harvest two bags of food from his 2-hectare field of millet, sorghum and cowpeas—insufficient to feed his 21 children. To cope with the hunger situation, Boubacar had made the difficult decision to sell all his livestock. “Our biggest hope is to have good rainfall this year. Otherwise, it will be a disaster again,” he says. After receiving cash from the Niger Red Cross, Boubacar rushed to buy food. Had it not been for this assistance, his family would have gone to bed hungry. The hunger crisis has affected 4.4 million people in Niger and is a result of the combined effects of climate shocks and insecurity. Boubacar’s story speaks for many. To help people cope, the Niger Red Cross has provided nearly 6,000 affected households across the country with cash assistance since May, supported by the IFRC and other partners from the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement. Assistance also includes food parcels in some areas and livestock feed to help farming families protect their livelihoods. The Niger Red Cross is also setting up community nutrition centres to screen and refer malnourished children to health centres. But more needs to be done to prevent the situation from worsening. “A rapid and strengthened response is needed to save lives, as the early lean season has pushed many families to the breaking point,” says Thierry Balloy, Head of IFRC Cluster Delegation in Niger. The scale of the hunger crisis prompted the IFRC to launch an emergency appeal for five million Swiss francs in May to support the Niger Red Cross in assisting 283,000 people (40,547 families). Money raised will be used to provide cash, nutrition and livelihoods support to the most vulnerable people, as well as long term resilience-building solutions. But as of July 2022, the appeal is only 30% funded. Boubacar’s future, and the futures of many other farmers like him in Niger, remains uncertain. But despite the challenges he and his family face, he remains hopeful: “If I receive a second grant and the next harvests are good, I will buy cattle. This will help us cope with the next difficult lean season,” says Boubacar.
IFRC: 210,000 migrants need urgent life-saving assistance and protection in Central America and Mexico
Panama City, 1 August 2022 -The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is ramping up its response to provide urgent humanitarian assistance and protection to 210,000 people on the move by land northwards through Central America and Mexico. Along migratory routes, many people suffer accidents and injuries, face extortion and sexual violence, or disappear and are separated from their families. Others are killed or die from disease or environmental conditions. According to official data, since January 2022, there is a concerning increase in the number of migrants and refugees in Central America and Mexico compared to previous years. Irregular migration has increased an 85% in Panama, 689% in Honduras, and 108% in Mexico. If this upward trend continues in the coming months, an estimated 500,000people* would require humanitarian assistance. Roger Alonso, IFRC Head of Disaster, Crises and Climate Unit, said: “Local Red Cross teams, from Panama to Mexico, confirm that dramatic spike in the number of migrants moving northwards. We are especially concerned for women, children, the disabled, older people, and LGBTQI migrants. They are at extreme risk and need medical and mental health assistance, access to food and water, information, connectivity, and resources to cover vital expenses such as paying for safe places to sleep.” Most of the migrants and refugees in transit through the region are from Cuba, Venezuela, and Haiti. Nationals from Honduras, Guatemala, Nicaragua, and Mexico also continue heading north. The main reasons for migrating include improving their income, escaping violence, reuniting with family members, and recovering from the impact of recurring disasters and extreme weather events. In Panama, in June 2022 alone, 15,000 migrants crossed the perilous Darien Gap – 500 people per day. Out of every 100 of them, 16 are children. In Costa Rica, 441 persons a day entered from Panama in May 2022, an increase of 158% compared to April 2022. Nearly 24,000 Cubans arrived in Nicaragua from January to May 2022, while in El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Mexico there is a significant increase in the number of returnees. In this challenging context, the IFRC has launched a 28 million CHF** Emergency Appeal to support 210,000 people on the move during the next 12 months. Red Cross Societies in Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Mexico will provide migrants, refugees, and returnees with health care, mental health support, access to water and sanitation services, and cash for them to cover essential needs, such as accommodation or food. Martha Keays, IFRC Regional Director for the Americas, said: It is unacceptable that migrating continues to cost people their dignity and their lives. This is why we are scaling up our current response and standing up our vital emergency support along migratory routes. We call on governments, our partners, and donors to join this humanitarian action. Protecting people migrating in a desperate situation and defending their rights, disregarding their status is a humanitarian imperative and a collective duty. The devastating socioeconomic effects in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the climate crisis, continuing political crises, and disasters will continue to ramp up exponentially population movements. The challenge ahead of us is titanic.” The Red Cross’ response will prioritize attention along the routes where most migrants and displaced persons face bureaucratic barriers, hostile climates, stigma, discrimination, violence, insecurity, and even loss of life. The support will be provided through the Red Cross network of 20 Humanitarian Service Points*** in Central America and Mexico. These are neutral, safe spaces—whether fixed or mobile—where people on the move can access health care, psychosocial support, and information, among other services. In Panama, for instance, the Humanitarian Service Point provides migrants crossing the Darien Gap with first aid, health care for pregnant women and children, psychosocial support, clean water, access to mobile phones, and information about the risks and services they may find along their journey. People who require specialized health support are referred to public services. With migration flows increasingin the region, this model will continue to save lives and reduce suffering. The IFRC and its network will also work with origin, transit, and host communities to address environmental-, climate-, and livelihood-related issues that may trigger population movements. For more information or to arrange an interview: In Panama: Susana Arroyo Barrantes, [email protected] In Panama: Maria Langman, [email protected],+507 6550 1090 In Geneva: Jenelle Eli, [email protected],+1 202 603 6803 Notes *The 500,000 people possibly affected have been estimated taking into account irregular crossing entries and reports from July to December 2021, considering a 45% increase scenario (most countries are above 100% increase ) and at least one aggregate of 173,176 from January to June 2022. **$29.2 million. ***Six in Guatemala, eight in Mexico, five in Honduras and one in Panama.
Colombo/Kuala Lumpur, 21 July 2022 – The economic crisis in Sri Lanka is tipping into one of the country’s worst humanitarian crises in decades, with 6.7 million people now in urgent need of humanitarian assistance. Millions of families are facing shortages of food, fuel, cooking gas, essential supplies, and medicines as the humanitarian impacts of the economic crisis continue to multiply. The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent (IFRC) holds particularly grave concerns for 2.4 million people already living below the poverty line who are among the most affected by the loss of livelihoods, food shortages and spiraling cost of essential items. Sri Lanka Red Cross Secretary General, Mahesh Gunasekara, said: “The situation has taken a devastating turn for people already struggling to put food on the table during the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s even worse for single parent households, and millions who cannot work or send their children to school because of the fuel crisis. “We need international support now to help millions of people pull their lives back together and avoid the worse. We need to act early to ensure lives can be saved.” The IFRC is supporting the Sri Lanka Red Cross Society (SLRCS) as the main national humanitarian actor. The SLRCS is a neutral and impartial organization which has been providing humanitarian assistance since the country’s independence. Over 10,000 dry ration food packs and 4000 cash grants have so far been distributed in 25 districts of the county, 5000 school packs have been given out in 10 districts. Clean water is being provided to those queuing for days for fuel and food parcels for 10,000 families in four districts. SLRCS is working closely with Ministry of Health to provide essential medicines that are currently in short supply to hospitals. First aiders and the Red Cross ambulances been providing emergency medical response to over 20,000 people injured during recent protests, including demonstrators and security forces. SLRCS has provided Ambulance services to over 1000 people and transported them to hospitals for further treatments. Speaking from Colombo, IFRC’s Special advisor for Humanitarian Crises and Emergencies Maryann Horne said: “The effects of the economic crisis are being felt in every single sector. The economic crisis is plunging those most vulnerable – some 2.4 million people already living below the poverty line into despair. With no income, people are barely able to cope, and are now selling their assets, getting into debt, being forced to cut down on food while many children are not able to go to school. “The emergency appeal will allow the most urgent humanitarian needs to be met. It will help prevent those most vulnerable at a time people have no cash, no jobs, and no fuel." The IFRC has launched an Emergency Appeal in support of Sri Lanka Red Cross for 28 million Swiss francs for urgent humanitarian assistance. For more information or to arrange an interview, contact: Kuala Lumpur: Rachel Punitha, +60-19-791-3830, [email protected] Colombo: Maryann Horne, +44-7912-477-045, [email protected]
Healing the invisible scars of the Ukraine conflict: IFRC and European Union launch mental health project
According to the WHO, one in five people are affected by mental health disorders in post-conflict settings. If left without treatment and adequate support, people from Ukraine face long-lasting effects that could harm themselves, their families and communities. “Wounds of war are deep, sometimes too deep to manage alone,” says Nataliia Korniienko, Mental Health and Psychosocial Support delegate with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC). As a Ukrainian herself who had to leave the country when the escalation began, she understands firsthand the stress faced by those fleeing conflict. “People are craving for someone to take the time to sit alongside them in their pain, but this often lacking for many fleeing Ukraine right now.” In a regional initiative to meet this massive need, National Red Cross Societies in the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania and Slovakia have joined forces to offer mental health and psychosocial support services to more than 300,000 people from Ukraine. Funded by the European Union and with technical assistance from the IFRC and the IFRC Psychosocial Centre, the project connects vulnerable people with mental health professionals and volunteers from the five National Societies. Support is offered in Ukrainian and other languages through various platforms, including helplines, mobile outreach and in-person group activities. Materials on psychosocial support in several languages are also going to be distributed among mental health professionals and the public. Since the first days of the conflict, Red Cross Red Crescent staff and volunteers have been assisting people at border crossing points, train stations and temporary shelters – listening and demonstrating empathy, sharing life-saving information, and taking care of vulnerable people. Aneta Trgachevska, acting Head of Health and Care at IFRC Europe, said: “We try to reach everyone in need in a convenient, personalized way. Assistance will not be limited to just a couple of calls or meetings—a person will receive support as long as we are needed. This kind of early response can alleviate symptoms and prevent people from developing serious levels of distress or even mental health conditions.” -- The content of this article is the sole responsibility of IFRC and does not necessarily reflect the views of the European Union.
Budapest, 14 July 2022 - Extreme temperatures have spiraled countries into dangerous heat waves and wildfires across Europe. The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) urges cities and communities to prepare to avoid a further disaster. Since May, Europe has been among the fastest “heat wave hot spots” in the world. Forecasts show no sign of abating. Many parts of western Europe are experiencing extreme temperatures and countries like Portugal are battling raging wildfires, impacting thousands of people. “With the climate crisis, this heat is part of our ‘new normal’,” says Maarten Aalst van, Director of the Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre. “These deadly events are now more frequent and more intense.” In the past ten years, climate- and weather-related disasters have killed more than 400,000 people, affected 1.7 billion others and displaced an average of 25 million people each year world-wide.The people most at risk of heat waves include older people, children, pregnant women, and those with pre-existing health conditions. Heat waves have cascading impacts in other areas of society, such as reduced economic output, strained health systems and rolling power outages. Staff and volunteers from National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies across the region are supporting communities preparing for and impacted by the heat waves. At the same time, teams are responding to the devastating wildfires most notably in Portugal, but also Spain, Italy, France, Greece and Turkey brought on by the extreme heat. “Many have had to evacuate their homes with the few things they can carry," saysAna Jorge, President of the Portuguese Red Cross."Our medical teams are focused on ensuring people are getting to safety, providing critical health care to those suffering from burns and other injuries and providing them with a bed to sleep in and the necessities as they decide their next steps.” With heat waves becoming more likely around the world as the climate crisis worsens, more preparedness and early warning systems are required to reduce and manage the risks. “People are not always aware of the dangers of heat. But when communities understand the risks and take simple measures to prepare for it, they can prevent unnecessary tragedies,” says van Aalst. “We urge cities and communities to prepare and take the necessary steps to save lives, now and in the long term.” For more information and to arrange an interview: In Budapest: Corrie Butler,[email protected]+36 704306506 In Athens: Georgia Trismpioti, [email protected] +30 6971809031 Note to Editors: IFRC’s Heat Wave Guide for Citiesand Urban Action Kitare resources for city officials, urban planners and community organizations to anticipate and plan for extreme urban heat and reduce deadly risks. C40’s Urban Cooling Toolboxprovides approaches to lower urban temperatures and reduce the impact of the urban heat effect; the Heat Resilient Cities Benefit Toolhelps city planners and decision-makers quantify the health, economic and environmental benefits of adaptation actions. A heat wave is an extended period of unusually high temperatures and often high humidity. Extreme heat can cause shock, dehydration and other acute illnesses, and worsen cardiovascular and respiratory diseases. There is now a mountain of evidence that climate change is increasing the occurrence of deadly heat waves. For instance, scientists have concluded that climate change has made the 2022 heat wave in India and Pakistan 30 times more likely, the 2019 heat wave in western Europe at least 10 times more likely, the 2019-20 heat wave in Australia that contributed to the devastating bushfires 10 times more likely, and that the extreme heat in the northwest US and Canada in 2021 would have been virtually impossible without climate change. For details, see for instance, the World Weather Attribution analyses.
Mexico & Central American migration crisis
Since the beginning of 2022, there has been a massive increase in the number of refugees, migrants, and returnees in transit by land northwards through Central America. People are mostly moving through irregular channels, and along the way face bureaucratic barriers, suffer accidents and injuries, face extortion and sexual violence or disappear and are separated from their families. Tragically, others are killed or die from diseases or the harsh environmental conditions. This Emergency Appeal supports the Red Cross Societies of Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala and Mexico to scale up humanitarian assistance and protection to 210,000 people along migratory routes.
Uganda: Population movement
Escalating conflict in eastern provinces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo has triggered a large-scale displacement of refugees across the border into Uganda. Tens of thousands of people have fled since late March 2022, many with limited or no possessions, and basic social services in the settlements are struggling to cope with the increased demand. Through this Emergency Appeal, the IFRC is supporting the Uganda Red Cross Society to scale up its support to refugees—specifically its provision ofshelter, essential household items, health care, and water and sanitation services.
Torrential rain and incessant downpours from upstream regions since mid-June 2022 have caused the worst flooding in living memory in north-eastern districts of Bangladesh.An estimated 7.2 million people have been affected, with a further 3.7 million people affected by monsoon flooding in northern districts. There is widespread damage to infrastructure, homes, water and sanitation facilities, croplands and fisheries. Through this Emergency Appeal, the IFRC is supporting the Bangladesh Red Crescent Society to provide affected people with safe water and sanitation facilities, shelter, cash assistance and health services.
Sri Lanka: Complex emergency
An economic crisis and a ban on synthetic fertiliser in Sri Lanka have sparked civil unrest and food insecurity across the country.Severe food shortages are expected within the coming months, along with shortages of fuel, cooking gas and medicines. Many people are resorting to emergency coping strategies, such as withdrawing their children from school or selling their assets. Through this Emergency Appeal, the IFRC is supporting the Sri Lanka Red Cross Society to provide livelihoods and basic needs assistance, as well as safe drinking water and hygiene services, to 500,000 of the most vulnerable people
Angola: Hunger crisis
Angola is facing its worst recorded drought in 40 years, with southern provinces experiencing the fifth consecutive year of drought conditions. The drought has led to poor harvests, depleted reserves, loss of livestock and rising food prices—with an estimated 1.58 million people now facing high levels of acute food insecurity. Through this Emergency Appeal, the IFRC is supporting the Angola Red Cross to save lives, reverse the deterioration of food security and nutrition, and improve the resilience of affected populations in the hardest hit areas.
Everyone Counts Report 2022