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“Hunger is one of the most undignified sufferings of humanity”: Tackling food insecurity in Africa and beyond

05/07/2022 | Article

Food insecurity is not a new phenomenon. But the recent escalation in severity and geographical spread of chronic hunger is serious cause for alarm. The hunger crisis is most starkly felt on the African continent, where many regions, notably the Horn of Africa, Sahel and Lake Chad regions, are experiencing the worst food crisis in decades. Millions of people are facing hunger across Africa—prompting the IFRC to launch Emergency Appeals for hunger crises in Nigeria, Somalia, Kenya, Ethiopia, Niger and Angola all within the past year. Back in May, I met some of those affected whilevisiting drought-affected areas in Marsabit County, Kenya—where levels of malnutrition are among the highest on the continent. I saw first-hand the level of suffering caused by a severe lack of rainfall over four consecutive seasons, coupled with pre-existing vulnerability in parts of the County. Children, young mothers and the elderly are most affected and facing near depletion of their livelihoods. Although this hunger crisis is, to a large extent, climate-induced, it is also driven by the effects of widespread locust swarms, disease outbreaks, conflict and insecurity, and economic slowdowns—including those triggered by COVID-19. Furthermore, the ongoing conflict in Ukraine is disrupting the global trade of food, fertilizers and oil products, with prices of agricultural products reaching record highs. Eastern Africa, for instance, gets 90 per cent of its imported wheat from Russia and Ukraine (source: WFP), and the conflict has led to significant shortages. The Ukraine crisis has also diverted both the attention and resources from other crises. While Ukraine is an extremely worrying crisis, affecting millions, we cannot afford to lose sight of other urgent crises around the world. Not least of which is the rapidly deteriorating food security situation in many parts of Africa. The clock is ticking and soon it may be too late to avert a widespread tragedy. So the question that should concern us all is: what can we do, as a humanitarian collective, to avoid the tragic history of the early 1980s repeating itself? We need urgent and massive action to scale up life-saving assistance to millions of people on the verge of collapsing, but also to decisively address the root causes of this crisis through longer term commitments. The IFRC has an important and unique role to play. With our unparalleled community reach and expertise, our 100+ years of humanitarian experience, our ability to act both locally and globally, and our National Societies’ special status as auxiliaries to public authorities—we can turn this tide. But we need the resources to do so. Our collective immediate priority is to muster life-saving support, within and outside our IFRC network, for the next six months—paying particular attention to the Horn of Africa, Central Sahel and other hot spots across the continent. During this emergency phase, we will focus our support on the things we know from experience will make the most difference to affected people’s lives and livelihoods: food assistance, cash programmes and nutrition support. At the same time, we will develop longer-term programming, together with interested National Societies, to address the root causes of food insecurity. We will build on our previous successes and work in support of governments’ plans and frameworks to restore the resilience of the most impoverished communities, including displaced populations. Everything we do will be underpinned by solid data and meaningful community engagement to ensure that our response is evidence-based and tailor-made. Hunger is one of the most undignified sufferings of humanity. To alleviate human suffering, we must rise to this challenge through collective mobilization and action—both in the immediate and long-term. We simply cannot afford to do too little, too late. --- Since 2020: The IFRC network reached 4.8 million people with food assistance and non-food items, combining all humanitarian response operations (Emergency Appeals, DREFs and our COVID-19 response) More than 20 African National Societies have been implementing food security-related projects as part of their regular programming 33 African National Societies have increased their capacity to deliver cash and voucher assistance Click here to learn more about the IFRC’s work in food security and livelihoods. You may also be interested in reading: 'To beat Africa’s hunger crises, start with long-term planning' -opinion piece in Devex by IFRC Regional Director for Africa, Mohammed Omer Mukhier-Abuzein 'Because of hunger, I am here' - photo story from the Red Cross Red Crescent Magazine about Angolan refugees fleeing to Namibia due to the drought and resulting lack of food and water And scroll down to learn more about our active Emergency Appeals for food insecurity in Africa and beyond.

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05/07/2022
“Hunger is one of the most undignified sufferings of humanity”: Tackling food insecurity in Africa and beyond
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“Hunger is one of the most undignified sufferings of humanity”: Tackling food insecurity in Africa and beyond
05/07/2022
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"He called them hope plants": Supporting people's mental health in the Ukraine crisis

01/07/2022 | Article

A simple search for “Kharkiv” on the internet today yields scenes of grey ash covering splintered buildings. This is how much of the world now sees Ukraine. Far from this perception are locals’ memories of crackling fireplaces and walks under the trees—so many of which now stand lifeless. But at least one small clump of spring green remains—a few little plants in one Kharkiv resident’s back yard. The only ones to survive raining missiles in a garden once lush and vibrant. “He called them hope plants,” says Ana Blanco, one of 20 emergency responders from the Spanish Red Cross working in Zahony, Hungary. “He and his wife arrived at Zahony train station with two of them, having travelled all this way from Kharkiv. And every day I’d see them take such great care and pride ensuring they stayed alive on the windowsill of the shelter.” For this man, these plants are his token of home. And while they may not be the most practical thing to carry with him on his journey, Ana understands they are vitally important to his mental wellbeing. Having been an emergency responder with the IFRC since 2011, Ana knows that survivors of disasters and conflicts can be resilient. She’s seen it with her own eyes while providing emergency relief in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria, and water and sanitation support after the 2015 Nepal earthquake. But this doesn’t mean hope always flourishes on its own. That’s what brought Ana from her home in Valencia to Zahony—her experience teaching her that supporting the mental health of people affected by disaster or conflict is just as important as supporting their physical health. She came with 20 fellow health specialists from the Spanish Red Cross to work alongside the Hungarian Red Cross, ensuring their teams have what they need to meet people’s immediate mental and physical health needs. And to help set up a health clinic in Zahony so they can provide effective longer-term support too. This is not Ana’s first time supporting refugees. Twice, she has worked in camps in Greece helping refugees express their emotions through art therapy. Her eyes light up as she speaks, “It was remarkable. Even though there was a huge language barrier, we relied on universal ways of communicating.” Whether it’s through creating art, or delicately tending to small plants on a windowsill—everyone has something to say, because everyone has something to feel. And these feelings need somewhere to go. “I grew up in a family that has always helped people. I feel something is missing in me when I see a crisis and I can’t go – if I’m not available to respond. It’s an earthquake inside of me,” Ana explains. It’s this innate desire to help others, to be kind to others—shared by so many millions of our Red Cross and Red Crescent family—that has motivated Ana during her time in Hungary. For many weeks she’s worked patiently to get to know so many of the people staying in Zahony and build trust with them, helping them to open up. Speaking about another man she met early on who would sit alone on a bunk bed in the corner of the shelter, Ana says: “He didn’t want to go outside when I first met him. He’d been traveling alone, the possibility of reaching a friend abroad growing scarce.” “Every so often, I’d say to him, ‘hope to see you at the train station!’ ‘Hope to see you around for a meal soon!’” And within a few days, she saw him emerge from the dark and step outside, interacting with her and the others. On her last day in Zahony, Ana goes out of her way to help connect him with a helper on the other end of the phone. She finishes her mission knowing that for millions, home now looks very different to the one they once had. Many do not know where their journeys will end. Ana holds a truth that so many disaster responders keep close to their hearts: we can never guarantee someone will be okay or that everyone will make it.But we do whatever we can to nurture seeds of hope, so that one day the lives of people affected by crises such as that in Ukraine can fully bloom again. -- Click here to learn more about the IFRC's Emergency Appeal for Ukraine and impacted countries.If you would like to donate to support our work responding to this crisis, please click here. You can also visit our mental health page to learn more about the IFRC's work providing mental health and psychosocial support around the world.

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01/07/2022
"He called them hope plants": Supporting people's mental health in the Ukraine crisis
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"He called them hope plants": Supporting people's mental health in the Ukraine crisis
01/07/2022
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Millions in Bangladesh impacted by one of the worst floodings ever seen

28/06/2022 | Press release

Kuala Lumpur/Dhaka, 28 June 2022 -Record-breaking floods in Bangladesh have wreaked havoc as an estimated 7.2 million people have been affected and are in desperate need of shelter and emergency relief items in the north-eastern region of the country. From early in the month of June, torrential rain and upstream water have completely submerged around 94 per cent of the town of Sunamganj and 84 per cent of Sylhet districts, in northeastern Bangladesh, bordering the Meghalaya state of India. Parts of Meghalaya have experienced the highest amount of rainfall in decades, which has led to overflowing of large river systems running between India and Bangladesh and completely swallowing surrounding areas. Bangladesh Red Crescent Society Secretary General Kazi Shofiqul Azam said: “We have never seen this sort of flooding in our living memories in that region. Hundreds of thousands of people took refuge as their houses went under water and almost all their neighborhoods inundated. Large parts of Sunamganj and Sylhet were completely cut off due to severe disruption of road communication and power cuts. “Our volunteer teams were on the ground helping people with much needed dry foods, cooked food, safe drinking water. Bangladesh Red Crescent has launched a strategy involving USD 10 million to carry out relief and recovery operations in the affected areas.” While Sylhet and Sunamganj have almost been cut off from other parts of the country, multiple districts nearby including Netrokona, Kishoreganj are also experiencing floods. Bangladesh Red Crescent Society teams are also providing food package to last at least two weeks, heath care services through mobile medical teams, hygiene and dignity kits and tarpaulins and jerrycans. The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) haslaunched an emergency appeal for CHF 7.5 million (USD 7.8 million) to support the Bangladesh Red Crescent to scale up and expand reach of its localized response and recovery efforts to prevent and alleviate the suffering of 300,000 people affected by the recent floods. IFRC Head of Bangladesh Country Delegation Sanjeev Kafley said: “Within just a month, Sylhet and Sunamganj have been flooded and the scale of devastation this time is so much more than the previous ones. We are scaling up our operations alongside Bangladesh Red Crescent due the urgency of the situation. The greater focus is on the urgent needs of the affected population for first three months by expanding and scaling up the response of Bangladesh Red Crescent. After that, recovery assistance will also be provided ensuring that the affected population will self-recover from the crisis in a sustainable way and strengthen their resilience to impending disasters.” For more information or to arrange an interview, contact: In Dhaka: Mahmudul Hasan, +880 1716 103333, [email protected] Raqibul Alam, +880 1714069707, [email protected] In Kuala Lumpur: Rachel Punitha, +60 3 9207 5700, [email protected]

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28/06/2022
Millions in Bangladesh impacted by one of the worst floodings ever seen
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Millions in Bangladesh impacted by one of the worst floodings ever seen
28/06/2022
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Red Cross and Red Crescent leaders commit to accelerate efforts to tackle rising humanitarian challenges

23/06/2022 | Press release

Geneva, 23 June 2022 - The Council of delegates of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement concluded today in Geneva with commitments from Red Cross and Red Crescent leaders and youth representatives from around the world, to work together and scale-up efforts to take urgent action on a range of critical humanitarian issues. Representatives of 192 National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) passed a series of resolutions to address a range of humanitarian challenges, including; the growing existential threats posed by the climate crisis; the escalating migration crisis; the devastating impacts of war in cities and the need to continue efforts to work towards the elimination of nuclear weapons. "Urban warfare has a devastating humanitarian impact, including the appallingly high number of civilian deaths, the physical and mental suffering, the destruction of homes and critical civilian infrastructure, the disruption to essential services and the widespread displacement of people. We have seen that sad reality playing out in Libya, Syria, Ukraine and elsewhere. The Red Cross and Red Crescent must mobilise all its influence and resources to meet the challenges that lie ahead,’ said ICRC President Peter Maurer. ‘To be clear: the consequences of urban conflicts are not inevitable. They are the result of the behaviour of the parties fighting in these environments and we call for international humanitarian law to be upheld as an urgent priority’. IFRC President Francesco Rocca said: “How we work to tackle and mitigate against the impacts of climate change will define our work, not just for the next few years, but for decades to come. “All over the world, our volunteers and staff are working with people in their communities to help them adapt to the climate crisis and, frankly, they are demonstrating greater readiness, eagerness, and leadership than the majority of our global political leaders. We need action from them, not more words. And now. “The same goes for the international migrant crisis. The Red Cross Red Crescent Movement speaks of leaving no person behind, of solidarity, and humanity. But, all over the world, we see world leaders failing to take the plight of migrants seriously enough and too easily prepared to neglect the human rights of those fleeing conflict, hunger, persecution, and, of course, those parts of the world where climate change has already done untold damage to their communities.” Francesco Rocca, IFRC President, was re-elected to serve a second four-year term in office at the IFRC’s General Assembly on 19 June. For more information on resolutions adopted at the Council of delegates is available here For other information and interview requests, contact: IFRC: Benoit Carpentier, Tel: +41 792 132 413 Email: [email protected] Paul Scott -+44 (0)7834 525650 email: [email protected] ICRC ICRC: Ewan Watson - m. +41 (0)79 244 6470 email: [email protected] ICRC: Crystal Wells - m. +41 (0)79 642 8056 email: [email protected] For further information about the statutory meetings please visit rcrcconference.org

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23/06/2022
Red Cross and Red Crescent leaders commit to accelerate efforts to tackle rising humanitarian challenges
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Red Cross and Red Crescent leaders commit to accelerate efforts to tackle rising humanitarian challenges
23/06/2022
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Deadly earthquake hits crises-riddled Afghanistan

22/06/2022 | Press release

The Afghan Red Crescent, together with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), has mobilised to support communities affected by a deadly 5.9 magnitude earthquake which struck the south-East region of Afghanistan early morning Wednesday 22 June. Based on initial reports, at least 1000 people have been killed, with the number of casualties expected to increase as rescuers reach hardest-hit villages where people remain trapped in rubble. Remote districts in the provinces of Khost and Paktika have been most affected. Afghan Red Crescent staff and volunteers from affected communities were among the first responders working alongside local authorities and other humanitarian organisations. Additional teams have been deployed from Kabul and neighbouring provinces to boost the speed of assistance. Furthermore, food supplies, non-food items and medicines that were in stock have been redirected to areas hardest hit by the quake to address immediate needs. Dr Mohammad Nabi Burhan, Secretary General of Afghan Red Crescent, said: “This latest earthquake is another horrific tragedy for Afghanistan, as if there were not enough. It struck in a grim backdrop where more than 50 per cent of our people are in dire need of humanitarian assistance due a combination of catastrophic crises.” “It is heartbreaking to see such human suffering among people who were already struggling to recover from effects of decades of conflict, severe drought, flooding, and extreme economic hardship among other shocks.” Afghan Red Crescent trucks with relief items and medicines as well as ambulances have been dispatched to the affected areas. These will complement mobile health teams that were already operational in Paktika, of which some have been redirected to address immediate needs resulting from the earthquake. Necephor Mghendi, IFRC’s Head of Delegation for Afghanistan, said: “Local responders and institutions have played a critical role in saving lives of thousands who would otherwise still be trapped in rubble. Strengthening local preparedness capacity is the surest and quickest way to an effective response." “We only recently revised our Emergency Appeal to increase emergency relief, health services and recovery assistance in almost all province of Afghanistan which are battling a cocktail of catastrophic humanitarian crises. Following the deadly earthquake, we will have to scale up further our operations in Khost and Paktika.” The IFRC has released 750,000 Swiss francs from its Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF) in support of a timely response by the Afghan Red Crescent. Increased global support and solidarity to deliver humanitarian assistance is needed. As part of its ongoing support, the IFRC is urgently appealing to the international community for 90 million Swiss francs to support the Afghan Red Crescent to deliver emergency relief, health services and recovery assistance to more than 1 million people in the provinces hit by multiple crises. This includes an extra 10 million Swiss francs to address the needs wrought by the quake. For more information or to arrange interviews: In Geneva: Benoit Matsha-Carpentier, Director A.I, Communications Department, Mob: +41 (0)79 213 24 13, Email: [email protected] In Asia/Pacific: Rachel Punitha, Manager A.I., Communications, Mob: +60 19 791 3830, Email: [email protected]

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22/06/2022
Deadly earthquake hits crises-riddled Afghanistan
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Deadly earthquake hits crises-riddled Afghanistan
22/06/2022
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