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IFRC Secretary General on the year ahead: "Hope in the midst of hopelessness"

04/02/2023 | Article

It’s easy to feel a sense of hopelessness these days – climate crises, people on the verge of starvation in parts of Africa, multiple wars, protracted conflicts, people having to leave their homes out of desperation, shameful cases of exclusion in many parts of the world, rising mental health crises, people not having basic access to water and sanitation. This list can go on and on. While these crises are affecting everyone, the marginalized, excluded, and last mile communities are bearing the brunt of these crises disproportionately. Some 43 years ago, I signed up to be a young volunteer of the Nepal Red Cross. I joined not knowing how my life would unfold and where this would lead. I didn’t fully understand then, but I do now – the mission and mandate of our IFRC network, and the fundamental principles that guide our work with a very simple vision--to make a positive difference in people’s lives. Three years ago, we didn’t know the scale of impact of a global pandemic, international armed conflict in the middle of Europe and all other global crises we have been responding to. In this context, let me share some of my reflections on the current state of play. Reflection on the IFRC’s mandate and relevance As the world grapples with “polycrisis”, our mandate becomes as relevant as ever, if not more. The IFRC is at the forefront of humanitarian efforts in times of disaster, crises, and other emergencies. By providing immediate assistance and long-term sustainable development programmes, the IFRC network puts people at the centre of vital, life-saving assistance. We work to strengthen the resilience of communities in vulnerable settings, ensuring they are better prepared for and better able to cope with our changing world. In a time of great global disparities in terms of access to services, we bridge the gap. The role of truly local organizations like our member National Societies is critical to reach the most disadvantaged sections of societies. Localization is fundamental as crises grow; but resources do not keep pace with them. Business as usual is not going to work. True empowerment of community organizations and decolonization of aid will be critical in 2023 and beyond. Reflection on our fundamental principles, particularly the principle of neutrality The threat to our principles, particularly the principle of neutrality, lies in the fact that the international armed conflict in Ukraine has taken on a much-heightened political dimension. This has placed great pressure on the Red Cross Red Crescent Movement. We must maintain a neutral stance and perform impartial aid operations, to ensure our principle of neutrality is observed. While we remain sensitive to the challenges emerging out of the conflict and we will be doing everything in our capacity to deliver on our mandate, it is essential that our fundamental principles remain the bedrock of our actions. Failing to do so will irreparably damage the notion of neutral, independent humanitarian action. Amid rapid changes in the global humanitarian landscape, one thing remains constant – that’s our fundamental principles. Our values and principles transcend all the divisions that exist in the world. Reflection on current trends We closely monitor the global trends that impact our work. Climate and Environmental crises have been at the forefront. Social issues like the erosion of trust, migration and displacement, inequality, global health and food crises are directly linked to our mandate. Economic issues like the cost-of-living crisis and energy crises will impact our work. Technological issues, like the opportunity created by digitalization as well as the risks arising from the digital divide and those linked to humanitarian data security, will have to be considered. We must also be mindful of the global political landscape and current lack of global political leadership able to deal with multiple crises. The international armed conflict in Ukraine will significantly impact the geopolitical landscape and will exacerbate the humanitarian situation across the globe. We must be humble enough to acknowledge that there is no humanitarian solution to most of these crises. There must be a political solution and we must support and advocate for the same. Reflection on our ambitions Our ambitions are simple as we deal with these trends. We will continue to be bold in our support to our membership both on humanitarian action and in building resilience. We will work harder to build a trustful relationship with our membership and governance structure. We will invest more in National Society transformations leveraging the power of youth and volunteers. Advancing gender and inclusion will require consistent push. We must do more to be a learning organization that continuously evolves. Within the family, we will continue to build mutually respectful movement cooperation. We will expand our humanitarian diplomacy efforts and further strengthen our highly professional partnership with all partners. Further building on the new operating model and new resourcing architecture, we will develop more inclusive IFRC wide approaches. We will accelerate our digitalization journey. We will continue to strengthen agility and accountability. Respectful workplace, issues of fraud and corruption, sexual exploitation, abuse and harassment, racism, and discrimination will be dealt with proactively and decisively. The world is full of daunting challenges. But it is also full of people and organizations committed to confront them and work together to bring about positive change. We are one of those organizations. We will lead from the front, working with our membership and their volunteers. We will be bold in our actions, but calm and composed in our approaches. There will of course be challenges along the way, but we will always move forward with integrity. We will have to be at our best when the challenges are the greatest. And we will have to always bring hope amid hopelessness.

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04/02/2023
IFRC Secretary General on the year ahead: "Hope in the midst of hopelessness"
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IFRC Secretary General on the year ahead: "Hope in the midst of hopelessness"
04/02/2023 | Article
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The world is not ready for the next pandemic, warns the IFRC

30/01/2023 | Press release

Geneva, 30 January 2023—No earthquake, drought or hurricane in recorded history has claimed more lives than the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the world’s largest disaster response network, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC). The shocking death toll—estimated at more than 6.5 million people—has inspired the humanitarian organization to take a deep dive into how countries can prepare for the next global health emergency. Two groundbreaking reports released by the IFRC today, the World Disasters Report and the Everyone Counts Report, offer insights into successes and challenges over the past three years—and make recommendations for how leaders can mitigate tragedies of this magnitude in the future. Jagan Chapagain, IFRC’s Secretary General, remarks: “The COVID-19 pandemic should be a wake-up call for the global community to prepare now for the next health crisis. Our recommendations to world leaders center around building trust, tackling inequality, and leveraging local actors and communities to perform lifesaving work. The next pandemic could be just around the corner; if the experience of COVID-19 won’t quicken our steps toward preparedness, what will?” The IFRC network reached more than 1.1 billion people over the past three years to help keep them safe from the virus. During that time, a theme that emerged repeatedly was the importance of trust. When people trusted safety messages, they were willing to comply with public health measures that sometimes separated them from their loved ones in order to slow the spread of the disease and save lives. Similarly, it was only possible to vaccinate millions of people in record time when most of them trusted that the vaccines were safe and effective. Those responding to crises cannot wait until the next time to build trust. It must be cultivated through genuinely two-way communication, proximity, and consistent support over time. In the course of their work, Red Cross and Red Crescent teams documented how the COVID-19 pandemic both thrived on and exacerbated inequalities. Poor sanitation, overcrowding, lack of access to health and social services, and malnutrition create conditions for diseases to spread faster and further. The world must address inequitable health and socio-economic vulnerabilities far in advance of the next crisis. In its Everyone Counts Report—which surveyed National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies from nearly every country in the world—the IFRC found that teams were able to quickly respond to the pandemic because they were already present in communities and many of them had engaged in preparedness efforts, had prior experience responding to epidemics, and were strong auxiliaries to their local authorities. “Community-based organizations are an integral part of pandemic preparedness and response. Local actors and communities, as frontline responders, have distinct but equally important roles to play in all phases of disease outbreak management. Their local knowledge needs to be leveraged for greater trust, access, and resilience,” states Mr. Chapagain. “It has been a brutal three years, but we are releasing this research and making recommendations in an act of hope: The global community can learn lessons and do justice to this tragedy by being better prepared for future health emergencies.” The World Disasters Report offers six essential actions to prepare more effectively for future public health emergencies. The Everyone Counts Report highlights the need for accurate and relevant data in pandemic preparedness and response. Both are available to practitioners, leaders, and the public. Note to editors: Photos and b-roll available here Media contact: In Geneva: Jenelle Eli, +1 202 603 6803 [email protected]

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30/01/2023
The world is not ready for the next pandemic, warns the IFRC
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The world is not ready for the next pandemic, warns the IFRC
30/01/2023 | Press release
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Malawi: Red Cross scales up response to worst cholera outbreak in two decades

25/01/2023 | Press release

Malawi, 25 January 2023—Malawi is currently facing its worst cholera outbreak in two decades, with over 29,000 cases reported and more than 900 people dead. The Malawi Red Cross, in partnership with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and in-country partners—Danish Red Cross-led consortium and Swiss Red Cross—is scaling up its cholera response to assist over two million people. Since the first recorded case in February 2022, cases have continued to spread, with all 29 districts affected. Cholera is now putting over 10 million people at risk, including more than five million children. “Malawi Red Cross Society is committed to continue supporting the Government of Malawi in responding to the cholera outbreak and other health emergencies. We are grateful to the IFRC and other Movement partners for continued finance and technical assistance to the MRCS Cholera response plan,” said McBain Kanongodza, Secretary General for the Malawi Red Cross Society. According to the Malawi Ministry of Health’s cholera update on 22 January 2023, over 29,364 cases and 960 fatalities were reported, leaving the fatality rate at 3.27 per cent, which is considerably higher than the acceptable rate of less than 1 per cent set by WHO. The Malawi Red Cross Society (MRCS) is already providing lifesaving treatment at the community level by administering Oral Rehydration Therapy. Volunteers ensure that water supplies are safe and that sanitation facilities are working. They also go door-to-door to raise awareness on preventing the disease from spreading. With the rainy season underway, it is crucial that people take precautions to protect themselves and their families. “We have been monitoring the developments on the ground since the first cases, and we are deeply concerned that this outbreak has taken a foothold in every corner of Malawi. We need to support the joint efforts of the MOH and Malawi Red Cross in their response to this devastating situation. As the outbreak worsens, partnerships are crucial to ensure lives are saved,” said John Roche, Head of IFRC’s Delegation for Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe. The IFRC and its membership are launching an Emergency Appeal seeking 5.2 million Swiss francs, which will help the Malawi Red Cross reach a further 1,385,391 people in need of assistance. Malawi Red Cross and its partners with the IFRC aim to target 15 affected districts, with the core objectives being to prevent and control the spread of the outbreak, reduce morbidity and mortality due to cholera and improve the availability of safe water and sanitation facilities, through continued support to communities and district health offices. For more information, please contact: In Lilongwe: Felix Washon, +265 999 95 57 21, [email protected] In Harare: Ella Mcsharry, +263 78 689 3350, [email protected] In Nairobi: Euloge Ishimwe, +254 731 688 613, [email protected] In Geneva: Marie Claudet, +1 202 999 8689, [email protected]

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25/01/2023
Malawi: Red Cross scales up response to worst cholera outbreak in two decades
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Malawi: Red Cross scales up response to worst cholera outbreak in two decades
25/01/2023 | Press release
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Last year ‘eighth in a row’ of temperatures above pre-industrial level, threatening Paris target of 1.5°C

13/01/2023 | Article

This article was originally posted on the Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre website here. The past eight years were the warmest on record globally, fuelled by “ever-rising emissions and accumulated heat”, according to six international datasets consolidated by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and explained yesterday. The WMO says the global temperature last year was 1.15°C above an 1850–1900 baseline, and 2022 was the eighth year in a row that it reached at least 1°C above pre-industrial levels, apress releasefrom Geneva said. “The likelihood of – temporarily – breaching the 1.5°C limit of the Paris Agreement is increasing with time,” it added. The persistence of a coolingLa Niña, now in its third year, means that 2022 was not the warmest on record, but at least the sixth warmest nevertheless. The WMO work shows a ten-year global average to 2022 of 1.14°C above the 19th century baseline, compared to the IPCC’s most recent figure 1.09°C for the decade to 2020, indicating that long-term warming continues. WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas said yesterday: “In 2022, we faced several dramatic weather disasters which claimed far too many lives and livelihoods and undermined health, food, energy and water security and infrastructure. “Large areas of Pakistan were flooded, with major economic losses and human casualties. Record-breaking heatwaves have been observed in China, Europe, North and South America [and] drought in the Horn of Africa threatens a humanitarian catastrophe. “There is a need to enhance preparedness for such extreme events and to ensure that we meet the UN target of early warnings for all in the next five years.” The WMO said its provisionalState of the Global Climate in 2022report speaks of “record levels of heat-trapping greenhouse gases in the atmosphere”, continuing to cause extreme heatwaves, drought and devastating floods, and affecting millions of people. Responding to the latest figures on global temperature, IFRC Secretary General Jagan Chapagain said: “People around the globe are feeling the effects of our warming climate, and scientific data continues to reinforce this terrifying reality. Inclusive climate action, led by those most at risk, is key to combating the climate crisis. "The window to implement life-saving adaptation measures is slowly closing, but there is still time to help communities adapt to climate-related disasters, including investments in early warning systems that reach everyone.” Last September, the IFRC unveiled aOne Fund, Two Pillarsapproach for its Disaster Response Emergency Fund, reflecting an increased commitment to anticipatory action. Temperature rankings of individual years should be considered in the long-term context since the differences between years can be marginal, the WMO press release added. “Since the 1980s, each decade has been warmer than the previous one. This is expected to continue.”

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13/01/2023
Last year ‘eighth in a row’ of temperatures above pre-industrial level, threatening Paris target of 1.5°C
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Last year ‘eighth in a row’ of temperatures above pre-industrial level, threatening Paris target of 1.5°C
13/01/2023 | Article
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Tonga: One year since earthquake and tsunami, homes being rebuilt

13/01/2023 | Press release

Nukualofa/Suva, 13 January 2023 – One year since the devastating earthquake and tsunami that cut off Tonga from the rest of the world, homes are being rebuilt for over 200 displaced families. The complex process of rebuilding shattered communities, devastated from the triple disasters of the Volcano, its resultant Tsunami and then a first wave of the COVID Pandemic, has also included cleaning water supplies polluted with ash, re-establishing lost livelihoods and providing cash assistance for people with disabilities and those displaced from their damaged homes. Tonga Red Cross Society has been working with a variety of partners – including the Tongan government to support displaced households, some of whom – one year later are still seeking shelter with families, friends and in church halls. Secretary-General of Tonga Red Cross Society, Sione Taumoefolau, said: "The disaster continues to make its presence felt in the lives of all of us in Tonga, but especially those on the outer islands, where communities were flattened, and fragile livelihoods destroyed. "We must continue to strengthen our efforts to help the most vulnerable among us, many of whom are still without homes. "Working alongside our Red Cross partners, we are determined to stand with the most affected communities as they undertake the long process of rebuilding their lives." Tonga Red Cross has been distributing cash voucher assistance to most affected households both in Tongatapu, and outer island groups of Ha’apai and ‘Eua. Teams have also been working with a variety of stakeholder groups to assist people with disabilities, including families and students of ‘Ofa Tui moe Amanaki disability school. In an innovative pilot project of Tonga Red Cross working alongside the government and the Nomuka community, a cash for work project saw equipment and financial support provided to assist community members in cleaning debris from their fresh-water lake. With access to clean and safe drinking water a priority, Red Cross has also undertaken a number of water projects, including the installation of water filters in affected communities. Tonga Red Cross has also been providing much needed psychological first aid training and as a result - it is only just now, one year on, that people are beginning to talk more freely about the events of that day and revealing some of the trauma they felt and how they are coping. Head of the IFRC Pacific Office, Katie Greenwood, said: “A disaster of this scale requires a coordinated effort between local, national and international actors. Our Red Cross partners have been an important part of this, coordinating closely with response and recovery efforts at the community level. “Given the magnitude of this disaster, it will continue to take some time to rebuild and get things back to normal. IFRC will be right there with Tonga Red Cross every step of the way.” For more information or to arrange a media interview, contact: In Suva: Soneel Ram, +679 9983 688, [email protected]g

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13/01/2023
Tonga: One year since earthquake and tsunami, homes being rebuilt
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Tonga: One year since earthquake and tsunami, homes being rebuilt
13/01/2023 | Press release
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