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WFP and IFRC join forces to strengthen response to anticipated climate shocks in MENA

10/08/2022 | Press release

Dubai, 10 August 2022–The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) and The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) signed a regional Memorandum of Understanding to support joint advocacy, capacity development, and resource mobilization for the coordinated national-level implementation of anticipatory action in response to climate shocks in the Middle East and North Africa region. The signing took place at the conclusion of an event, “Road to COP27: Anticipatory Action Milestones and Way Forward in MENA”, that was hosted by the International Humanitarian City (IHC), Dubai, United Arab Emirates, and attended by high-level speakers and representatives from the UAE government, Ministry of Climate Change and Environment, WFP, IFRC, Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre and national societies, regional and international humanitarian organisations including UNDRR, FAO, Start Network, REAP. The event emphasized the ongoing importance of acting early ahead of climate-related disasters, through anticipatory action. Anticipatory action is an effective way of mitigating the worst consequences of predictable climate risks, which are expected to become more frequent and intense because of climate change and conflict in the MENA region. “In a region where climate hazards such as droughts, floods, and heatwaves are increasing humanitarian needs, anticipatory action aims to reduce or mitigate the impact of these hazards on the most vulnerable people,” said Mageed Yahia, WFP Representative to the GCC. “We are grateful for the strong representation from the UAE in this event today, an important ally in the quest to make the humanitarian system as anticipatory as possible,” he added. Over the last few years, WFP and IFRC have been making progress in setting the scene for an anticipatory action (AA) approach in the MENA region for acting earlier ahead of disasters. “Let us not forget that COP27 goals and vision are mitigation, adaptation, finance, and collaboration. Today we are addressing these four main elements, as Anticipatory Action allows for the mitigation and adaptation of climate change impacts,” said IFRC MENA Deputy Regional Director, Rania Ahmad. “This collaboration between IFRC and WFP will allow for increased sharing of experiences and financing and make the most vulnerable populations better prepared and enhance their resilience.” During the event, WFP and the Overseas Development Institute (ODI) also launched the “Anticipatory Action in the MENA Region: State of Play and Accelerating Action” report, supported by the Swedish government, which highlights the state of anticipatory action in the region, and its potential to help avoid and reduce the impacts of disasters. Regional coordination and collaboration across all stakeholders will be necessary to complement efforts and engagements to scale up the anticipatory actions agenda in the region with tangible results. To support this, IFRC and WFP are establishing the “MENA Anticipatory Action regional community of practice” as a space for technical and advocacy coordination, collaboration, learning exchange, and capacity strengthening on anticipatory action and acting earlier ahead of disasters in the region. The initiative will bring together UN agencies, the Red Cross Red Crescent movement, as well as international organizations, governments, NGOs, the public and private sector, and academia, to coordinate and work together to effectively scale up and deliver anticipatory action programmes as the threat of climate shocks continues to grow. For more information please contact: Malak Atkeh, IFRC/GCC, [email protected],+971 564780874 Zeina Habib, WFP/Gulf, [email protected], +971 52 4724971 Abeer Etefa, WFP/MENA, [email protected], +20 1066634352 Reem Nada, WFP/MENA, [email protected], +20 1066634522

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10/08/2022
WFP and IFRC join forces to strengthen response to anticipated climate shocks in MENA
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WFP and IFRC join forces to strengthen response to anticipated climate shocks in MENA
10/08/2022
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Niger: Urgent action needed as hunger grips communities

03/08/2022 | Article

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.

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03/08/2022
Niger: Urgent action needed as hunger grips communities
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Niger: Urgent action needed as hunger grips communities
03/08/2022
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IFRC: 210,000 migrants need urgent life-saving assistance and protection in Central America and Mexico

01/08/2022 | Press release

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, maria.lang[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.

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01/08/2022
IFRC: 210,000 migrants need urgent life-saving assistance and protection in Central America and Mexico
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IFRC: 210,000 migrants need urgent life-saving assistance and protection in Central America and Mexico
01/08/2022
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Sri Lanka on brink of humanitarian crisis

21/07/2022 | Press release

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]

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21/07/2022
Sri Lanka on brink of humanitarian crisis
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Sri Lanka on brink of humanitarian crisis
21/07/2022
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Healing the invisible scars of the Ukraine conflict: IFRC and European Union launch mental health project

18/07/2022 | Article

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.

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18/07/2022
Healing the invisible scars of the Ukraine conflict: IFRC and European Union launch mental health project
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Healing the invisible scars of the Ukraine conflict: IFRC and European Union launch mental health project
18/07/2022
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