| Press release
Americas: IFRC urges governments to save migrants' lives at High Level Regional Meeting on Migration
There are nearly 73.5 million migrants across the American continent - over a quarter of the migrants worldwide - and we continue to see unprecedented migration flows in the region. In 2020 alone, approximately 4.7 million people were displaced on the continent due to disasters - the highest level seen in 10 years. In Panama, just last year, some 134,000 people crossed through the perilous Darien Gap – over 22,000 of whom were children.
Within the framework of the High-level Meeting on Migration called by the Panamanian authorities on April 20, 2022, IFRC Regional Director for the Americas, Martha Keays, said:
''States, humanitarian organizations, international agencies and civil society in the Americas face an enormous challenge: protect the dignity and address the humanitarian needs of the most vulnerable and marginalized migrants who continue to face trafficking, discrimination, violence, and limited access to essential services and protection mechanisms.
The IFRC and its membership, the Red Cross National Societies of the continent, as auxiliaries to the public authorities, call upon the governments of all countries across the Americas to facilitate the work of the Red Cross to address the needs of migrants and people on the move in the Americas, irrespective of status, in keeping with our mandate as the world’s largest humanitarian network.
Over the past few years, thousands of Red Cross volunteers have provided millions of migrants in 17 countries across the Americas with essential services, including emergency and maternal healthcare, psychosocial support, water, hygiene and sanitation, access to information, and COVID-19 prevention and treatment.
However, our experience and local reach tell us that the work is not over and there is still a titanic challenge ahead of us. Push factors such as the devastating socioeconomic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, the climate crisis, continuing political crises, and disasters such as the recent hurricanes Eta and Iota and the earthquake in Haiti, all have increased and will continue to increase population movements while exacerbating existing vulnerabilities.
''We urge governments to save lives, ensure access for migrants to essential services, scale up support to persons at risk of displacement related to disasters and the climate crisis, and include migrants and refugees in all aspects of society. It is a humanitarian imperative and a shared regional responsibility to ensure that no one is left behind.”
| Press release
Philippines: New data reveals Typhoon Rai wrecked 1.5 million houses
Kuala Lumpur/Manila, 25 January 2022 – New assessments reveal the full extent of Super Typhoon Rai’s devastation when it slammed into the Philippines a little over a month ago, with the storm destroying or damaging a staggering 1.5 million houses, more than any other typhoon in recent decades.
Philippine Red Cross is ramping up its shelter support by transporting table saws, chainsaws and generators to areas hardest hit by the typhoon, including Cebu, Bohol, Palawan, Siargao and Dinagat islands.
The equipment is enabling Red Cross carpenters and trained volunteers to transform millions of fallen coconut trees into coco lumber to rebuild safer and stronger homes in the worst-affected areas.
Carpenters are training local people in safer house construction, to provide vital wages for families who lost their livelihoods, including the agricultural and fishing equipment they relied upon to earn an income.
Philippine Red Cross Chairman Richard Gordon said:
“This is a much bigger disaster than the world realised a month ago. People who relied on farming, fishing and tourism can’t earn an income now. Millions of people don’t have a roof over their heads.
"Red Cross is supporting 30,000 families with roofing materials like corrugated iron sheets and tarpaulins to protect them from the sun and rain, but we need greater international support to meet the enormous need for safer and stronger homes for millions of people.
“The typhoon comes in the middle of a pandemic and a political campaign, which draw attention away from what truly is a catastrophe. This must not become forgotten tomorrow morning.”
IFRC Head of Philippine Country Office Alberto Bocanegra said:
“It’s a little over one month since Typhoon Rai slammed into the Philippines, yet millions of people still urgently need humanitarian support, including homes, clean water supplies and healthcare.
“Assessment data reveals that this Super Typhoon has caused enormous devastation, destroying or damaging more homes than any storm in recent decades.
“Filipinos are tough, and they are rebuilding, with support from Philippine Red Cross and other agencies, but more must be done to help people rebuild their shattered homes.”
Philippine Red Cross has been on the ground since the super typhoon hit and has already reached 36,000 people with emergency shelter support, including toolkits, construction materials and tarpaulins to help people set up temporary shelters and start rebuilding. Emergency teams are providing kitchen sets, sleeping kits, pillows, mattresses, bedsheets, blankets and clothing.
Longer-term support is required to enable families to rebuild their homes safely, particularly those in vulnerable circumstances, living on isolated islands and in remote or hard to reach areas.
IFRC co-leads the Shelter Cluster Philippines with the Government of the Philippines to assess the typhoon’s impact on households, coordinating and prioritising emergency shelter work with all partners.
The International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is appealing for CHF 20 million to support more than 400,000 people over 24 months. A top priority includes assisting people to rebuild safer shelters, including emergency housing materials and essential items, replacement of destroyed houses, and legal support on housing, land and property issues.
For more information, contact: IFRC Asia Pacific Office: Antony Balmain, +60 12 230 845, [email protected]
IFRC Philippine Delegation: Karina Coates, +61 (0) 404 086 006, [email protected]
| Press release
Red Cross Red Crescent Mediterranean National Societies to tackle cross-cutting migration issues
Sarajevo/Geneva, 2 April 2019 – More than 150 Red Cross Red Crescent delegates from 23 countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea are meeting in Sarajevo this week to discuss approaches to aiding vulnerable migrants and the communities receiving them.Hosted by the Red Cross Society of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Centre for the Cooperation in the Mediterranean (CCM), the meeting’s theme is “Standing for Humanity”. The focus on will be on the safety and protection of migrants, improving social inclusion, preventing trafficking and exploitation, mobilizing more volunteer assistance and the National Societies’ role in implementing the recently adopted Global Compacts on refugees and migration.“While our main focus is assistance for migrants, the Red Cross also assists the host communities,” said Rajko Lazic, Secretary General of the Red Cross Society of Bosnia and Herzegovina. “It was not long ago that our people experienced what it means to be a refugee, and some are still displaced in their own country and in dire need. We seek to balance assistance for both populations.”Maria Alcázar Castilla, spokesperson for the Centre for Cooperation in the Mediterranean (CCM) said the humanitarian issues faced by the Red Cross Red Crescent National Societies in the region are interlinked, so common analysis and approaches are needed.“The Mediterranean region is facing multiple humanitarian challenges - due to unrest and violence, the ongoing flow of vulnerable migrants, economic crises and climate change impacts. The conference intends to reaffirm the urgency of principled humanitarian action, promote humanitarian access and reinforce the absolute necessity of placing the safety and needs of people at the heart of our action,” she said.The President of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), Francesco Rocca will also address the conference.“Every human being, especially people fleeing conflict and insecurity, should have unhindered access to aid and also to information, at all phases of their journeys. Every human being has the right to protection, health care, education and social services” said President Rocca. “Human dignity should be respected and protected, regardless of their legal status.”Migrant arrivals in the Mediterranean region and other areas of Europe usually rise during spring and summer months.
The 13th Mediterranean Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies closes with the adoption of the Sarajevo Declaration
Red Cross and Red Crescent leaders in the Mediterranean have reaffirmed their commitments embodied in the Sarajevo Declaration, which set out their priorities across the region for the coming four years.By fostering the dialogue among the Mediterranean National Societies and responding to the common humanitarian challenges, the Declaration reflects as key priorities: Migration, Social Inclusion, Raising awareness on Trafficking in Human Beings, Youth Engagement, Women’s leadership, and Climate Change.These were the main outcomes of the 13th Mediterranean Conference, participated by more than 130 humanitarian professionals and volunteers from 21 Mediterranean National Societies and Movement partners, hosted in Sarajevo by the Red Cross Society of Bosnia and Herzegovina.“We have a lot of challenges in common,” said Francesco Rocca, President of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC). “Now the focus is on migration, but this region is also prone to natural disasters, living the consequences of the climate change. So, it’s very important that we seek, discuss and find common strategies to improve the lives of our communities.”„It’s the first time our National Society hosted such a large-scale international event,” said Hasan Topalovic, President of the Assembly of the Red Cross Society of Bosnia and Herzegovina. ”The Conference had the spirit of mutual understanding and trust, and we will continue working on the commitments with endurance and dedication.”
COVID-19: Scaling up testing and strengthening national health systems with EU support
Since the beginning of the pandemic, National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies in Europe have been supporting their countries’ health authorities in the fight against COVID-19 through a wide range of services to help curb the spread of the virus and ensure nobody is left behind.
In Austria, Germany, Greece, Italy, Malta, Portugal and Spain, National Societies expanded mobile testing capacities thanks to a EUR 35.5 million partnership between the European Commission and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC). The European Commission financed this project as part of its Emergency Support Instrument to boost testing capacities and provide immediate support to Member States. The project’s success – it trained and equipped more testing teams as initially targeted – shows the value of a coordinated response to the coronavirus pandemic amongst European Red Cross National Societies.
From September 2020 to September 2021, this initiative has been a vital part of the COVID-19 response, making RT-PCR and rapid antigen testing available for more people. Local Red Cross teams performed more than 1.2 million tests within the scope of the project. Moreover, 6,800 Red Cross staff and volunteers were trained for testing and 1,428 mobile teams were set up and equipped to provide COVID-19 testing services.
The outreach role of National Red Cross Societies and their capacity to reach vulnerable groups has been particularly important in countries like Greece and Malta, where the Red Cross provided health and care services to migrants and refugees. Set up in camps and remote areas, these testing facilities aimed to help contain the spread of COVID-19 where access to health services was often limited.
“Testing is essential to help contain the pandemic. With all its initial targets surpassed, the project has proven that National Societies can play a key role in supporting national health systems in Europe and has opened new possibilities for further collaboration with health authorities,” said IFRC project coordinator Francisco Fong.
Local Red Cross teams also set up testing stations at transport hubs where a large number of people pass by every day. In Italy, staff and volunteers offered rapid antigen tests free of charge at 10 train stations across the country for travellers and commuters. In countries like Austria, Germany, Portugal and Spain, the Red Cross mobile testing teams have been invaluable in reaching out to marginalised communities in the countryside, where many people don’t have health insurance.
As coronavirus cases and deaths continue to surge across Europe, collective efforts are more important than ever to disrupt transmission chains and save lives. The partnership between the European Commission and the Red Cross Red Crescent Movement has been instrumental in providing support to health authorities and curbing the spread of COVID-19.
| Press release
“Impulsive and ineffective reactions” to COVID-19’s Omicron variant will send more Africans into poverty
In response to the news that a number of countries are restricting travel from South Africa and several other countries in the region; Mohammed Mukhier, IFRC Regional Director for Africa, said:
“This impulsive wave of travel bans will further worsen the livelihoods of families across Africa. We need greater science-driven coordination to bring an end to this pandemic—not impulsive reactions. South Africa should not be punished for doing a good job of detecting a new COVID-19 variant, especially when imposing travel bans is likely to do more harm than good. The emergence of a new variant is happening against the background of low vaccine coverage, and this is where the focus should have been all along. We reiterate our call for equitable vaccine coverage. Variants will continue to emerge while the virus continues to circulate. Vaccine, data and knowledge equity are key to protecting the African continent and the world. We call on the international community to make decisions based on solid scientific evidence and avoid any move which may unjustifiably lead to a further worsening of the socioeconomic impacts of COVID-19.”
For more information
In London: Teresa Goncalves, [email protected], +44 7891 857 056
In Nairobi: Euloge Ishimwe, [email protected], +254 735 437 906
| Press release
Joint statement by IFRC and ICRC on migration crisis at the borders between Belarus, Poland, Lithuania and other countries
Budapest/Geneva - November 18, 2021 - The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) are alarmed by the humanitarian tragedy unfolding at the borders between Belarus, Poland and Lithuania. At least 10 people are known to have died, including a 14-year-old boy due to hypothermia.The situation is set to worsen with the most serious winter weather yet to arrive.
IFRC has allocated more than 1 million Swiss Francs to Belarus Red Cross, Polish Red Cross and Lithuanian Red Cross, whose volunteers and staff are assisting thousands of vulnerable people with food, water, blankets and vital medical assistance.ICRC is complementing the response, providing support and additional technical expertise to Red Cross partners, notably to keep migrants in contact with their relatives and other protection-related issues.
Birgitte Ebbesen, IFRC Regional Director for Europe said: “There are extremely vulnerable people at the border, including people with disabilities, pregnant women, and hundreds of children – many of them without a parent or family member. They have been sleeping rough in freezing conditions for many days now. Our volunteers have been able to provide some assistance, but many are still hungry and cold. These are mothers, sisters, sons and daughters, people whose lives matter, and they should be protected and treated with compassion and dignity.”
Martin Schüepp, ICRC Regional Director for Europe and Central Asia said: “To protect people’s lives, health and dignity, as well as ease suffering and prevent further tragedy, all Red Cross Red Crescent Movement partners and other humanitarian organisations need immediate, unrestricted access to all migrants, including at borders. The ICRC is providing support and additional technical expertise to our Red Cross partners, on reuniting people with separated family members and other protection-related issues.”
All migrants, irrespective of their legal status, should have effective access to humanitarian assistance and medical assistance, as well as to protection. Whether this is international protection, or a voluntary return to their home countries, migrants’ rights should be respected at all times and authorities should avoid separating family members and putting at risk their lives and physical integrity.
For more information or to arrange interviews, please contact:
In Budapest: Corinne Ambler, +36 704 306 506, [email protected]
In Budapest: Georgia Trismpioti, +30 697 180 9031, [email protected]
In Geneva: Florian Seriex, +41 79 574 06 36, [email protected]
In Geneva: Ruth Hetherington, +33 6 33 28 88 23, [email protected]
СОВМЕСТНОЕ ЗАЯВЛЕНИЕ МЕЖДУНАРОДНОЙ ФЕДЕРАЦИИ И МККК О МИГРАЦИОННОМ КРИЗИСЕ НА ГРАНИЦАХ БЕЛАРУСИ С ПОЛЬШЕЙ, ЛИТВОЙ И ДРУГИМИ СТРАНАМИ
Для спасения жизней и облегчения страданий гуманитарным организациям срочно необходим неограниченный и безопасный доступ к пострадавшим
Будапешт/Женева - 18 ноября 2021Международная Федерация обществ Красного Креста и Красного Полумесяца (Международная Федерация) и Международный Комитет Красного Креста (МККК) всерьез обеспокоены гуманитарной трагедией, разворачивающейся на белорусско-польской и белорусско-литовской границах. По подтвержденным данным, от переохлаждения скончались как минимум десять человек, в том числе мальчик 14 лет. С приближением суровой зимы ситуация будет только ухудшаться.
Международная Федерация выделила более 1 миллиона швейцарских франков национальным обществам Красного Креста Беларуси, Польши и Литвы, чьи добровольцы и сотрудники снабжают тысячи беззащитных людей продовольствием, водой и одеялами и оказывают им жизненно необходимую медицинскую помощь. МККК содействует усилиям своих партнеров по краснокрестному движению, предоставляя им практическую помощь и рекомендации, в частности для поддержания контактов между мигрантами и их родственниками и в связи с другими вопросами предоставления защиты.
«Среди скопившихся на границе людей есть те, кто находится в крайне уязвимом положении, в том числе инвалиды, беременные женщины и сотни детей, многие из которых остались без сопровождения родителей или родственников. Уже много дней подряд все они вынуждены ночевать на морозе, прямо под открытым небом. Нашим добровольцам удается оказать им какую-то помощь, но многие по-прежнему страдают от голода и холода. Эти люди — чьи-то матери, сестры, сыновья и дочери. Их жизни имеют значение. Они имеют право на защиту, сострадание и достойное обращение», — заявила Биргитта Эббесен, директор Европейского регионального офиса Международной Федерации.
«Чтобы защитить жизнь, здоровье и человеческое достоинство этих людей, облегчить их страдания и не допустить новых трагедий, всем составным частям Международного движения Красного Креста и Красного Полумесяца и другим гуманитарным организациям срочно необходим неограниченный доступ ко всем мигрантам, в том числе на границах. МККК помогает своим партнерам по Движению и делится с ними опытом в деле воссоединения разлученных родственников и по другим вопросам предоставления защиты», — отметил Мартин Шюпп, глава Регионального управления оперативной деятельности МККК в Европе и Центральной Азии.
Все мигранты, независимо от их правового статуса, должны иметь эффективный доступ к гуманитарной и медицинской помощи и должны пользоваться защитой. Их права — будь то на международную защиту или на добровольное возвращение домой — должны соблюдаться во всякое время, и власти должны воздерживаться от того, чтобы разлучать родственников и подвергать опасности здоровье и физическую неприкосновенность людей.
Получить более подробную информацию или договориться о проведении интервью можно, обратившись к:
Georgia Trismpioti, +30 697 180 9031, [email protected] (Будапешт)
Corinne Ambler, +36 704 306 506, [email protected] (Будапешт)
Florian Seriex, +41 79 574 06 36, [email protected] (Женева)
Ruth Hetherington, +33 6 33 28 88 23, [email protected] (Женева)
| Press release
Action needed now to prevent further loss of life on the Belarus border
Budapest, 15 November 2021 – The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is calling for an urgent de-escalation of the situation at the Belarus-Poland border and for access for humanitarian organisations, to prevent more deaths.
At least 10 migrants are thought to have died as conditions reach below freezing along the 1000km border between Belarus and neighbouring countries Poland, Lithuania and Latvia.
“We are concerned about the increasingly serious situation on the Poland-Belarus border, after large groups of migrants arrived there on November 8. We call for access for the Red Cross and other humanitarian organisations so that all people in need, at the border and other locations, can receive medical treatment, humanitarian assistance and protection services,” said Andreas von Weissenberg, IFRC Europe’s head of Disasters, Climate and Crises.
“While Belarus Red Cross has thankfully been given some access to provide vital life-saving aid to people enduring hunger and freezing conditions, we need that access to be regular and also get access on the other side of the border. People need to be treated humanely,” von Weissenberg said.
An estimated 2,000 people are living in makeshift camps near the border. Belarus Red Cross has been coordinating aid from partners since November 9, distributing food, water, blankets and warm clothes. 50 staff and volunteers are involved in a continuous response to the situation with migrants, 20 of them are involved sorting and distributing packages, as well as helping authorities set up heating tents for women and children.
Belarus Red Cross has also provided food, clothing and hygiene kits for three children who were hospitalised in Grodno and is assisting migrantswho come to its office in Minsk.
Andreas von Weissenberg said Polish Red Cross has also been responding to this crisis for several weeks.
“They are working with authorities to deliver blankets, sleeping bags and clothes. Local branches are supporting migrants in Podlaskie and Lubelskie provinces, near the border, with food, water and hygiene kits. They are providing first aid and helping people trace family members. But they need unhindered access to migrants at the border in line with our humanitarian mandate and in accordance with our fundamental principles.
“Access to humanitarian assistance and to protection in the territory must go hand in hand. All migrants arriving at the EU’s borders should be able to effectively apply for international protection and receive an individualised assessment of their claim, in accordance with the UN Refugee Convention and applicable EU law,” von Weissenberg explained.
IFRC is in the process of providing Belarus Red Cross with emergency funding. It has already allocated 429,426 Swiss francs from its Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF) to help Polish Red Cross support up to 4,300 migrants with food, clothes, hygiene items, first aid and family reunification services.
IFRC has also allocated 338,885 Swiss francs from its Disaster Relief Emergency Fund to help Lithuanian Red Cross support up to 4,000 migrants with medicine, clothes, hygiene kits, personal protective equipment against COVID-19, family reunification and psychosocial support services.
In total the financial support provided by IFRC to the three Red Cross Societies will be more than 1 million Swiss francs.
Lithuanian Red Cross teams have been supporting migrants close to the border with water, hygiene kits, footwear and clothing, as well as toys for children. In five large reception centres volunteers provide food and other humanitarian aid, offer psychological support and legal assistance and help people reconnect with their loved ones by providing mobile phones and SIM cards.
But more needs to be done.
“Humanitarian organizations must be granted unconditional and safe access to all people in need, irrespective of their legal status. People are crossing the border with just the clothes on their backs. They need food, medicine, hygiene items, clothing, and protective equipment against COVID-19. We must be allowed to deliver critical assistance and we want to see a peaceful, humane and rights-based solution to the situation,” von Weissenberg concluded.
Photos of the Red Cross response can be found here
For more information, please contact:
In Budapest: Georgia Trismpioti, +30 697 180 9031, [email protected]
In Budapest: Corinne Ambler, +36 704 306 506, [email protected]
Online certificate programme in disaster management
The IFRC offers a one-year online certificate programme in disaster management in partnership with theTata Institute for Social Sciences (TISS).
National Society Investment Alliance
The National Society Investment Alliance (NSIA) is a pooled funding mechanism, run jointly by the IFRC and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). It provides flexible, multi-year funding tosupportthe long-term development of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.
Capacity Building Fund
The IFRC's Capacity Building Fund is an agile, flexible and easy-to-access mechanism foraddressing acute and time-bound needs of National Societies. Support is gradually expandedbuilding on achieved developments.
| Press release
In the race against the pandemic, the poorest, most vulnerable, and marginalized are being left far behind
“Around half of the world’s population has now received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. This is a tremendous achievement that even just a year ago seemed unfathomable. However, while richer countries are speeding ahead with vaccination campaigns for their populations, in lower-income countries, only about four per cent of people have received even one dose of a vaccine. Over half of the countries facing humanitarian crises do not have enough doses to vaccinate even ten per cent of their population.
“In the race against the pandemic, the poorest, most vulnerable, and marginalized are being left far behind. It is a humanitarian imperative and a global responsibility, not to mention an economic and recovery necessity, to ensure that everyone has access to vaccines, not only those in countries with the means to buy protection.”
Last week, the UN and the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement jointly made five asks to government and the international community, to achieve the equitable distribution and delivery of vaccines.
For more information
In London: Teresa Goncalves, +44 7891 857 056, [email protected]
Statement on behalf of the 160 signatories to the Climate and Environment Charter for Humanitarian Organizations to the 26th UNFCCC COP
The latest scientific evidence, including the most recent IPCC report, reconfirms the truth of those words. Our planet is in a period of accelerating climate and environmental crises, the effects of which are being felt by all of us. As humanitarian organizations, we see this every day in our work.
As the world prepares to come together for COP26 in Glasgow in November, we urge negotiators to bear in mind the humanitarian consequences of their decisions. Climate-related disasters have nearly doubled in the past 20 years and weather-related hazards are now the number one driver of internal displacement, affecting most notably the poorest and most marginalized people. The climate crisis is adding an additional layer of stress to humanitarian organizations that are already stretched thinner than ever before. Urgent and ambitious action is needed to cut greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to rising risks, so that we can avert the most disastrous consequences on people and the environment. Without ambitious climate action, humanitarian organizations will struggle to respond to increasing needs.
Even in the best-case scenarios over the coming years, we know that a certain amount of climate change and environmental degradation is set to occur, and that their humanitarian consequences are likely to increase. We must consider individual characteristics such as age, gender, and legal status, as well as structural situations that affect people’s exposure to risk, to ensure that people who are most vulnerable to those consequences receive the support they need to protect themselves and their livelihoods.
When we signed the Charter, we committed to scale up our action, reduce risks and vulnerability, and support those most at risk. We pledged to act upon local leadership and experience, to invest in durable responses, and to draw on and amplify local and indigenous knowledge. We promised to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions, minimize the damage we cause to the environment, and reduce our waste, and to share information, insights, and resources so that the impact of our efforts is amplified.
We know that radical transformation is needed. We are determined to act, urgently and intentionally, and we call on everyone, across the humanitarian sector and beyond, to do the same.
Signatories to the Climate and Environment Charter for Humanitarian Organizations
The Charter is open for signature by all humanitarian organizations. Information about the Charter and guidance on its implementation are available at www.climate-charter.org
National Society Investment Alliance: Funding announcement 2021
The National Society Investment Alliance (NSIA) is pleased to share the National Societies to receive investment from the fund in 2021, with the Steering Committee approving Accelerator funding to:
The Armenian Red Cross Society
The Nigerian Red Cross Society
The Ugandan Red Cross Society
These three National Societies, all of which have previously received preparatory Bridge funding from the NSIA, will each receive significant follow-on investment to help build sustainable income generating activities related to the provision of commercial first-aid services and other related income generation initiatives.
In addition, Bridge funding will be awarded to the National Societies of Ethiopia, Malawi, Myanmar, Niger, Pakistan, and Yemen.
In total the NSIA will allocate funds of around CHF 2.1 million. This is the largest annual allocation made by the NSIA to date and is made possible by generous support from the governments of Switzerland, the United States, Canada and Norway.
The Co-chairs of the NSIA Steering Committee, Xavier Castellanos, Under-Secretary General for National Society Development and Operations Coordination at the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), and Katrin Wiegmann, Deputy Director-General of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), said:
“We are pleased to share the National Societies that have been selected for funding by the NSIA in 2021."
"It is particularly welcome to see that the three Accelerator investments selected this year have all gone to National Societies who have previously received Bridge funding from the NSIA."
"This underlines for us the importance of the NSIA’s two-stage approach, with initial funds providing a springboard to help National Societies prepare for increased investment aimed at achieving sustained impact on the organisation and vulnerable communities."
"In addition to the three Accelerator awards made this year, we look forward to seeing the progress of the newly selected Bridge recipients.”
The IFRC and the ICRC jointly manage the NSIA to provide substantial, multi-year development support to National Societies in contexts of heightened humanitarian need and risk. The NSIA helps strengthen the organisational capacities and development of humanitarian services of National Societies so they can increase their humanitarian impact and reach.
To respond to the varied development needs of National Societies, the NSIA can award up to one million Swiss francs of Accelerator funding to any one National Society over a five-year period. In addition, Bridge grants of up to 50,000 Swiss francs over 12 months can help National Societies prepare the ground for future investment from the NSIA or elsewhere.
For more information about the NSIA, visit this page.
| Press release
Ahead of COP26, Red Cross Red Crescent Movement’s five asks to world leaders: “It is not too late to act: the survival of humanity depends on the actions we take today”
The following joint statement can be attributed to the Presidents of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) ahead of COP26, on the last day of the Red Cross Red Crescent Movement Summit on pandemics, climate change and local action:
Today, the COVID-19 pandemic and the climate crisis are affecting every aspect of our lives and societies, including our physical and mental wellbeing, our livelihoods, and our economies. The poorest and the most vulnerable, who have contributed least to the climate crisis, are being hit hardest.
In the lead-up to COP26, the Red Cross Red Crescent Movement is urging world leaders to act now for rapid and drastic reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, and at the same time to urgently address the existing and imminent humanitarian impacts of climate change, taking into account the lessons learned from the COVID-19 crisis.
Around the world, poor and vulnerable communities are facing multiple crises at once. The layered effects of extreme-weather events, food insecurity, COVID-19 and conflicts, are putting millions of lives at risk and creating unprecedented humanitarian needs. Climate change is functioning as a risk multiplier, with increasingly devastating impacts. Since the beginning of the pandemic, climate-related disasters have severely affected the lives of at least 139 million people. Of the 25 countries most vulnerable to climate change, 14 are also mired in conflict. And yet these very communities and countries are among the most neglected by climate finance. This needs to change.
No state or organization can do this alone. The Red Cross Red Crescent Movement is committed to playing its part in the global efforts to stem the climate crisis.
We have witnessed the ‘Power of Many’, as millions of volunteers from National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, stepped up to help curb the global pandemic. As auxiliaries to their government in the humanitarian field, National Societies are key players in the climate crisis. Our staff and volunteers are on the front lines in communities across the world before, during and after disasters hit. They also provide advice to their authorities in strengthening disaster risk governance through well drafted disaster-related laws which enable effective preparedness, response and coordination. They are supporting people affected to build their resilience for future shocks and supporting authorities to strengthen their preparedness and prevention measures.
We are also reducing the environmental impact and greenhouse gas emissions from our programmes and operations and calling on others to do the same. The Climate and Environment Charter for Humanitarian Organizationshas rallied to date more than 150 National Societies, small NGOs and large international organizations ready to work together to turn their commitments into tangible action.
The survival of humanity depends on the actions we take today to mitigate climate change and adapt to its impacts. It is not too late to act, and world leaders gathering at COP26 must rise to the challenge.
These are the Red Cross Red Crescent Movement’s five asks to world leaders:
Ensure a focus on the most vulnerable. We must prioritize the needs of the most vulnerable people, including marginalized groups, people in crises and those displaced. We must understand their risks, vulnerabilities, and capacities to be more resilient, and ensure they are informed and included in global, national and local decisions and plans. Inclusive decision making at every level is essential.
Increase finance for adaptation that targets the most vulnerable countries and communities. Vital mitigation efforts need to be accompanied by strong support to climate adaptation, which remains underfunded and underprioritized.
Invest in preparedness, enable more preventive and early action. We are already confronting losses and damages in a more volatile climate. And yet, responding reactively won’t be enough in a crisis of this magnitude. We must invest in preparedness across sectors, and in risk analysis to better anticipate potential climate disasters for early action.
Turn global commitments into local action. Global and national climate action plans often fail to empower those at risk to take effective local action. It is essential to support local institutions and organizations such as National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies through investment in institutional capacities, and in access to adaptation finance and decision-making processes.
Protect the environment, including through adherence to international humanitarian law (IHL). Environmental degradation exacerbates vulnerabilities. IHL protects the natural environment and limits environmental degradation. Respect for IHL prevents the deeply interlinked civilian harm that accompanies environmental damage in armed conflict.
The climate crisis is here, today; it will only worsen in the future. The world must take steps now to mitigate its severity and its effects on the world’s most vulnerable. COP26 is an opportunity to reduce the damage. It’s an opportunity we all must seize together.
Francesco Rocca, President of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC)
Peter Maurer, President of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)
For more information or to arrange an interview, contact:
Tommaso Della Longa, IFRC, +41 79 708 43 67, [email protected]
Aurélie Lachant, ICRC, +41 79 244 6405, [email protected]
Donors pledge increased support to the IFRC’s Disaster Response Emergency Fund (DREF)
Climate-related disasters are occurring with increasing frequency and intensity around the world. But most go unseen—devastating lives, infrastructure and economies without attention, resources or help.
Local and rapid response is what's needed the most. But often the Red Cross or Red Crescent in disaster-hit countries lacks the resources or capacity to respond, especially if they are tackling multiple crises.
That's where the DREF makes all the difference. It’s a central pot of money through which the IFRC channels global funds rapidly and directly to our National Societies for early action and immediate disaster response.
To address the massive humanitarian impacts of climate-related disasters and COVID-19, investment must come at the community level where it has the greatest impact. The DREF brings aid straight into the hands of people in need and builds the capacity of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies who are best placed to deliver it.
IFRC Secretary General
Since launching in 1985, the IFRC has supported 200 million people in crisis worldwide through the DREF.
The DREF Pledging Conference, held on 18 October and co-chaired by the IFRC and the European Union, sought to grow this life-saving and innovative fund to CHF 100 million per year as of 2022, and up to CHF 300 million by 2025, to address the alarming rise in disasters and to support millions more people.
The European Union continues to support the Disaster Relief Emergency Fund. It is a concrete example of our commitment to localization. Through this fund, our resources have been channelled to populations with the most pressing needs, in an open and direct manner.
European Commissioner for Crisis Management
The IFRC is grateful to the following partners who pledged new, or renewed, funding to the DREF during the conference:
Government of Australia
Government of Belgium
Government of Canada
Government of Germany
Government of Ireland
Government of Korea
Government of Luxembourg
Government of the Netherlands
Government of Norway
Government of Sweden
Government of Switzerland
Government of the United Kingdom
Japanese Red Cross
White & Case LLP
We also would like to thank the respective National Societies from the above countries for their support to the DREF and for their continued engagement with their governments.
Watch: meet some of the people around the world who we've supported through the DREF
For more information about the DREF or the pledging conference:
Visit this page on our website
Download our DREF Annual Plan 2021 and DREF Strategic Ambition 2021-2025
Contact Florent Del Pinto (Manager, Emergency Operations Centre) [email protected] or Ivana Mrdja (Manager, National Society and Government Partners) [email protected]
Technological and biological hazard preparedness
Technological and biological emergencies, sometimes called 'CBRN' (short for chemical, biological, radioactive and nuclear hazards), can have devastating and long lasting impacts on people's lives and livelihoods. The IFRC supports National Societies worldwide to effectively prepare for and respond to technological emergencies using a multi-hazard approach.
The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is currently seeking to procure the goods and services listed below.
IFRC Secretary General's Statement on the High-level Ministerial Meeting on the Humanitarian Situation in Afghanistan
Excellencies, Distinguished Representatives, Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is an honour to address you on behalf of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and our member National Society, the Afghan Red Crescent. I give this in complementarity to ICRC’s President, Peter Maurer’s earlier statement.
As current events in Afghanistan unfold, the Afghan Red Crescent continues to carry out critical humanitarian work through its network of 34 provincial branches, 2,000 staff and more than 30,000 trained volunteers.
The Afghan Red Crescent and the IFRC’s staff have been there through it all and are always there to fulfil our humanitarian mandate. We had no option to leave. We continue to deliver.
The IFRC has been in Afghanistan for more than 30 years uninterrupted. We have worked with the Afghan Red Crescent throughout this time in their institutional development, in bringing much needed humanitarian supplies, in bringing the community voices to the global stage and in providing leadership in coordination. We will remain by their side, for as long as we are needed.
Last week we launched a revised Emergency Appeal for 36 million Swiss Francs to ramp up support to the work of the Afghan Red Crescent in meeting the needs of those affected by one of the country’s worst ever droughts, acute food shortages, a fractured health system, displacement as well as the devastating impact of COVID-19. We have also provided support to the neighbouring countries’ National Red Crescent Societies, and we will need an additional 15 million Swiss francs to continue to do so.
Ladies and Gentlemen, I have three messages for you to consider, and act upon:
We must work together to ensure that humanitarian corridors are kept open. This may include making exceptions to sanctions, which allow for medical and urgent humanitarian supply chains. Now is the time to ensure that there are no bureaucratic obstacles to committing humanitarian aid. In return, we will ensure that support is provided to the most vulnerable, to enable locally managed and delivered aid, in line with our fundamental principles.
Now is the time to support local action, empower strong local organizations and make good on your localization commitments in the Grand Bargain. The Afghan Red Crescent has unique access to people in need - recognized for its neutrality, impartiality and independence. Its’ Afghan staff and volunteers work every day in every province of Afghanistan, with direct access to support communities with ongoing relief and health services.
Now is not the time to ignore Afghanistan; it is vital that we look to the future and support the people of Afghanistan as they work hard to heal and recover.
I thank you.
| Press release
WHO/Europe and IFRC sign Memorandum of Understanding to help countries achieve health for all
WHO/Europe and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) today reaffirmed and strengthened their cooperation with the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) in Copenhagen, Denmark.
Ms Birgitte Bischoff Ebbesen, IFRC’s Regional Director for Europe and Dr Hans Henri P. Kluge, WHO Regional Director for Europe jointly signed the MoU. This further cements the existing relationship between the 2 organizations, who have cooperated closely throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
The MoU provides a framework for supporting countries in the Region to achieve universal health coverage through the coordinated efforts of ministries of health, the IFRC, National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, and WHO/Europe, including WHO country offices.
Ms Bischoff Ebbesen stated: “Access to preventive measures and response to urgent health needs are crucial priorities, as the COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated. We look forward to reinforcing our cooperation with WHO/Europe to help guarantee health services for all, with a particular focus on supporting the most vulnerable. Together, we must ensure nobody is left behind”.
Dr Kluge said: “The signing of this memorandum of understanding further strengthens the ties between WHO/Europe and IFRC, moving our existing collaboration forward in a range of areas, including: building universal health coverage in communities, promoting healthy lifestyles, preventing noncommunicable diseases, increasing voluntary blood donations and responding to emergencies. Partnerships such as this one are crucial to our impact on the ground and form a vital part of delivering the European Programme of Work”.
Closer cooperation during the COVID-19 pandemic
During the pandemic, joint activities and partnerships continue to be of central importance in terms of response and recovery. For example, the WHO-UN-Red Cross COVID-19 Platform has been a key source of information sharing and cooperation.
The MoU captures the commitment of WHO/Europe and IFRC to work together to achieve their common aim: improving the lives of the most vulnerable and reducing or eliminating avoidable inequities in health conditions. This will only be achieved through increasing universal access to prevention, treatment, care and support services.
Building on existing agreements
Through the MoU, the 2 organizations will increase and mainstream collaboration in the following areas: universal health coverage with a focus on community health and access to health services by displaced people; health in emergencies including pandemic preparedness and response, COVID-19 and vaccination; mental health and psychosocial support; ageing and the promotion of healthy lifestyles and NCD prevention throughout the life course; HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis; voluntary blood donor recruitment; and evidence-based approaches, innovation and health data management.
The MoU also seeks to enhance and support cooperation among ministries of health, WHO/Europe, and National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, and to tap into each other’s comparative advantages in promoting health in the Region.
Moreover, the MoU goes beyond previous agreements to ensure lasting and suitable impact by establishing a concrete action plan for cooperation. This was facilitated by a series of technical meetings held immediately after the signing ceremony, and will be followed by annual meetings to better understand the impact of the cooperation, share lessons learned and optimize synergies.
The signing ceremony took place the week before the 71st session of the WHO Regional Committee for Europe, which focuses on the importance of partnerships to achieve the goals of the European Programme of Work 2020–2025 – “United Action for Better Health in Europe”.
Contact focal points:
Ainhoa Larrea (+36 70 507 0131 – [email protected]) and Nora Peter (+36 70 953 7709 – [email protected])
| Press release
Red Cross Red Crescent: Humanitarian sector joins forces to tackle ‘existential threat’ of climate change
Geneva, 22 June 2021 – The humanitarian sector has a key role to play in addressing the climate and environment crises that affect people’s lives and livelihoods around the world every day. This means walking the talk in terms of integrating climate smart approaches into its work and greening its own operations. The Red Cross Red Crescent Movement invites all humanitarian organizations to sign the Climate and Environment Charter for Humanitarian Organizations, already adopted by 25 organizations since its launch a month ago.
The Charter, which aims to foster a strong commitment to climate action across the humanitarian community, is designed for all humanitarian organizations – large and small. It was developed by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), with the support of an advisory committee and in consultation with the humanitarian sector. It intends to guide both the humanitarian sector’s approach to the increasing risks resulting from climate change and to address its own carbon and environmental footprint.
“Climate change is an existential threat to humanity, and the entire humanitarian sector needs to take it very seriously. Climate-affected communities across the world understand the scale of the threat, and so do the Red Cross and Red Crescent volunteers and staff who work alongside them every day. Much more needs to be done to reduce the risks communities are facing, to help them to build their resilience and adapt to climate shocks and to ensure that humanitarian organizations are reducing their own environmental impacts,” said Mr Jagan Chapagain, Secretary General of the IFRC.
Today’s climate and environmental crises affect all dimensions of our lives, from our physical and mental health to our food, water and economic security. While the crises are affecting everyone, those hit the hardest are the poorest and most marginalized communities, whose capacity is already strained and who have often contributed least to the problem. And the situation is only getting worse.
“We have no time to lose. We have a responsibility to come together, as a humanitarian community, to strengthen our expertise and develop adequate responses to the climate and environmental crises. Joining forces is critical if we want to reduce their impacts on the most vulnerable people,” said ICRC’s Director General Robert Mardini.
Radical transformation is urgently needed to prevent further death and suffering. Analysis by the IFRC found that 97.6 million people were affected by climate- and weather-related disasters in 2019. Protecting the lives and rights of present and future generations depends on political action to cut emissions, halt environmental degradation, and adapt to increasing risks.
“The climate crisis is impacting humanitarian action around the world, and we must urgently step-up and increase our collective efforts to address this challenge. As a network,at ICVA’s 18thGeneral Assembly, we signed on to the Climate and Environment Charter for Humanitarian Organizations. ICVA encourages others to sign and implement jointly as our ability to partnerisour most strategic capability,” said Ignacio Packer, Executive Director, International Council of Voluntary Agencies (ICVA).
The Climate and Environment Charter for Humanitarian Organizations is a document for and by humanitarian organizations, intended to help them play their part and highlight their relevance in responding to the climate and environmental crises.
The Red Cross Red Crescent Movement aims to gather a large number of signatures ahead of the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) in November 2021 to signal the strong commitment of the humanitarian community to scaling up its response to the climate and environment crises.
The Charter is open for signature here.
Note to editors
The Charter was developed for the humanitarian community, by the humanitarian community, with the support of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), and an advisory committee bringing together climate, environment and humanitarian experts. It is guided by the latest scientific evidence and the objectives of the Paris Agreement, the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction and the Sustainable Development Goals, as well as other relevant international law and standards, including international human rights law, international humanitarian law and international environmental law.
The Charter’s seven commitments are:
Step up our response to growing humanitarian needs and support those who are the most at risk to the impacts of the climate and environmental crises (adaptation, disaster risk reduction and anticipatory action)
Maximize the environmental sustainability of our work and rapidly reduce our greenhouse gas emissions
Embrace the leadership of local actors and communities: our action will be guided by the leadership and experience of local actors and communities.
Increase our capacity to understand climate and environmental risks and develop evidence-based solutions
Work collaboratively across the humanitarian sector and beyond to strengthen climate and environmental action
Use our influence to mobilize urgent and more ambitious climate action and environmental protection
Develop targets and measure our progress as we implement our commitments.
ICRC and IFRC have both adopted concrete targets and a roadmap for their implementation.
 IFRC World Disasters Report 2020: Come Heat or High Water
IFRC is the world’s largest humanitarian network, comprising 192 National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies working to save lives and promote dignity around the world.
Established in 1863, the ICRC operates worldwide, helping people affected by conflict and armed violence and promoting the laws that protect victims of war. An independent and neutral organization, its mandate stems essentially from the Geneva Conventions of 1949.
| Press release
الاتحاد الدولي لجمعيات الصليب الأحمر والهلال الأحمر يطلق نداء طارئا للانضمام إلى مهمة "أس أو أس ميديتارانين" المنقذة للحياة مع ارتفاع عدد...
جنيف/مرسيليا، 19 يوليو/تموز 2021 - أطلق الاتحاد الدولي لجمعيات الصليب الأحمر والهلال الأحمر نداء طارئا لتقديم المساعدة المنقذة للحياة للأشخاص الذين يعانون في وسط البحر الأبيض المتوسط. ستنضم فرق الاتحاد الدولي إلى طاقم المنظمة غير الحكومية البحرية والإنسانية "أس أو أس ميديتارانين "على متن سفينة الإنقاذ أوشن فايكغ اعتبارا من أغسطس 2021.
ولا تزال الأرواح تزهق بلا داع في البحر الأبيض المتوسط، ولا سيما على الطريق الطويل والغادر في وسط البحر بين ليبيا وأوروبا. ومن المعروف أن 792 شخصا لقوا حتفهم على هذا الطريق أثناء محاولتهم الوصول إلى أوروبا في النصف الأول من عام 2021، أي أكثر من ثلاثة أضعاف عدد الذين لقوا حتفهم في الفترة نفسها من العام الماضي. ومن المرجح أن يكون العدد الفعلي للضحايا أعلى من ذلك بكثير.
وقال رئيس الاتحاد الدولي فرانشيسكو روكا: "في خضم وباء كوفيد19 وأزمة المناخ، لا يزال من الأهمية بمكان الانتقال إلى البحر الأبيض المتوسط لإنقاذ الأرواح وحماية الكرامة الإنسانية. ومن غير المقبول أن الناس ما زالوا يموتون في البحر على أعتاب أوروبا. هذا فشل واضح للمجتمع الدولي. ولهذا السبب قررنا مرة أخرى أن نأخذ دعمنا الحيوي في حالات الطوارئ إلى البحر. ندعو شركاءنا والمانحين إلى دعم هذه العملية".
"لا ينبغي إجبار أي شخص على مغادرة منزله ومجتمعه وأحبائه بسبب الفقر والعنف أو انعدام الأمن الغذائي أو أي آثار أخرى لتغير المناخ. لا يجب أن يموت أحد بحثا عن الأمان ونحن فخورون ببدء هذه المهمة الجديدة، ولكننا ندعو الاتحاد الأوروبي ودوله الأعضاء إلى زيادة عمليات البحث والإنقاذ على وجه السرعة. "
وسينضم إلى طاقم "أس أو أس ميديتارانين" من محترفي البحث والإنقاذ، فريق الاتحاد الدولي اعتبارا من أغسطس 2021. وسيقدم الاتحاد الدولي الدعم بعد الإنقاذ، بما في ذلك الإسعافات الأولية والرعاية الطبية والدعم النفسي والغذاء والملابس الجافة والبطانيات ومواد النظافة والمعلومات للأشخاص الذين تم جلبهم بأمان على متن السفينة أوشن فايكنغ. وسيضم فريق الاتحاد الدولي أطباء وقابلة قانونية وتقنيين يمكنهم تقديم الدعم النفسي ومساعدة الضعفاء بشكل خاص والمحتاجين إلى حماية إضافية، مثل القاصرين غير المصحوبين وضحايا الاتجار بالبشر.
وتقول كارولين أبو سعدة، المدير العام لمنظمة أس أو أس ميديتارانينسويسرا: إن انضمام شبكة الصليب الأحمر والهلال الأحمر الى متن السفينة "أوشن فايكنغ" هو شرف وعلامة فارقة جديدة لمنظمتنا. التزام الاتحاد الدولي بالوصول إلى الأشخاص الذين يعانون من ضائقة في البحر من خلال هذه الشراكة تظهر الضرورة المطلقة لمحاولة إنقاذ الأرواح في وسط البحر الأبيض المتوسط."
وأضافت: "ستستند شراكتنا إلى القيم المشتركة والمبادئ الإنسانية التي تدعم واجبنا في الإنقاذ في البحر، وهو واجب مكرس في القانون البحري وتقاليد طويلة الأمد في مجال الملاحة البحرية - وهو واجب تم تجاهله على مدى السنوات الخمس الماضية في وسط البحر الأبيض المتوسط. المنظمات الإنسانية الدولية مثل منظماتنا تسد فقط فجوة الإنقاذ التي خلفها الحكومات في المنطقة. هذا ليس كافيا. لإنقاذ أكبر عدد ممكن من الأرواح، نحن بحاجة ماسة إلى تحالف من الدول الأوروبية والجهات البحرية الفاعلة للقيام بعمليات إنقاذ قانونية وإنسانية."
وقد أطلق الاتحاد الدولي نداء طارئا بمليوني فرنك سويسري لدعم العملية. وهذه البعثة المنقذة للحياة جزء لا يتجزأ من وجود الصليب الأحمر والهلال الأحمر لحماية ومساعدة الناس في بلدان المنشأ والعبور والمقصد في جميع أنحاء أفريقيا والشرق الأوسط وأوروبا. وتقدم الشبكة العالمية للاتحاد الدولي لجمعيات الصليب الأحمر والهلال الأحمر، بوصفها منظمة إنسانية محايدة ومستقلة ومحايدة، مساعدة إنسانية حاسمة لجميع المحتاجين، بغض النظر عن وضعهم القانوني.
| Press release
Profits trumping humanity when it comes to vaccine equity
In response to the news that vaccines manufactured in South Africa are being exported to Europe, Jagan Chapagain, Secretary General of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, said:
“We have long been calling for companies to consider manufacturing doses in regions that remain inequitably served of COVID-19 vaccines. That they should then be exported to regions that have vaccinated a majority of their population is incomprehensible. The African continent is still the most underserved in terms of receiving doses -- barely 2% of people across the region have been vaccinated. Yet, it is clear that profits are still trumping humanity. If compassion will not open the door to the equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccine doses, then let it be science, for none of us is safe until we all are. If parts of the world remain unvaccinated, this pandemic will not end.”
For more information
In London: Teresa Goncalves, [email protected], +44 7891 857 056
In Nairobi: Euloge Ishimwe, [email protected], +254 202 835 246
| Press release
IFRC: Delta variant a huge threat in Eastern Europe, South Caucasus and Central Asia
Budapest/Geneva, 6 August 2021 – The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is calling for more assistance and for vaccinations to be stepped up in Eastern Europe, South Caucasus and Central Asia, where rising COVID-19 cases and deaths triggered by the Delta variant are putting health systems under severe strain.
Europe now has one of the highest per capita rates of COVID-19 in the world and has just passed 60 million coronavirus infections. There were sharp increases throughout July – and more than one million cases reported in the last seven days alone[i].
As the majority of Eastern Europe, South Caucasus and Central Asia is still unvaccinated, medical services in some countries are becoming overwhelmed.
Birgitte Bischoff Ebbesen, IFRC’s Regional Director for Europe, said:
“Time is of the essence. With the highly contagious Delta variant sweeping across the region, millions of people in fragile or unstable settings are at heightened risk.
“With support from the IFRC, National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies are working tirelessly to help those in need, but additional support is needed to save lives and address long term socio economic and health effects. The new wave of the pandemic is having a knock-on effect and will significantly impact the wellbeing of the most vulnerable.”
In Georgia, new infections have skyrocketed by 90 per cent in the last fortnight. Authorities had to expand the capacity of pediatric wards recently, as more children were getting sick, and the number of hotels used as clinics for people with mild symptoms is up.
In Russia, daily infections have almost tripled since the beginning of June, with 23,000 on average in the past week. In Kazakhstan, Armenia and Azerbaijan hospitalisations are on the rise. The situation is also deteriorating in Ukraine, as well as in Turkey, Montenegro and Baltic countries.
Younger generations, who often come last in vaccination campaigns, are being increasingly affected by COVID-19 in the region. This is adding pressure on health systems, as many need to be hospitalised, and can negatively impact other people around them too.
Ebbesen highlighted that vaccination is the key to curb the spread of COVID-19, together with maintaining crucial preventive measures such as mask wearing, hand washing, physical distancing and meeting outdoors or in well ventilated spaces.
However, there is a widening gap across Europe: in the richest countries, 60 per cent of people had received at least one dose of the vaccine as of 27 July, as opposed to less than 10 per cent in the lowest income countries in Eastern Europe, South Caucasus and Central Asia.
“Vaccination, not vaccines, saves lives. Donors, governments and civil society, we must all do our part so that vaccines get into the arms of those who need them most.
“But this depends largely on the availability of doses and people’s willingness to get immunised. It is essential to collectively step up our assistance so that everyone has access to vaccination and nobody hesitates whether to get a jab or not,” stressed Ebbesen.
Worryingly, as holiday travel and easing of lockdowns further the risk of COVID-19 spreading, vital operational funds to support people in need are running out.
“We are concerned about not being able to meet the growing needs, particularly as the socio-economic crisis deepens. Not even 60 per cent of IFRC’s COVID-19 Emergency Appeal is covered, which limits our capacity to provide basic humanitarian aid,” warned Ebbesen.
For more information, please contact:
-Ainhoa Larrea, +36 705 070 131, [email protected]
- Corinne Ambler, +36 704 306 506, [email protected]
- Teresa Goncalves, +44 7891 857 056, [email protected]
Preparedness to respond effectively to multiple hazards
By Olivia Acosta
Prevention, preparedness, early action, and response to disasters and crises are at the core of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC). According to Mr. Jean Urbain Zoa, Secretary-General of the Cameroon Red Cross (CRC), one of the main challenges of the National Society is to be prepared for any emergency: “Better preparedness will help anticipate crises and disasters and build capacity to provide an integrated response. Preparedness can save lives, mitigate the severity of a crisis and engage the population and empower them to manage future disasters”.
Local actors are best placed to reduce disaster risk and to take early action when disasters strike. The commitment of the CRC volunteers, who support their own communities during emergencies, is essential – but the organization doesn’t forget that they, too, might need help. “The Covid-19 pandemic has affected some staff and volunteers of our organization, but we are trying to give the best response to the increasing needs in the most affected communities”, said the Secretary-General.
Indeed,nothing is the same since the pandemic arrived in Cameroon last year.Um Antoine, CRC first aid trainer,explains that“People in the communities are very afraid of Covid-19. They don’t want to be in touch with their neighbors to avoid contagion… the most disadvantaged people feel very lonely,some of themwithout any support or assistance”.
Several NGOs and organizations that used to bring relief to the area have left. Still, Red Cross volunteers continue to respond to the outbreak, carrying out activities such as house and school disinfection and encouraging the population to practice handwashing and other protective measures. Volunteers also organize programs through community radio to ensure that information on reducing the spread of the pandemic reaches a large part of the population, and specialists are available to address questions from listeners. CRC also works to stop the spread of misinformation, which can be spread through rumors circulating in the community. In addition, community feedback is collected and analyzed to meet information needs evolving over time.
Cameroon Red Cross is not just responding to the Covid-19 pandemic. CRC has been simultaneously responding to cholera outbreaks over the past year in the country. Through experience, the National Society knows the importance of detecting an epidemic before it spreads to save lives, protect livelihoods, and sustain long-term development. Well-trained and motivated CRC volunteers like Um Antoine visit members of their own communities, providing sensitization on the signs and symptoms of acute watery diarrhea, the seasonality of cholera outbreaks, and the need to report severe cases to volunteers or health centers as soon as possible.“We use available communication channels like megaphones, posters, social networks, and the radio to disseminate protection measures against cholera and raise awareness about transmission through contaminated food or water. We also work with the population to adopt hygiene measures to eradicate cholera from their communities”.
To reinforce its response in the fight against Covid-19, cholera, and other emergencies, CRC must continuously strengthen the capacity of its volunteers and staff at headquarters and in branches. Over the past years, CRC’s leadership, management, and operational teams have discussed the importance of being prepared. According to Mr. Renauld Bodiong, Director of Cooperation of the Cameroon Red Cross: “The effectiveness of the response depends on the initial preparation of the National Society. Therefore, it is important, and even essential, for a National Society to engage in the Preparedness for Effective Response (PER Approach) that is an institutional approach to NS Preparedness to assess systematically, measure, and analyze its strengths and gaps response system to take action. Always trying to work from an effective, proactive and innovative perspective”.
Upon request from the CRC, theInternational Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC),the Swedish and the French Red Cross joined forces to organize, as part of the PER Approach process, an assessment of CRC’s capacitytoprepare for andrespond to various types of hazards, and support the CRC with the identification of its existing strengths and opportunities for further development.
The COVID-19 context posed a serious problem for the process to start, especially with the travel restrictions put in place as part of COVID-19 preventive measures everywhere.
As facilitators could not travel to Yaoundé, the capital of Cameroon, due to travel restrictions related to Covid-19 in the first quarter of 2021, they provided technical support remotely from Canada, Greece, Russia, and Switzerland. Cameroon Red Cross branches don’t have internet access, and organizing interactive sessions remotely represented quite a challenge for all involved. Brand-new teleconferencing equipment was purchased and set up in Yaoundé, where 36 CRC participants were able to gather in a large meeting room, adhering to physical distancing recommendations. In addition, eight participants also got connected remotely from far regions of the country with the support of IFRC field offices.
Over the course of 5 days, the National Society checked its capacity to prepare for and respond to various types of emergencies, conducted an in-depth analysis of strengths and gaps, and built consensus around key priorities which require urgent attention. These priorities will form the basis of a work plan and feed into the National Society's strategic and operational planning and fundraising processes.
According to Bodiong, “It was very interesting to work online for the first time and be able to listen to everyone's input. For example, we identified that warehouses built in high-risk areas with pre-positioned equipment, well-trained volunteers, and adapted procedures would allow the CRC to respond effectively as quickly as possible to assist the victims of floods in many regularly affected departments of the far north region and prevent cholera outbreaks”.
The Cameroon Red Cross is now using evidence and recommendations from the PER Approach to guide the continuous strengthening of its disaster management systems to be better prepared to respond to emergencies that may occur in the future.