MENA

Displaying 1 - 25 of 35
16/06/2022 | Press release

Ukraine conflict intensifies existing humanitarian crises in the MENA region, warns the IFRC

16 June 2022, Beirut -The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region continues to face multiple and complex crises from conflicts to climate change and displacement. The International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) today issued a rapid assessment report focusing on the impact of the conflict in Ukraine on the humanitarian situation in the MENA region. The findings of the assessment confirmed that the conflict intensifies the impact of pre-existing crises and trends and increases the vulnerability of most countries. Rania Ahmed, Deputy Regional Director of IFRC MENA said: “The global economic and security impact of the conflict in Ukraine could be the proverbial last straw that breaks the camel’s back, pushing already fragile countries in the MENA region over the tipping point.” The assessment’s main findings show that food security and livelihoods are the two most affected sectors. Currently, there are over 55 million people across the region who need humanitarian assistance.Data show that the number could increase by 25% over the next six months because of the global food price index increase that has hit a record high. Twelve countries from the MENA region have experienced a dramatic increase in the price of basic food items. In Lebanon, prices have increased by 75-100%. In Iran and Yemen prices went up by 50-75%. Currently, five million people are facing food insecurity in the region. An estimated 1.9 million could slide into hunger. MENA countries source up to 85% of their wheat from Ukraine and Russia. The agriculture industry in the region has already been severely affected by a combination of disrupted supply chains, water scarcity, and increasing temperatures. With donors’ attention turned towards the Ukraine crisis, there is a risk that the humanitarian funding for MENA countries might drop. Lack of access to donor funding will only amplify the existing humanitarian crisis in several MENA countries. For the millions of Palestinians, Lebanese, Yemenis, Syrians, and others who live in countries experiencing conflict, catastrophic economic meltdowns, and increasing humanitarian needs, this would be equivalent to shutting down critical life support. Finally, energy and oil-importing countries are experiencing additional social stress as they witness a 25-75% increase of fuel prices. In Syria and Yemen, fuel shortages and a lack of electricity is already severely impacting the delivery of basic services. The compounded crisis trends in Lebanon, including the sharp increase in energy prices resulting from the Ukraine crisis, have the potential to push the country over the tipping point to become a “critical crisis”. Click here to access the full report. Notes to the editor: Methodology: This rapid assessment aims to contribute to the ongoing analysis and scenario development to anticipate, prepare for, and respond to evolving crisis trends in the MENA region, with specific considerations on how the Ukraine conflict is a risk multiplier to existing crisis trends. The assessment was carried out between 25 April and 3 June 2022 using secondary data and a perception survey of 24 representatives of National Societies and IFRC Heads of Delegation. For more information: Rania Ahmed, Deputy Regional Director, IFRC MENA: [email protected] +96171802701

Read more
31/03/2022 | Basic page

MENA Plans 2022

Discover our country plans for the Middle East and North Africa region in 2022. Additional plans will be added to this page as they become available.

Read more
01/03/2022 | Press release

Red Cross Red Crescent humanitarian leaders agree on a road map to alleviate the suffering in MENA

Cairo, 1 March 2022 -The first ever Middle East and North Africa Humanitarian Leadership Conference will conclude today with a set of recommendations to address the increasing humanitarian challenges in the region. The conference, held under the patronage of the Prime Minister of Egypt, brought together humanitarian actors to address key humanitarian concerns in the region, home to some of the worst protracted crises in the world. The two-day conference, organized by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and the Egyptian Red Crescent Society (ERCS), discussed how to enhance collaboration to alleviate human suffering and support those affected by climate change and related disasters, conflicts and health emergencies.Participants included representatives from the Egyptian Government, the World Health Organization, World Bank, International Committee of the Red Cross as well as Red Cross and Red Crescent national societies. Dr. Nivine Al Qabbage Minister of Social Solidarity, Vice president of Egyptian Red Crescent Society said: “We, as Red Cross and Red Crescent national societies, are the first responders to humanitarian crises in our respective countries. We meet here today with other humanitarian actors to ensure that international humanitarian coordination mechanisms are aligned and relevant as well as to develop innovative partnerships that mobilize resources to continue supporting our communities.” The countries in the Middle East and North Africa continue to suffer from decades of extreme climate conditions, including severe heat, limited groundwater and rainfall and scarcity of agricultural and arable land, which make them particularly vulnerable to climate change impacts. An estimated 70 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance in the region. Young people in particular continue to pay the price of protracted crises and disasters. The region has the highest youth unemployment rates in the world and the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the situation, leading to an average of up to 40 per cent of young women being without a job. Dr. Hossam Elsharkawi, IFRC Regional Director said: “Even after two years, the COVID-19 pandemic continues to amplify the inequalities in the region. It is imperative that all humanitarian actors come together to better assist those most vulnerable, who too often fall between the cracks. This can only happen when we shift the leadership to truly locally led humanitarian efforts while committing to respectful partnerships focused on local priorities.” At the end of the conference, the participants will agree on a call to action that will shape their joint humanitarian response operations during health emergencies, climate related disasters, migration and partnerships. Participants agreed on: Working hand in hand with nature, use nature-based solutions to enhance and/or build resilience. Engage in the development of National Adaptation Plans since Red Cross and Red Crescent National Societies are auxiliaries to their governments and can lead the climate action from the local level. Empower youth as agents of change in changing leaders’ mindset and advocating for change and addressing the climate and environmental crises. Proactively work to formalize and implement cross-sectoral and multi-agency partnerships that include key governmental bodies/authorities to scale up humanitarian preparedness and response focused on vulnerable communities, people on the move, protracted crises, epidemics/pandemics, and natural disasters. Support IFRC in leading the Localization work stream, supervising the implementation of efforts aiming to make humanitarian action “as local as possible and as international as necessary”. Continue embarking on IFRC’s strategic approach to National Society Development that aspires to strengthen National societies and their branches when it comes to quality leadership, transparent financial management, relationship with authorities and community engagement and participation. Conduct Humanitarian diplomacy efforts to better recognize the added value of Red Cross/ Crescent National Societies through our auxiliary role to public authorities and grassroots access through volunteers. For more information or to organize interviews: Silvia Simon, Egyptian Red Crescent Society, [email protected], 00201227404477 Rana Cassou, IFRC MENA, [email protected], 0033675945515

Read more
27/01/2022 | Press release

Syria: Extremely harsh winter raises acute humanitarian needs to highest level ever

Damascus/Beirut, 27 January 2022–Extreme winter conditions are putting communities already overwhelmed by overlapping crises in immediate danger, resulting in the highest level of acute humanitarian needs ever in Syria, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) warns. In many areas, this winter has been one of the coldest in the past decade, with snowstorms and sub-zero temperatures. IFRC is deeply concerned about the situation in the country as the number of people in need of humanitarian assistance has reached the highest since the start of the crisis. According to the UN, a total of 14.6 million people needs support, 1.2 million more than in 2021. 6.9 million people are internally displaced. Mads Brinch Hansen, Head of the IFRC Delegation in Syria, said: “Exceptionally cold weather is making the lives of many people all around Syria even more difficult, especially the displaced communities living in temporary shelters who don’t have appropriate clothing or heating for sub-zero temperatures. “The situation in Syria is worse than ever. The price of basic commodities such as food and fuel has skyrocketed making them unaffordable for the majority of people, escalations of violence are intensifying, and COVID-19 continues to put an extra burden on communities. At the same time, funding for humanitarian actors is shrinking.” Eng. Khaled Hboubati, President of the Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC), said: “Daily, our volunteers in Hassakeh and everywhere in Syria see more people who are asking for support, more children who are without winter clothes in the middle of the storm. The situation is getting worse amid the COVID-19 pandemic and the economic sanctions that complicate our humanitarian response. “We will continue doing our best to alleviate the suffering of millions of people and preserve their dignity. We need the support from partners and donors to restore the livelihoods of people and ensure sustainable solutions to accelerate the recovery.” Hassakeh, where up to 45,000 people have been displaced by recent violence at Sina'a Prison, is one of the hardest-hit regions with sub-zero temperatures making the winter one of the coldest in recent history. Snow has also covered the Al-Hol camp, which hosts more than 60,000 displaced people. SARC continues to be the main humanitarian actor in the country with thousands of volunteers responding to the acute needs caused by the conflict, economic crisis, and COVID-19 as well as the cold wave. In Hassakeh, SARC has a key role in evacuating as well as providing medical services and drinking water for the newly displaced and the communities hosting them. Almost 11 years since the start of the conflict, Syria continues to be one of the biggest and most complex humanitarian crises globally. Homes and whole cities have been utterly destroyed, forcing mass displacement. According to the UN, 90 percent of the population in Syria lives below the poverty line and 70 percent are facing acute food shortages – figures that have not seen improvement in recent years due to the economic downturn, instability and disasters driven by climate change. In 2021, Syria faced the worst drought in more than 50 years. To scale up the Syrian Arab Red Crescent's humanitarian response and meet the growing needs, IFRC calls for partners and donors to continue showing their solidarity towards the people in Syria. Funding is more urgent than ever to ensure Syrian people can cover their basic needs and maintain a life of dignity. For more information: In Beirut: Jani Savolainen, IFRC, [email protected], +961 70372812 In Damascus: Rahaf Aboud, Syrian Arab Red Crescent, [email protected], +963 959999853 Read more: IFRC Syria Country Plan For the editors: About the Syrian Arab Red Crescent: The Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC) is the main humanitarian actor in Syria. It has more than 13,500 staff members and volunteers in 14 branches and 97 sub-branches nationwide. Annually SARC reaches 5.6 million people with humanitarian assistance. About the IFRC: The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (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. With a permanent delegation in Syria since 2007, IFRC has played a pivotal role in providing humanitarian services and supporting the Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC) in their organisational and strategic development and in strengthening SARC’s operational capacity.

Read more
19/01/2022 | Press release

WHO and IFRC partnership aims to build regional capacity in responding to key public health challenges

19 January 2022, Cairo-Beirut – The WHO Regional Director for the Eastern Mediterranean Dr. Ahmed Al-Mandhari and the Regional Director of the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) Dr. Hossam Elsharkawi, yesterday signed a memorandum of understanding to enhance collaboration to support countries in the Middle East and North Africa respond effectively to key public health challenges. The aims of the agreement between WHO and IFRC are to strengthen the support provided to countries in order to improve the health and well-being of populations living in emergencies and protect and improve the health of vulnerable groups through ensuring access to essential health services, in addition to strengthening country capacity to provide access to sustainable, affordable and quality health services across the life course. The agreement also aims to strengthen leadership, governance and advocacy for health. During the virtual ceremony, Dr. Ahmed Al-Mandhari, WHO Regional Director for the Eastern Mediterranean, expressed his appreciation of WHO’s valued partnership with IFRC. “With a long history of collaboration with IFRC and working together to serve humanity, I am confident that this joint agreement can serve as a roadmap for us to strengthen support to countries and enhance national efforts to address key public health challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond in order to meet the urgent health needs of all people in the region. It is a true interpretation of our vision; health for all by all: a call for action and solidarity”. In his opening remarks, Dr. Hossam Elsharkawi, IFRC’s Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa said, “Addressing current and future humanitarian challenges requires the strong commitment of all partners and courageous leadership that focus on locally led actions and interdependence. We are honoured to work alongside WHO and leverage our volunteer network to advance progress towards universal health coverage, strengthen emergency response and preserve the dignity of all people.” Dr. Rana Hajjeh, Director of Programme Management at the WHO Regional Office, noted that the memorandum of understanding focused on the health challenges related to emergencies such as outbreaks, epidemics and the COVID-19 pandemic. “The pandemic has been a game changer for all countries and demonstrated the importance of effective preparedness and response to emergencies, and it has highlighted how, we as international organizations, can provide targeted support to countries to help them build capacity and strengthen community resilience.” Rania Ahmed, Deputy Regional Director of IFRC, noted, “Today, the WHO/IFRC agreement is reaffirming our continued commitment to work together to create change that results in a positive impact on people’s lives. Our partnership emphasizes the need to develop policies that respond to community needs and promote effective community engagement and support to shape evidence-based responses that allow results at scale.” The collaborative partnership between WHO and IFRC aims to further build on country progress to achieve universal health coverage and enhance national health systems. It focuses on strengthening regional capacity to effectively prepare for, and respond to, emergencies. One of the top priorities for WHO’s Eastern Mediterranean Region is to ensure and availability of mental health and other essential health services for all people, including displaced persons and refugees. The memorandum of understanding takes immediate effect and will be implemented with the direct involvement of all national stakeholders and WHO country offices in the region. For more information: Rana Sidani Cassou, IFRC MENA: +41796715751; [email protected] Mona Yassin, WHO EMRO: +201006019284; [email protected] We are honoured to work alongside WHO and leverage our volunteer network to advance progress towards universal health coverage, strengthen emergency response and preserve the dignity of all people, IFRC MENA Regional Director Dr. Hossam Elsharkawi said during the virtual signing ceremony. With this distinctive partnership with IFRC , we can jointly steer the public health agenda at regional, and more importantly, at country level; working together towards achieving Universal Health Coverage, WHO Regional Director Dr. Ahmed Al-Mandhari said during the virtual ceremony.

Read more
16/12/2021 | Press release

Red Cross Red Crescent reaching 1.5 million people on the move in MENA, yet millions are left without support

Beirut, 16 December 2021 – Red Cross and Red Crescent National Societies are reaching more than 1.5 million migrants, refugees and internally displaced people (IDPs) in the Middle East and North Africa, yet the number of people on the move left without essential support is colossal, a report by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) has found. Ahead of International Migrants Day on 18 December, the IFRC is calling for a stronger commitment to support people on the move during their journey, not only once they have managed to reach their planned destination – if they ever do. Fabrizio Anzolini, Migration Regional Advisor for IFRC MENA, said: “Countless migrants face inhumane conditions along their way, including violence, lack of food, shelter and access to health services. Climate change and conflicts are only expected to accelerate the number of people migrating out of the region in the coming months and years. We need to act right now on the routes and advocating for durable solutions.” The region, with more than 40 million migrants and 14 million internally displaced people, has some of the world’s longest protracted conflicts, combined with frequent natural disasters, man-made crises and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Regional hotspots include the population movement from Afghanistan to Iran, the migration flows from Morocco, Tunisia and Libya to Europe, the extensive number of internally displaced persons in Syria, as well as the route from the Horn of Africa to Yemen, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states. Rania Ahmed, IFRC MENA Deputy Regional Director, said: “Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies are reaching more than 1.5 million migrants and displaced people in the Middle East and North Africa, but it is not enough. We need bigger investment and greater long-term commitment to address their plight. We need to mobilize all efforts and resources to ensure people on the move receive humanitarian assistance and protection. Migrants and displaced populations are intensely vulnerable and must be included in COVID-19 prevention, response, and recovery plans. We urge governments to ensure that people on the move have equal access to vaccinations, health care and basic services.” With the engagement of the IFRC, Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies in the MENA region are on the frontline attempting to cover the enormous gap between people’s needs and the support that is available for them. Red Cross and Red Crescent teams provide multidisciplinary assistance, including health services, livelihood support, protection for children and victims of violence, mental health, and psychosocial support, as well as cash assistance. These support services are also widely available to host communities, leaving no one behind. Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies remain committed to continue responding to the needs of migrants and displaced people as well as advocating for the support that they need at country, regional and global levels through evidence-based humanitarian diplomacy. However, their continued activities are hampered by shrinking funding. In addition, access to migrants is often limited, especially in conflict zones and due to restrictions put in place to curb the COVID-19 pandemic. You can access the full report here: MENA Red Cross and Red Crescent Activities on Migration and Displacement – Snapshot 2021. The survey includes responses from twelve Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies in the Middle East and North Africa. For more information or to arrange an interview, contact: In Geneva: Rana Sidani Cassou, +41 766715751 / +33 675945515, [email protected] In Beirut: Jani Savolainen, +961 70372812 / +358 504667831, [email protected]

Read more
26/08/2021 | Press release

IFRC launches multiregional plan to ramp up humanitarian assistance to migrants and displaced people

Geneva, 26 August 2021– The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) launched today a three-year plan to extend humanitarian assistance and support to migrants and displaced people along the migration routes of greatest humanitarian concern in Africa, the Middle East and Europe, three regions facing some of the most complex and critical migration dynamics in the world. As a global humanitarian network with a presence in 192 countries and 14 million community-based volunteers, the IFRC witnesses every day the enormous suffering that many migrants and displaced people face along their journeys. Xavier Castellanos, IFRC Under Secretary General, National Society Development and Operations Coordination, said: “Migrants and displaced people are taking increasingly dangerous routes, both across land and sea. During their journeys, they face significant risks and challenges: many are abused and face exploitation – others face protection risks, including child abuse, sexual and gender-based violence and human trafficking. We are extremely concerned that migrants and displaced people are not able, at all stages of their journey, to access what they need most – such as food, water and sanitation, shelter, and healthcare. Our multiregional humanitarian assistance plan aims to bridge this gap”. The IFRC multiregional plan brings together humanitarian operations of 34 National Societies across Africa, the Middle East and Europe and focuses on delivering humanitarian assistance and protection to over 2 million people and more than 500,000 individuals from host communities every year. In order to extend humanitarian assistance to a growing number of people in need, the IFRC is appealing for financial support totalling 174 million Swiss francs over three years. The plan also includes assistance and protection to people in distress at sea on the Central Mediterranean route. Through a partnership with SOS MEDITERRANEE, a European maritime and humanitarian organization operating in the Mediterranean Sea, the IFRC will provide life-saving support to people rescued at sea as of early September 2021. SOS MEDITERRANEE will conduct search and rescue operations at sea, while IFRC will provide post-rescue support — including medical care, psychological support, protection and basic necessities — to the people who have been safely brought onboard the Ocean Viking. The IFRC team includes medical doctors, a midwife and professionals who can provide psychological support and assist those who are particularly vulnerable and in need of special protection, such as unaccompanied minors and victims of human trafficking. The long-standing commitment and experience of the IFRC network in providing assistance and protection to all migrants all along their migratory journeys allows for an integrated and comprehensive response, based on people’s needs and vulnerabilities. Our principled approach to migration, as well as our global presence along migratory routes, mean that we are uniquely positioned to provide humanitarian assistance and protection at all steps of migrants’ journeys – in countries of origin, transit and destination. To learn more about the plan, download the document(pdf, 18 Mb). For more information and to set up interviews, contact: In Geneva: Nathalie Perroud, +41 79 538 14 71, [email protected]

Read more
03/09/2021 | Press release

الإتحاد الدولي: هناك حاجة ماسة إلى الإسراع في التلقيح ضد كوفيد19 لوقف موجات الانتشار في شمال أفريقيا

بيروت، 2 أغسطس/آب 2021 – يعبّر الاتحاد الدولي لجمعيات الصليب الأحمر والهلال الأحمر في الشرق الأوسط وشمال أفريقيا عن قلقه من أن يؤدي تزايد انتقال فيروس كوفيد19 في المنطقة إلى إحداث تأثير كرة ثلج تصيب كل بلدان المنطقة وترتب أثارا صحية واجتماعية واقتصادية كارثية. ويدعو الإتحاد الدولي الى تعزيز عمليات التلقيح وتدابير الحماية من العدوى والوقاية منها. وأبلغت تونس والجزائر والمغرب وليبيا عن أكبر عدد من الحالات الجديدة في الأسابيع الماضية، حيث شهدت تونس أكبر زيادة في عدد الوفيات الجديدة. وتتزايد المخاوف بشأن المستقبل مع استمرار انتشار الفيروس بأشكاله المتحورة واتجاه النظم الصحية الى الانهيار، واستمرار تأخر معدلات التطعيم في منطقة الشرق الأوسط وشمال أفريقيا بشكل خطير. وقال الدكتور هيثم قوصة رئيس وحدة الصحة في الاتحاد الدولي: "إنّ تأخر بعض الدول في حملات التلقيح لن يؤدي إلا إلى إطالة أمد الوباء، ليس في المنطقة فحسب، بل على الصعيد العالمي. وتواجه بلدان عديدة مواطن ضعف أخرى، بما في ذلك الصراعات والكوارث الطبيعية ونقص المياه والتشرد وغير ذلك من الأمراض المعدية. وهذا يجعل الناس أكثر عرضة للآثار المدمرة فيروس لكوفيد19. وينبغي أن يكون هذا وحده سببا كافيا للتضامن العالمي لضمان الحصول العادل على اللقاح في المنطقة. وعلى الصعيد العالمي، يعد الإنصاف في اللقاحات عاملا رئيسيا في الحد من احتمال وجود نسخات متحورة اضافية للفيروس. وهذه هي الطريقة الوحيدة التي يمكننا بها إنهاء هذا الوباء حقا". ويستمر متطوعو وموظفو الصليب الأحمر والهلال الأحمر بالعمل على خط المواجهة في الاستجابة منذ بداية الجائحة بدعم من الاتحاد الدولي من خلال: 1. الجهود المبذولة لتسريع حملات التطعيم الوطنية. 2. تقديم المساعدات النقدية والطرود الغذائية ومستلزمات النظافة والكمامات. 3. توفير الإمدادات الطبية بما في ذلك أجهزة تكثيف الأكسجين وأجهزة التنفس الصناعي والمولدات الكهربائية وأدوات الحماية الشخصية للسلطات الصحية المحلية. 4. رصد حملات التطعيم من أجل التأكد من جودة تطبيقها وفقا للمعايير الدولية والإنصاف. 5. الدعم التقني الخاص بالإعلام والنشر حول المخاطر والمشاركة المجتمعية. وعلى الرغم من الخطاب النبيل بشأن التضامن العالمي من حيث الإنصاف في اللقاحات، هناك فجوة قاتلة في الخطة العالمية لتوزيع لقاحات كوفيد19 توزيعا عادلا. على سبيل المثال في منطقة الشرق الأوسط وشمال أفريقيا، تم إعطاء 10 جرعات فقط لكل 100 شخص في العديد من البلدان، بما في ذلك ليبيا والجزائر ومصر والعراق. في سوريا واليمن، كان هناك أقل من جرعة واحدة لكل 100 شخص. وقال الدكتور حسام فيصل، رئيس وحدة الكوارث والمناخ والأزمات في الاتحاد الدولي: "تذكرنا موجات الوباء الجديدة بأن المعركة ضده لم تنته بعد للأسف. ومع ذلك، فإنه يسلط الضوء أيضا على الدور الحاسم لموظفي ومتطوعي الصليب الأحمر والهلال الأحمر كجهات فاعلة محلية موثوق بها وقادرة على الاستجابة بسرعة لموجات جديدة من الانتشار. وفي جميع أنحاء المنطقة، يعمل المتطوعون والموظفون بلا كلل لدعم النظم الصحية، والمساعدة في حماية المجتمعات المحلية، وضمان أن تصل اللقاحات الى الفئات الأكثر ضعفا. ولكن بدون المزيد من اللقاحات، لا يمكن أن تكون هناك حملات تطعيم". ملاحظات إلى المحررين الجزائر في الأسابيع الأربعة الماضية، نرى زيادة حادة في انتشار عدوى كوفيد19. واستجابة للذروة الأخيرة، قام الهلال الأحمر الجزائري بزيادة أنشطته بسرعة بمجرد أن ارتفعت الأرقام إلى مستوى ينذر بالخطر، لكن الوضع لم ينته بعد. وقد تم بالفعل تطعيم أكثر من مليوني شخص من قبل أطباء وممرضي الهلال الأحمر ليس فقط في المدن ولكن أيضا في المناطق النائية. وقد تم افتتاح العديد من مراكز التطعيم مؤخرا للوصول إلى الهدف الوطني الذي حددته السلطات وهو تلقيح 20 مليون شخص بحلول نهاية عام 2021. ويعمل أكثر من 20.000 متطوع على: 1. دعم السلطات في حملات التطعيم. 2. توزيع مليوني كمامة منذ بداية الوباء و100.000 مجموعة من أدوات النظافة للأسر التي تعيش في المناطق النائية. 3. توفير المكثفات الأكسجين للمستشفيات في مناطق تكثر فيها حالات الإصابة. تونس وفي الأسابيع الماضية، سجلت تونس أكبر عدد من الوفيات اليومية منذ بداية الوباء في ظل انتشار المتحور دلتا وانخفاض توافر اللقاح. وتكافح نظم الرعاية الصحية للتعامل مع هذه الزيادة وخاصة أقسام العناية المركزة التي هي مشغولة بالكامل. ويثقل الفيروس كاهل الأطباء بالتفشي السريع للحالات وتزايد عدد الوفيات. لدى تونس واحد من أعلى معدلات وفيات الفرد في العالم. ولا تزال حملات التطعيم تسير بشكل بطيء. وحتى 29 يوليو/تموز 2021، ومن بين 11.7 مليون نسمة، تم تطعيم 1.677446 مليون نسمة بجرعة واحدة على الأقل (14.1٪). في حين أن 934.004 ( 7.9 ٪ ) تم تطعيمهم بالكامل. وقد عزز الهلال الأحمر التونسي، كهيئة مساعدة للسلطات العامة، استجابته للاحتياجات الإنسانية المتزايدة، وركز على دعم النظام الصحي في البلاد من خلال حملات التوعية بالمخاطر، وتوفير الرعاية المنزلية لمكثفات الأكسجين، فضلا عن توفير وسائل الوقاية الشخصية مثل الكمامات وغيرها من المواد للعاملين الصحيين في الخطوط الأمامية. ويواصل 3000 متطوع منتشرين من 24 فرعا في جميع أنحاء البلد حملات التوعية، ويساعدون السكان في التسجيل على منصة التطعيم ولا سيما كبار السن والمهاجرين وسكان المناطق الريفية النائية، ويوزعون في الوقت نفسه الغذاء ومستلزمات النظافة. في جميع مراكز التطعيم تقريبا، يساعد متطوعون العاملين الصحيين في التحقق من التسجيل والمواعيد، ومراقبة أي آثار جانبية قد تحصل ما بعد التطعيم مباشرة. وفي الأسبوعين الماضيين، قام الاتحاد الدولي والهلال الأحمر القطري والهلال الأحمر الكويتي بشحن أكثر من عشرة أطنان من المعدات الطبية، بما في ذلك أجهزة تركيز الأكسجين والتنفس الصناعي ومعدات الحماية الشخصية والمطهر إلى الهلال الأحمر التونسي. وقد ساعد الهلال الأحمر التونسي 10 ملايين شخص منذ بداية الجائحة من خلال حملات التوعية في الأماكن والمؤسسات العامة، وإجراء الفحص والفرز، وإدارة طوابير الانتظار أمام المرافق العامة ومراكز التطعيم. المغرب هناك زيادة حادة في الحالات في الأسابيع الأربعة الماضية. وقد شهد المغرب زيادة بنسبة 40٪ في عدد الإصابات في الأسبوع 29 مقارنة بالأسبوع السابق. وفي 14 تموز/يوليو لم يحصل سوى 27 في المائة من السكان على التطعيم الكامل. وقد حشد الهلال الأحمر المغربي أكثر من 2000 متطوع لدعم حملات التطعيم إلى جانب الأطباء والممرضين. وبالإضافة إلى ذلك، ينشط 000 5 متطوع في 75 فرعا في جميع أنحاء البلد لتوعية السكان بأهمية اللقاح وتعزيز احترام رسائل الاتصال المتعلقة بالمخاطر. وبدعم من الاتحاد الدولي ، توزع الجمعية الأغذية والأدوية ومواد النظافة والكمامات في المناطق الحضرية في المناطق النائية التي تصل إلى ما لا يقل عن 190,000 أسرة. ويؤثر الوباء على الصحة العقلية للسكان. لذا تدرب 150 متطوعا على الإسعافات الأولية النفسية والاجتماعية، وأداروا الخط الساخن للاستماع إلى المجتمع، وتقديم الإسعافات الأولية النفسية، وتلقي طلبات للحصول على الأدوية والغذاء، وما إلى ذلك. ليبيا يضيف وباء كوفيد19 تحديا إضافيا على التحديات التي تسبب فيها النزاع المسلح والتي أدت إلى ضعف نظام الرعاية الصحية، والوضع الاقتصادي المتردي، ونقص الخدمات الأساسية والظروف الإنسانية الخطيرة التي يعاني منها المواطنون والمهاجرون عبر البحر الأبيض المتوسط. وتشهد ليبيا حاليا زيادة في عدد حالات الإصابة، حيث سجلت في 13 يوليو أعلى معدل يومي لها من الإصابات بزيادة قدرها 161٪ مقارنة بالأسبوع السابق. ومع انخفاض معدل التطعيم، يمكن أن تزيد أثار هذه الموجة من معاناة المواطنين. ولمحاربة هذه الموجة، فرضت ليبيا تدابير احترازية جديدة للحد من معدلات العدوى شملت إغلاق الحدود مع تونس المجاورة وإغلاق المقاهي والمطاعم، وحظر حفلات الزفاف والجنازات، ووقف وسائل النقل العام لمدة أسبوعين. تقوم جمعية الهلال الأحمر الليبي بالتنسيق مع الاتحاد الدولي بدعم المجتمعات المضيفة والمهاجرين بالمواد الغذائية ومواد النظافة والخدمات الصحية وحماية الأطفال ونقاط الخدمات الإنسانية للمهاجرين والمشاركة في أنشطة نشر الوعي حول المخاطر والمشاركة المجتمعية، والوقاية وأهمية التحصين ضد المرض. ويؤدي الهلال الليبي دورا رئيسيا في إدارة مواقع التطعيم في جميع أنحاء ليبيا مع المركز الوطني لمكافحة الأمراض المشتركة. وقد وصل المركز مباشرة إلى 500 35 شخص في رده على من خلال الدعم المقدم من الاتحاد الدولي لجمعيات الصليب الأحمر والهلال الأحمر. لمزيد من المعلومات في بيروت: رنا صيداني كاسو، مسؤولة قسم الإعلام 0096171802779 [email protected]

Read more
03/09/2021 | Press release

الصليب الأحمر يمدد مساعداته في لبنان لمواجهة الأزمة الاقتصادية الحادة

بيروت/جنيف، 4 آب/أغسطس 2021 - بعد مرور عام على الانفجار المدمر لميناء بيروت، يستمر عدد الأشخاص المحتاجين إلى المساعدة الإنسانية في لبنان في الارتفاع، بسبب الأزمة الاقتصادية الحادة وانخفاض قيمة العملة المحلية، وسط وباء كوفيد 19المستمر. ويواصل الاتحاد الدولي لجمعيات الصليب الأحمر والهلال الأحمر دعم الصليب الأحمر اللبناني في الأنشطة المنقذة للحياة، التي تصل إلى ملايين الأشخاص في جميع أنحاء البلاد. بالنسبة لكثير من الناس الذين فقدوا وظائفهم والقدرة على شراء المواد الغذائية الأساسية والسلع المنزلية، أصبح من الصعب للغاية شراء الأدوية والحصول على الرعاية الصحية. وقال جورج كتانة، الأمين العام للصليب الأحمر اللبناني: "إن الأزمة الاقتصادية الحادة التي يواجهها بلدنا، حطمت حياة عدد كبير من الناس في لبنان. لا يمكن للأشخاص الذين يعانون من أمراض مزمنة الانتظار حتى تنتهي الأزمة الاقتصادية. إنهم بحاجة إلى أدوية يومية للبقاء على قيد الحياة. إنهم بحاجة إلى مساعدتنا الآن. ونحن ندعو المانحين إلى مساعدتنا في الحصول على التمويل اللازم لتأمين استدامة خدماتنا العامة الحيوية وتمويل استجابتنا للأزمة الاقتصادية". ومنذ الانفجار الذي وقع في آب/أغسطس من العام الماضي، قدم الاتحاد الدولي دعما كبيرا إلى الصليب الأحمر اللبناني لتمكين الجمعية الوطنية من تلبية الاحتياجات الإنسانية للمتضررين. وعلى وجه التحديد، صرف الاتحاد الدولي 75000 فرنك سويسري من صندوق الإغاثة الطارئة في حالات الكوارث في الأيام الأولى التي أعقبت الانفجار. وفي وقت لاحق، أطلق الاتحاد الدولي نداء عالميا طارئا لجمع مبلغ 20 مليون فرنك سويسري بهدف مساعدة أكثر من 150000 شخص. وبالإضافة إلى ذلك، نشر الاتحاد الدولي موظفين متخصصين لدعم واستكمال جهود الجمعية الوطنية في قطاعات متعددة؛ وقدم الدعم المالي لضمان استمرارية العمليات اليومية للصليب الأحمر اللبناني في تقديم الخدمات الحيوية لكل من يحتاجها. وأضاف كريستيان كورتيز، ممثل الاتحاد الدولي لجمعيات الصليب الأحمر والهلال الأحمر في لبنان: "يعمل الاتحاد الدولي والصليب الأحمر اللبناني معا على توسيع خطة الاستجابة المشتركة التي تشمل تقديم المساعدة الصحية والرعاية الصحية الطارئة والأولية، ودعم المرضى المصابين بفيروس كوفيد19، وزيادة خدمات نقل الدم من 42,000 وحدة دم إلى 60,000 سنويا لتلبية الاحتياجات الأساسية للناس في لبنان". وحتى الآن، جمع الاتحاد الدولي لجمعيات الصليب الأحمر والهلال الأحمر 9.2 مليون فرنك سويسري من خلال مناشدة عالمية. وقد قدم الصليب الاحمر اللبنانى مساعدات نقدية مباشرة الى اكثر من 10800 اسرة ، منها سبع دفعات قيمتها 300 دولار امريكى لكل اسرة ، بمبلغ اجمالى قدره 22.8 مليون دولار امريكى . وفي الوقت الحالي، تتمثل أولوية الصليب الأحمر اللبناني في إيجاد سبل للحفاظ على خدماته الحيوية في مجال الصحة في حالات الطوارئ وخدمات الإسعاف، التي تقدم مجانا للسكان للاستجابة للزيادة الكبيرة في الطلب المتصلة بجائحة كوفيد19. كما يسعى إلى إيجاد سبل لتخفيف المعاناة الناجمة عن الأزمة الاقتصادية الحادة. ووفقا للبنك الدولي، حتى يونيو/حزيران 2021، يعيش أكثر من 45٪ من السكان اللبنانيين تحت خط الفقر. نبذة عن الصليب الأحمر اللبناني 1. الصليب الأحمر اللبناني هو الجهة المحلية التي توفر خدمات الإسعاف ونقل الدم في لبنان. وفي كل عام، تقدم الجمعية الوطنية خدمات مجانية لأكثر من 000 180 شخص في جميع أنحاء البلد. في أعقاب انفجار ميناء بيروت وفي سياق الخدمات العامة المتداعية، يسعى الصليب الأحمر اللبناني جاهدا الى الاستمرار في تقديم عمليات الإغاثة و إنقاذ الحياة في جميع أنحاء البلاد. 2. يدير الصليب الأحمر اللبناني أكثر من 36 مركزا للرعاية الصحية الأولية و 9عيادات متنقلة ومركزي تطعيم ضد كوفيد19 وتقوم الجمعية الوطنية حاليا بتوسيع نطاق تلك الخدمات لتكون قادرة على الاستجابة بشكل أفضل لنقص الأدوية وانخفاض فرص حصول السكان على الرعاية الصحية. 3. وأجرى المتطوعون والموظفون أكثر من 000 35 زيارة ميدانية للتقييم الوضع الإنساني للعائلات التي هي في أمس الحاجة إلى المساعدة. وقد اختيرت الأسر على أساس معايير محددة، مثل الصعوبات في تلبية الاحتياجات الأكثر إلحاحا؛ الأشخاص الذين يعانون من احتياجات الخاصة؛ العائلات التي لديها شقق متضررة أو مدمرة؛ الأشخاص الذين يعانون من إصابات ويواجهون صعوبة في الحصول على الرعاية الصحية و / في شراء الأدوية؛ الأسر التي تديرها امرأة وحدها، ؛ بالإضافة الى اعتبارات العمر. لمزيد من المعلومات أو لطلب المقابلات، يرجى الاتصال ب: في بيروت: رنا صيداني كاسو، [email protected]، 0096171802779 في جنيف: ناتالي بيرود، [email protected]، 0041795381471

Read more
16/08/2021 | National society

Middle East and North Africa Regional Office

The IFRC’s Middle East and North Africa regional office works in support of 17 National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies in the region. Through its country cluster support teams and country offices, it provides coordination, financial and technical support for disaster operations and longer-term development programmes throughout the region. Sign up to our monthly MENA newsletter for exciting stories and updates from the region.And view current country plans for MENA here.

Read more
12/08/2021 | Article

Amman Humanitarian Declaration: Concerted efforts to help as many people as possible in Iraq, Jordan and Egypt

Amman: August 12, 2021 The Iraqi, Jordanian and Egyptian Red Crescent societies and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) have agreed on the "Amman Declaration," during a tripartite meeting that took place in Amman, Jordan on 11-12 August 2021. The declaration develops a model of cooperation that is consistent with local strategic orientation and with IFRC’s strategy 2030. The partners agreed to work on a joint plan of action that addresses common challenges such as climate change, food security, livelihoods, particularly in light of the global consequences of the Covid19 pandemic on people's lives. Dr. Hossam Elsharkawi, Regional Director of IFRC MENA, said: "As partners, we are determined to adopt the best ways and mechanisms that translate our strategic visions into concrete actions on the ground. Particularly, in the fields of disaster preparedness and response, climate change, volunteer management, livelihoods and food security. We agreed to share our experiences notably in regard to working with refugees and displaced people with technical support from IFRC.” Donor fatigue and the need to find new ways of funding was one of the topics discussed. Partners agreed to develop a joint plan of action to attract resources locally and regionally. They decided as well to form a capacity strengthening task force that will develop a training roadmap to strengthen the skills of the Red Cross and Red Crescent staff and volunteers. For more information: Rana Sidani Cassou: Mobile: +96171802779 [email protected]

Read more
04/08/2021 | Press release

Red Cross extends aid to Lebanon to respond to the severe economic crisis

Beirut/Geneva, 4 August 2021 - One year on from the devastating Beirut port explosion, the number of people in need of humanitarian assistance in Lebanon continues to rise, due to the severe economic crisis and the devaluation of the local currency, amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The International Federation of Red Cross Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) continues to support the Lebanese Red Cross (LRC) with life-saving activities, reaching millions of people throughout the country. For many people who have lost their jobs and the ability to buy basic food and household goods, it has become extremely difficult to buy medicines and to access healthcare. George Kettaneh, Secretary General of the Lebanese Red Cross, said: “The severe economic crisis that our country is facing is shattering the lives of many people in Lebanon. People suffering from chronic diseases can’t wait until the economic crisis is over. They need our help now to secure basic necessities, such as food and medicine." “We are calling on the generosity of donors to help us sustain our vital public services and to fund our response to the economic crisis." Since the blast in August last year, IFRC has closely supported LRC in meeting the humanitarian needs of those affected. Specifically, IFRC has supported LRC by mobilizing resources for the emergency response and released 750,000 Swiss francs of its Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF) in the initial days following the explosion. Later, IFRC launched a 20 million Swiss francs global emergency appeal with the aim to assist more than 105,000 people. In addition, IFRC deployed specialized staff, supporting and complementing LRC’s efforts in multiple sectors; and provided financial support to ensure the continuity of LRC’s daily operations in delivering vital services to vulnerable people. Cristhian Cortez, IFRC Representative in Lebanon, said: “The IFRC and the Lebanese Red Cross are working together to extend their operations, which include emergency and primary health care, COVID-19 support, and scaling up of blood transfusion services from 42,000 to 60,000 units per year to meet the basic needs of people in Lebanon”. To date, the IFRC has raised 9.2 million Swiss francs through its global appeal. The Lebanese Red Cross has supported more than 10,800 families with direct cash assistance – comprising seven payments of 300 US dollars each per household – for a total amount of 22.8 million US dollars. Right now, the priority of the Lebanese Red Cross is to sustain its vital emergency health and ambulances services, which are provided for free to the population and to respond to the surge in demand related to the COVID-19 pandemic. It also seeks to find ways to alleviate the suffering resulting from the severe economic crisis. According to the World Bank, as of June 2021, more than 45% of the Lebanese population is now living under the poverty line. About Lebanese Red Cross Lebanese Red Cross (LRC) is the main national provider of ambulance and blood transfusion services in Lebanon. Every year, LRC provides free services to more than 180,000 people across the country. Following the Beirut port explosion and in a context of crumbling public services, LRC has been striving to maintain life-saving operations throughout the country. LRC operates a network of 36 primary health centers, 9 mobile clinics and 2 COVID-19 vaccination centres in Lebanon and is currently scaling up those services to be able to better respond to the shortage of medicines and decreased access of the population to healthcare. Volunteers and staff from LRC conducted more than 35,000 assessments to identify the households that were most in need of assistance. The families were selected based on specific vulnerability criteria, such as difficulties in meeting the most urgent needs; special needs; families with damaged or destroyed apartments; people with injuries and problems in accessing healthcare and/or buy medicines; single female-headed households; and age considerations. For more information or to arrange an interview, contact: In Beirut: Rana Sidani Cassou, [email protected], +961 71 802 779   In Geneva: Nathalie Perroud, [email protected], +41 79 538 14 71

Read more
01/08/2021 | Press release

IFRC: Inclusive vaccination and protection measures urgently needed to stop the new pandemic waves in North Africa

Beirut, 02 August 2021 – The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) in the Middle East and North Africa, is concerned that the increasing COVID-19 transmissions in the region could spark a domino effect with catastrophic health, social and economic impacts, unless vaccination rollouts are stepped up and protection measures reinforced. Algeria, Libya, Morocco, and Tunisia reported the greatest number of new cases in the past weeks, with Tunisia reporting the greatest increase in new reported deaths. Concerns for the future are mounting as variants continue to spread, health systems are on the verge of collapse and the vaccination rates in the Middle East and North Africa region continue to lag dangerously behind. Dr Haytham Qosa, Head of IFRC MENA Health Unit, said: “Leaving countries behind on vaccines will only serve to prolong the pandemic, not just in the region, but globally. Many countries are facing other vulnerabilities, including conflict, natural disasters, water shortages, displacement, and other disease outbreaks. This makes people even more vulnerable to the devastating impacts of COVID-19. This alone should be a reason enough for global solidarity to ensure equitable vaccine access in the region. At a global level, vaccine equity is key to reducing the likelihood of variants and saving lives by limiting the spread of the virus. This is the only way we can truly end this pandemic.” The Red Cross Red Crescent staff and volunteers have been on the frontline of the COVID-19 response since the outset. IFRC has been supporting the Red Cross and Red Crescent National Societies in MENA with: Efforts to accelerate vaccination campaigns in support of the national vaccination plans. Provision of cash assistance, food parcels, hygiene kits, and masks to affected people. Provision of medical supplies including oxygen concentrators, ventilators & generators, and PPEs to local health authorities. Monitoring of the vaccination campaigns for quality, standards, fairness and equity. Technical support with risk communication and community engagement. Despite lofty rhetoric about global solidarity in terms of vaccine equity, there is a deadly gap in the global plan to equitably distribute COVID-19 vaccines. In MENA region, only 10 doses per 100 people have been administered in many countries, including Libya, Algeria, Egypt, and Iraq. In Syria and Yemen, there has been less than one dose per 100 people. Dr Hosam Faysal, Head of IFRC MENA Disasters, Climate and Crises Unit, coordinating the IFRC response to COVID-19, said: “The new waves of the pandemic remind us that the battle against it is unfortunately not yet over. However, it also highlights the critical role of the our Red Cross and Red Crescent staff and volunteers as trusted local actors who are able to quickly response to new surges of cases. Across the region they are working tirelessly to support health system, help protect communities and ensure vaccines make it into arms of the most vulnerable. But without more vaccines, there cannot be vaccinations.” Notes to Editors Algeria: In the past 4 weeks, we have seen a sharp increase in COVID-19 infections. In response to the latest peak, the Algerian Red Crescent (ARCS) has scaled up the COVID-19 activities quickly once the numbers climbed up to alarming level but the situation is far from over. More than 2 million people have already been vaccinated by ARCS doctors and nurses not only in cities but also in remote areas. Many vaccinations centers have been opened recently to reach the national target set by authorities to reach 20 million people by the end of 2021. More than 20,000 ARCS volunteers are fully active: Supporting authorities in the vaccination campaigns. Distributing 2 million masks since the start of the pandemic and 100.000 hygiene kits for families living in remote areas. Providing Oxygen concentrators to hospitals in the “hot Spot” areas. Tunisia: In the past weeks, Tunisia registered its highest number of daily COVID-19 deaths since the start of the pandemic as the Delta variant of the coronavirus spreads and vaccine availability remains low. The health care system is struggling to cope especially the intensive care departments that are full and doctors overburdened by a rapid outbreak of cases and deaths. Tunisia has one of the highest per capita death rates in the world. Vaccinations have been slow. As of 29 July 2021 and according to WHO, of the 11.7 million population, 1.677446 million were vaccinated with at least one shot (14.1% ) whereas 934,004 ( 7.9% ) are fully vaccinated. The Tunisian Red Crescent as auxiliary body to the public authorities has been scaling up its response to the increased humanitarian needs and focusing on supporting the health system in country with risk communication campaigns,  homecare provision of Oxygen concentrators as well as the provision of PPEs such as masks and other materials to front-line health workers. 3,000 volunteers deployed from 24 branches all over the country continue raising awareness campaigns, helping population registering on the E-Vax platform especially the elderly, migrants and people in most distant rural areas, providing at the same time food and hygiene kits assistance. In almost all vaccination centers, TRC volunteers assist health workers in checking registration, appointments, and onsite immediate post vaccination monitoring. In the past two weeks, the IFRC, Qatar Red Crescent and Kuwait Red Crescent have shipped more than ten tons of medical equipment, including oxygen concentrators, ventilators, personal protective equipment and sanitizer to the Tunisian Red Crescent. TRC has reached 10 million people since the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak by raising awareness campaigns in public places and institutions, conducting screening and triage, and managing queues in front of public facilities and vaccination centres. Morocco: There is a sharp increase in cases in the past 4 weeks. 40% increase in the number of COVID-19 infections in week 29 compared to the previous week. As of 14 July, only 27% of the population is fully vaccinated. The Moroccan Red Crescent has mobilized more than 2,000 volunteers to support the vaccination campaigns alongside MRCS doctors and nurses. In addition, 5,000 volunteers are active in 75 branches all over the country to sensitize the population about the importance of vaccine and reinforce the respect of risk communication messages. In support from IFRC, MRCS distributes food, medicines, hygiene items, masks to communities in urban settings an in remote areas reaching at least 190,000 households. The pandemic is affecting the mental health of the population. 150 volunteers trained on psychosocial first aid, manage the hotline to listen to community, provide emotional first aid, receive requests for medicines, food, etc. Libya:The COVID-19 pandemic is adding another layer of crisis on years of armed conflict in Libya that has led to a weakened health care system, a dire economic situation, a lack of basic services and serious humanitarian conditions suffered by migrants transiting to through the Mediterranean. Libya is currently witnessing an increase in the number of COVID-19 cases, where on the 13th of July it recorded its highest daily rate of COVID 19 infections with 2,679 new cases, a 161% increase compared to the previous week. With the low rate of vaccination, these concerning figures promises a serious wave that can further shatter the country. To combat this wave, Libya has imposed new precautionary measures to curb infection rates that included the closure of the borders with neighbouring Tunisia on the 8th of July, the closure of coffee shops and restaurants, the banning of weddings and funerals and the halting of public transportation for two weeks. The Libyan Red Crescent Society (LRCS), in coordination with IFRC, has been supporting host communities and migrants with food, hygiene items, health services, child protection, Humanitarian Service Points for Migrants and the engagement in Risk Communication and Community Engagement (RCCE) activities around COVID-19 prevention and the importance of immunization against the disease The LRCS is playing a key role in managing vaccination sites all over Libya with the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC). The LRCS has directly reached 35,500 persons in its response to COVID-19 through support from the IFRC. For more information In Beirut: Rana Sidani Cassou, Head of Communications, IFRC MENA, +96171802779 [email protected]

Read more
08/04/2021 | Press release

New Red Cross Red Crescent analysis shows deep inequalities in COVID-19 response across Middle East and North Africa

Beirut, 8 April 2021 (IFRC) – The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) is seeking “urgent and sizeable investment” to ensure the region’s pandemic response leaves no one behind. While no one has been spared from the effects of COVID-19, the consequences of this pandemic have not been equally felt. This crisis has been defined by profound and persistent inequities both in terms of who is most at risk, and how the world has responded. New analysis released today by the IFRC highlights significant inequalities in COVID-19 vaccination rates across the MENA region. According to this analysis: Less than 5 per cent of vaccine doses administered in MENA Region have been administered in the eight countries facing severe or very severe humanitarian crises. Only a third (37 per cent) of doses of COVID-19 vaccine administered in MENA Region have been reported administered in countries experiencing any type of humanitarian crisis, whether conflict, complex emergencies, displacement, or others. Among MENA countries that have administered any vaccine doses, the country reporting the most doses per capita, UAE, reports having administered 510 times more doses per capita than Algeria. Hossam Khalil Elsharkawi, Regional Director of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), said: “The Middle East and North Africa hosts some of the world’s most protracted humanitarian crises. This analysis shows that people in these settings are more likely than the general population to be infected, are more likely to die once infected, and are least likely to be appropriately supported through the response, including through vaccination campaigns. “While there is clearly a growing recognition of the importance of equitable vaccine access, this is not yet translating into investment in all the systems that are needed to turn this ambition into a reality. The Red Cross Red Crescent Movement plan focuses on reaching the last mile and ensuring that no one is left behind. To continue to play this role, we need urgent and sizeable investment.” Many countries in MENA are now rolling out COVID-19 vaccination as a pathway to end the acute phase of the pandemic. Fifteen out of a total of 17 countries have now administered at least one dose, with more than 25 million doses having been administered mainly in Gulf countries. However, for middle- and low-income countries, the vaccine procurement and vaccination roll-out rely fully on international cooperation and support that will take some time to cover (or reach) all priority populations and the last mile populations (migrants, refugees, IDPs). The analysis also finds deep inequalities in broader COVID-19 health measures in the region: The least developed countries in MENA (as measured by the Human Development Index - HDI) have carried out the fewest tests per capita. Among MENA countries reporting testing data, countries with a "very high" HDI reported having carried out eight times (863 per cent) more tests per capita than countries with a Medium Human Development Index. (There is no testing data available for the one MENA country with “Low” HDI). This regional analysis comes following the launch of a new International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement plan that aims to tackle “deep and pervasive” inequities in the global response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement has been at the frontline of the pandemic response. The revised International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement plan is designed to counter some of the more severe inequities by expanding care, treatment and support for people in all countries, including those affected by humanitarian crises such as conflict and disasters. The plan also includes a range of measures designed to support and extend COVID-19 immunization campaigns so that marginalized and isolated groups can access vaccines. In all, the revised International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement appeal seeks 2.729 billion Swiss francs, with 274 million earmarked for the MENA region. To read the revised Movement plan, visit the Covid-19 emergency page. Notes to editors The analysis of where vaccines have been administered; the relative reach of testing; and which countries carry out full, partial or no contact tracing is based on Oxford University’s ‘Our World in Data’ (latest available data used) and theINFORM Severity Index –an inter-agency tool that measures the severity of humanitarian crises and disasters globally (January 2021 data used). For a full list of countries listed against crisis severity, visitINFORM Severity index. All datasets have some gaps. While half (50 per cent) of MENA countries facing "no crisis" have contact tracing available, the same is true in only 20 per cent of MENA countries facing any type of crisis, whether displacement, conflict, political/economic, or other.

Read more
04/02/2021 | Press release

Six months after Beirut Blast: Deteriorating humanitarian situation needs global solidarity

The Lebanese Red Cross (LRC) and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) appeal for continued global solidarity with the Lebanese people who are suffering from a multi-layered humanitarian crisis. Six months after the Beirut Port Explosion, people have become poorer and sicker, as well as are in urgent need of humanitarian support to cover basic necessities such as food and healthcare. In addition to the economic crisis and civil unrest, Lebanon is witnessing high numbers of COVID-19 infections. Currently, the LRC hotline receives more than 4,000 calls every day, related mostly to coronavirus patients. While the number of people infected by COVID-19 keeps increasing, hospitals are reporting near-full occupancy in beds and intensive care units. In response to this situation, LRC has launched an initiative to provide home oxygen machines to COVID-19 patients who suffer from respiratory difficulties but can’t find a place in a hospital. “We call on donors to support our life-saving services, as we have lost more than 50% of our funding as a result of the economic crisis and the devaluation of the local currency,” says Georges Kettaneh, LRC Secretary General. “LRC already had a major responsibility in providing ambulance and blood services throughout Lebanon, and now we have been called upon to do more and more. Our volunteers and staff are rising to the challenge, but for us to continue doing it, we need support from partners and donors. We need all the support possible – now more than ever,” urges Kettaneh. IFRC is working closely with Lebanese Red Cross who is witnessing a large increase in the demand for its life-saving services. “Every day, the number of Lebanese people who need assistance is increasing. The needs are immense, and many are unmet,” says Cristhian Cortez Cardoza, Head of IFRC Lebanon Country Office. “The solidarity with Lebanon has been most appreciated, but more support is still needed,” Cardoza concludes. Since the explosion, Lebanese Red Cross has provided food parcels, hygiene kits, primary healthcare services, blood units and ambulance services to more than 250,000 people. In addition, Lebanese Red Cross committed 20.5 million USD to support 9,800 most vulnerable affected families by providing them monthly 300 USD financial assistance for 7 months to manage their basic needs. By the 20th January 2021, the affected families had received the third round of direct financial assistance. The explosion at Beirut port rippled through several areas of the capital, damaging homes of more than 300,000 people, killing more than 200 and wounding thousands. Donations to Lebanese Red Cross can be made here.

Read more
03/12/2020 | Article

4 months since the Beirut explosion: Lebanese Red Cross Secretary-General explains the situation now

On the 4th of August, a massive explosion occurred in the port area of Beirut, capital of Lebanon, injuring more than 6500 people and affecting the lives of hundreds of thousands. Four months later, a lot has been done but the work is far from finished. Secretary-General of the Lebanese Red Cross (LRC), Georges Kettaneh, what are the needs of the affected people four months after the explosions? [caption id="attachment_70771" align="alignright" width="200"] The Lebanese Red Cross Secretary-General Georges Kettaneh[/caption] People need three things: cash, health services and reconstruction of their houses. We are supporting with the minor repairs and providing cash assistance to the families assessed to be in the most vulnerable situation. We continue the lead in the ambulance services and blood transfusions. We are active in primary health care services, providing mental health support, restoring family links and dead body management. We are also responding to the COVID-19 pandemic in many ways. How was the situation when the explosion happened on the 4th of August? We had, and still have, an emergency contingency plan to manage unset emergencies. But the Beirut Port explosion was something we had not prepared for or even imagined in our wildest risk assessment exercises. We acknowledge that the humanitarian needs were too big for us to manage completely. In 2 minutes, the blast caused devastation beyond imagination. People lost their lives, homes, loved ones. When we went to the streets to assess the needs, we found bodies of people laying on the ground. We started our needs assessment as soon as possible to have the data that helped us to set priorities. Many people left their houses that were destroyed so we could not reach them. Now, they are coming back to us asking to be included. We had to evacuate people affected by COVID-19 and other patients from the destroyed hospitals to the ones that remained functional, either in Beirut or outside the capital. How is the mental health of the Lebanese Red Cross staff and volunteers? We Lebanese often like to project a positive image about ourselves pretending that we are doing fine. But in reality, we have been shaken to the bones. Our volunteers and staff need psychological support as all Lebanese people do. Personally, I went through many challenging situations throughout my 20-year career as a humanitarian. During the war in Lebanon, I evacuated 21 bodies in 1986 in an explosion in Northern Beirut. I was kidnapped many times. I was under fire from snipers several times. All of this affected me for sure. But the Beirut explosion has been by far the most difficult thing to witness. When the blast took place, people called me on my mobile screaming that they were injured pleading me to evacuate them. We mobilized all the ambulances and volunteers we could, even the retired ones. Some of the ambulances were not able to reach people because the roads were blocked by the rubble. Paramedics were hearing injured screaming under the rubble of their houses but they were not able to reach them. As a humanitarian, this is your scariest nightmare.This affected me a lot. Some of my acquaintances and friends died. We all need mental health support in this situation, and the Lebanese Red Cross is doing as much as possible to provide it to everyone willing to receive it. What have you learned from the explosion and the response operation? The explosions were a force majeure. We were not prepared for such a thing. We didn’t envisage an explosion in the port. We were fully stretched by the COVID-19 as well as in providing first-aid, COVID-19 awareness and responding otherwise to the demonstrations in various parts of the country. No matter how overwhelmed we might be, we should always be prepared for the worse. Another learning we got when we started to distribute relief item boxes. At first, we had 400 boxes but only 100 people showed up at the collection points. The community members that were affected by the blast, did not come to the street to receive the relief items they urgently needed. Culturally, coming to the public for the aid was hard for them. We realized we need to adjust our approach to fit the sensitivities of the community. We decided to distribute the relief items from door-to-door even if it meant more work for us. Then, people were very happy to receive the aid as their dignity was intact. Does the Lebanese Red Cross have enough resources to help the people in need? We have gotten enough donations to provide cash assistance for 10,000 families. We are providing 300 US dollars per month to the most vulnerable affected families to cover their basic needs. You can read more about the cash assistance on the Lebanese Red Cross website. The demand would go beyond the 10,000 families but we don’t have resources for more. We are thankful for all the donations and support we have received from IFRC, ICRC and Partnering National Societies as well as other partners. We have worked together as one in the response to the explosion. From the Lebanese diaspora and companies, we have received more than 20 million USD as they regarded us as a neutral and trusted organization. What comes to the economic crisis in Lebanon, we don’t have enough for responding to that in long term. For example, we need to provide livelihood support and shelter for the people, including the Syrian refugees. In this situation, being transparent and accountable is crucial. Therefore, we have hired an international audit company to monitor our performance and to be as transparent as possible. [box] Key figures 3,741 Individuals treated & transported by ambulance 14,499 individuals received primary health support 13,895 blood units distributed to hospitals 22,001 households with 110,005 individuals received food parcels & hygiene kits 49,127 door-to-door household assessments completed 6,019 individuals affected by COVID-19 transported 16,437 individuals received psycho-social support 9,744 vulnerable families received cash assistance [/box] [box] Appeal Update: The Lebanese Red Cross launched an appeal for 19 million USD to continue providing emergency medical services and relief operations during the first three months. IFRC, in support of LRC plan, has appealed for 20 million Swiss francs (21.8 million US dollars) to scale up health, shelter and livelihood support over the coming 24 months. Read more on the Lebanon Red Cross website. [/box] Media contacts: In Beirut: Rana Sidani Cassou, +961 71802779, [email protected]

Read more
10/11/2020 | Article

A pandemic reminds us why health care professionals are so valuable

Each nurse and midwife who joined the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement has a different story, but they share a common passion: to care for those in need.“I have a big heart that prompts me to engage in humanitarian work in all sectors, whether in times of peace, war, or natural disasters,” said Etidal Abdo Nasser Al-Qabati, a Yemeni nurse and midwife who has specialized in practical nursing and midwifery for three years and studied for four years to become a paramedic.The World Health Organization (WHO) has designated 2020 as the “International Year of the Nurse and the Midwife,” in honor of the 200th anniversary of Florence Nightingale’s birth. This year, according to WHO, the world needs 9 million more nurses and midwives if it is to achieve universal health coverage by 2030.‘’I started to volunteer for humanitarian work, with the Yemeni Red Crescent, in 1973, and fell in love with nursing and helping others,’’ said Etidal, who is known as ‘Mama Etidal.’ “My biggest pain is knowing that we can conduct rescue missions but lack the necessary resources.”Etidal started as a @YemenCrescent volunteer, now she is a professional nurse and midwife: “My long experience and big heart prompt me to humanitarian work.” She is the one who protects the dignity of mothers and women during the most difficult times. #YearOfTheNurseAndMidwife pic.twitter.com/5pnQXElVtf— IFRC Middle East and North Africa (@IFRC_MENA) November 6, 2020 Lebanese midwife Pascale Rizk, joined the International Committee of the Red Cross in 2017 and chose this profession ‘’because it is amongst the most noble professions in the world”.‘’The relationship that the certified midwife builds with the couple is outstandingly beautiful. Indeed, she witnesses the couple’s greatest moment of joy. And the most sacred event of their lifetime, i.e. the arrival of their newborn.’’According to Pascale, midwifery and nursing are misperceived by society. ‘’Honestly, when people used to ask me what I did for a living, I would answer by saying ‘a certified midwife,’ and the first response that I would get was: ‘Oh, so you’re a doula?’ People don’t realize that certified midwives are one of the pillars of the medical sector. ‘’Nurses and midwives play a vital role in providing health services and are often the first and only points of care in their communities. Nurses in the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement have long been at the frontlines, in war, natural disasters and in combating major diseases like Ebola, SARS, coronaviruses and lately COVID-19, often putting their lives at risk."The core of our work is saving other people's lives," says Pascale, a #midwife at @ICRC_lb.#Midwives reduce suffering and protect the dignity of mothers and women during the most difficult times: war, disasters and disease outbreaks such as COVID-19.#YearOfTheNurseAndMidwife pic.twitter.com/DH7Gelr6FC— IFRC Middle East and North Africa (@IFRC_MENA) November 8, 2020 Muhsin Ghalib, an Iraqi Red Crescent nursing officer, has chosen the nursing profession because it is a vocation that helps preserve human rights. Ghalib narrates an unforgettable experience where he witnessed the death of a young man who was helping his father at the hospital. “I can never forget this experience, because the father was the one who was sick, but ended up staying alive. Whereas his son, who was perfectly healthy, passed away just like that.’’Today, health care workers need #solidarity, not #stigma. Thank them and show them your support every day. By doing this, you help yourself and others to stay safe.Think what would happen if we don’t have enough #nurses and #midwives#YearOfTheNurseAndMidwife @iraqircs pic.twitter.com/EDsgGKU364— IFRC Middle East and North Africa (@IFRC_MENA) November 5, 2020 It is pivotal to create and respect a humanitarian space in order to allow Red Cross and Red Crescent volunteers and health workers to care for people in need and alleviate human suffering among the most vulnerable and hardest-to-reach communities.Health workers who dedicate themselves to saving lives deserve society’s respect. They must not be prevented from reaching those in need.Nurses and midwives have devoted their lives to saving and caring for others. In return, we should protect, respect, recognize and give thanks nurses, midwives and all health workers at all times.Elias from @YemenCrescent was granted a #FlorenceNightingale medal – the highest award one can get in #HealthCareSector.#Midwives and #nurses are needed today more than ever before, and they must be appreciated by everyone. Thank you for what you do! #YearOfTheNurseAndMidwife pic.twitter.com/jUHiflcwj7— IFRC Middle East and North Africa (@IFRC_MENA) November 4, 2020

Read more
05/11/2020 | Article

IFRC Regional Director Dr. Elsharkawi: Egyptian Red Crescent Shows Localization at its Core

“I am impressed and inspired how the Egyptian Red Crescent (ERC) has scaled up and modernized services to respond to many emergencies, including COVID19," says Dr. Hossam Elsharkaw, IFRC Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). "I was happy to meet ERC dedicated staff and volunteers working to preserve dignity. They are a strong and diverse teams of men and women working in the front lines. They are potentially a pool of expertise that can benefit the whole region and beyond." IFRC Regional Director and Ms. Rania Ahmed, Deputy Regional Director visited the Egyptian Red Crescent in Cairo earlier this week to discussstrategic directions, the programmes, the challenges, and the cooperation with the Government and the communities. The visit included strategic meetings with Dr. Nevine El Kabbaj, Minister of Social Solidarity and Dr. Rami Al Naser, the Director General. Minister Nevine El Kabbaj, praised the collaboration with the Egyptian Red Crescent and the role the National Society has been playing in COVID-19 response. Including interventions in the areas of public awareness and behavioral change campaigns, health clinics, food distributions, mental health and psycho-social support. Dr. El Kabbaj encouraged investing in Mental Health and Psychosocial support and expanding the services to support other countries in Africa and beyond. Dr. Elsharkawi reiterated the role of IFRC in support of ERC and other National Societies in the MENA region, including focused commitment to capacity strengthening, stronger partnership, coordination and resource mobilization. One of the main highlights of the visit was the Red Crescent Community Center in the area of Zeinhom, one of the oldest neighborhoods in Cairo. The center ensures tackling the needs of the public from a holistic approach, providing, health, mental health, child protection, education and income generating opportunities and trainings for women, youth and education of children. “Hundreds of people benefit from Zeinhom center. Great example of how the Egyptian Red Crescent responds to the needs and emphasis the trust and acceptance among the communities. This is trusted access and localization at its core," Dr. Elsharkawi says. The team visited as well the blood bank and witnessed the high quality and standards applied to ensure a safe national blood supply. Dr. Elsharkawi visited ERC programs related to health, migration, livelihood and protection: “Red Crescent staff and volunteers efforts go way beyond the emergency response and disseminating the health messages. ERC is supporting communities, including migrants and refugees with socio-economic and income-generating activities.” Egyptian Red Crescent is the largest national provider of humanitarian and relief services in Egypt.

Read more
12/09/2020 | Article

BRCS and Calmmess Support Beirut with Art and Donations

Beirut/Al-Manama, 11 September 2020: The Bahraini group dedicated to painting and fine art lovers, Calmmess, has extended its exhibition “Let us Gather with Art and Love for Beirut” that is taking place at the gate number 4 of City Center-Bahrain Mall in Al-Manama until Monday, the 14th of September on the account of its popularity. This initiative was launched jointly with the Bahraini Red Crescent Society (BRCS) on the 6th of this month in solidarity with the Lebanese people after the explosion in Port of Beirut on the 4th of August, which killed over hundred, injured thousands, and left hundreds of thousands of people homeless. “Let us Gather with Art and Love for Beirut” came as a virtual event by Calmmess that brought together 20 painting lovers of all ages. They cooperated to disseminate a love and hope message and support those who got affected by the catastrophe of Beirut. Ameena Ahmed Majed and Danah Naser Al Sayed, the founders of Calmmess, said: “The number of participants reflects the talents and capabilities in spreading peace and togetherness for a humanitarian cause. It also sheds light on the promising Bahraini talents. This is the first art exhibition curated by our Group, and we trust the chances of being in even bigger exhibitions in the future.” A host of artists and amateurs took part in the exhibition, assigning the sale of their works proceeds to the BRCS, which will send these donations to the Lebanese Red Cross Society (LRCS). Moubarak Al-Hadi, the acting Secretary General and the General Director of the BRCS, stressed on the importance of efficient coordination with the LRCS, describing it as a trusted partner to deliver the necessary aids to the affected people in Beirut. Ali Kahdem Madan, the Head of the Public Relations Committee in BRCS, said that the Society intensified its efforts by adding an art booth, “Ya Beirut”, at City Center-Bahrain. “[the booth] Is characterized by the enthusiastic commitment of our volunteers, who alternate to manage it from 10 in the morning until 10 at night. This initiative, that aims to mobilize the Bahraini society to contribute in the BRCS’ effort and back up our Lebanese brothers during their ordeal, saw a considerable interaction by the famous Social Media names in Bahrain.” The BRCS valued the response of the Mall’s visitors and their financial contributions as well as the donations of the Lebanese Community to assist the affected families by the explosion. At the time of Beirut Port’s blast, the BRCS hurried to offer aids and assistance, and lend a helping hand with the available resources. The BRCS continues to work closely with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), the LRCS, and the partners in the International Movement to assess the humanitarian situation in Beirut and provide ongoing support. Majed and Al Sayed find that volunteering and fundraising for public issues are stronghold in Bahrain. “We believe the Bahraini society and youth are forerunners of philanthropy and humanitarian volunteering at all levels. And such activities aren’t strange to the BRCS that reacts for the good and for the benefit of the humanitarian causes.” Majed clarifies how “the art is my breathing space and a room for relaxation, beauty, and calmness.” While Al Sayed considers it “a mirror of the charm of life and nature shaped in paintings.” This isn’t the first time the BRCS engages in the humanitarian aspect of arts. Madan explained how the Society collected donations for the families in need inside and outside Bahrain through “Let’s Stop Their Hunger” campaign in “The Avenues” Mall in Al-Manama during the past Holy month and Fitr Celebration. The Mall’s goers worked on decorating and ornamenting empty plates to ultimately buy them and donate the money to the families in need. The initiative attracted a number of renowned Bahraini artists, who transformed the white plates into art pieces displayed on the donation campaign’s booth walls.

Read more
04/09/2020 | Article

Beirut Port Explosions: Survivors’ Needs on the Rise While Normal Life Seems Far Away

Beirut, 4 September 2020: One month after the devastating port explosions in Beirut, the humanitarian needs of the survivors remain unmet and are growing every day. The horrific disaster on 4 August killed at least 190 people, injured some 6,500 others, and left 300,000 homeless. The volunteers and staff of the Lebanese Red Cross are supporting more than 106,000 of the most vulnerable survivors with ambulance and medical services, psycho-social support, and assessing their short-term and long-term needs. More than 6,000 households have been assessed to date, and the overwhelming majority – 96 per cent - need assistance with shelters, home repairs, medical care, medications especially for chronic diseases, cash and food assistance. Because of banking restrictions since October 2019, only 13 per cent reported having savings that they could access. Mr. George Kettaneh, Secretary General of the Lebanese Red Cross, said: “In the very near future, the Lebanese Red Cross will start to distribute direct cash support for at least 10,000 families. We will spend 5 million US dollars every month on direct cash distribution to enable people having some level of dignity in buying their own food and fulfilling their own needs. “In view of the impact and severity of this disaster, many people will depend on national and international donor support for a long time before they can rebuild their lives and their livelihoods.” The assessments indicate that more than over half of the survivors assessed (57 per cent) have a family member living with a chronic illness that requires medication, 8 per cent are living with a disability, and 5 per cent are pregnant and lactating mothers. There have been serious psychological and mental health impact on the general population, including staff and volunteers of Lebanese Red Cross. While the long-term effects are yet to be assessed, the Lebanese Red Cross is providing psycho-social support in three locations near the blast area. Its volunteers and staff are also working to maintain regular services such as emergency medical services and blood transfusion. Dr. Hossam Elsharkawi, Middle East North Africa Regional Director at the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), said: “The explosion is no longer in the headlines, but it is still affecting the lives of hundreds of thousands of people who desperately need shelter repairs, medical care, medications, cash, and food. The Lebanese Red Cross are doing everything they can, but they need our and donors support to do more.” The Lebanese Red Cross launched an appeal for 19 million USD to continue providing emergency medical services and relief operations during the first three months. IFRC, in support of LRC plan, has appealed for 20 million Swiss francs (21.8 million US dollars) to scale up health, shelter and livelihood support over the coming 24 months. Donate here: https://supportlrc.app/. Media contacts: In Beirut: Rana Sidani Cassou, [email protected]

Read more
05/08/2020 | Article

Beirut disaster: Lebanese Red Cross responds to port explosion

Hundreds of Lebanese Red Cross emergency medical personnel and 75 ambulances are still at the scene of yesterday’s devastating explosion at the Port of Beirut, looking for survivors and rushing injured people to hospital for life-saving treatment. More than 100 people are feared dead and thousands were injured in the disaster, and many people are still missing. The Lebanese Red Cross has set up triageand first aid stations to ensure that people with non-critical injuries can be treated and comforted while the worst-affected survivors are being taken to hospital. The blast rippled through several areas of the capital, shattering windows and doors, and wounding many people. There are reports of significant damage to structures in the nearby downtown area – mostly broken windows due to the blast and collapsing balconies. The Jordanian Seismological Observatory has estimated that the explosion was equivalent to a 4.5 magnitude earthquake, and the sound of the blast could be heard as far away as Cyprus, located 240km away in the Mediterranean Sea. The cause of the disaster remains unclear and investigations are still underway. You can support the Lebanese Red Cross' disaster response work here.

Read more
10/07/2020 | Press release

Red Cross Red Crescent alarmed at increase in migrant drownings in Mediterranean 

Beirut/Budapest/Geneva, 10 July 2020 – Red Crescent societies in Tunisia and Libya are seeing an increase in drownings on the shores of North Africa. Warmer weather and relaxed COVID-19 lockdowns are thought to be behind an increase in numbers of people attempting to cross the Mediterranean from North Africa to Europe. Many are not surviving the perilous journey, with 20 per cent more people estimated to have died in June this year as opposed to last year, according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM). IFRC President Francesco Rocca said: “While Red Cross volunteers in Italy support those who have managed to survive the crossing, unfortunately on the other side of the Mediterranean, both Libyan and Tunisian Red Crescent volunteers are left to collect the bodies of those who didn’t.” Libyan and Tunisian Red Crescent volunteers have the difficult task of finding the bodies of those who perish along the shoreline and transferring them with dignity to local hospitals. In the month of June alone, Red Crescent teams recovered 26 bodies in Libya and more than 30 in Tunisia. President Rocca said: “Each person who dies trying to cross that deadly stretch of water is more than just a statistic. They are someone who was full of hope for a better future, with family and friends who loved them, who likely faced countless hardships along the way only to have their life ended, we cannot forget this.” More than twice the number of people have arrived on the shores of Italy this year compared to the same time as last year, according to the UN. However, this does not paint the full picture of the situation. The Italian government has declared its ports unsafe since April due to COVID-19 and any disembarkation of migrants has either been prevented until they can be rerouted to other countries or has been substantially delayed. This results in migrants being left on board for long periods of time with limited access to health, protection or any other type of assistance. When they do arrive, Italian Red Cross volunteers are the first people they see, providing first aid and psychosocial support, facilitating quarantine measures and sharing information. “Year after year the crossings continue. Our fear is that the situation will only get worse, with the deepening economic crisis caused by COVID-19,” said President Rocca. “We know that migrants already struggle with a lack of access to healthcare and hygiene facilities. They are too scared to seek help when sick and it is almost impossible for them to keep a physical distance from others in crowded refugee camps. These can all be contributing factors to people making the decision to attempt the crossing.” Saving lives at sea and providing migrantswith effective opportunities to access assistance and protection are collective responsibilities. EU Member States cannot face this alone. Across the sea, North and Central African countries also should not be left alone: humanity and solidarity are the only answers.

Read more
02/07/2020 | Article

Volunteering with IRCS: Personal Transcendence and Societal Responsibility

“You give but little when you give of your possessions.It is when you give of yourself that you truly give.”– Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet. Randa El Ozeir: Choosing to volunteer with the Iraqi Red Crescent Society (IRCS) is not to be taken lightly given the unrest and divisions the country has been grappled with for decades. “I still vividly remember an incident I went through in 2010,” recalled Ibrahim Ali Ibrahim, a seasoned volunteer with the IRCS. “I was still a fresh volunteer when I narrowly escaped being killed. I was carrying some detainees’ letters to their parents through the Red Cross at the time, travelling from Baghdad to Babel on a bus along with other civilian passengers. We came across a checkpoint for Al-Qaida in Latifiya area. One of the armed men, who was Iraqi, got on our bus and started a scrutinizing inspection, which sent a chill up my spine. What if he snatched my bag and interpreted my job with the Red Cross from his own angle, thinking that they are the crusaders?! He asked me for my ID, I told him that I was a student, which was true. Gunshots were echoing outside, and all I was thinking of “what if he ordered me to get off?” There would have been no turning back; only an unfortunate fate.” Whenever Ibrahim recalls this incident, he relives its frightening scenes vividly. “If it weren’t for a female passenger who appealed to the armed man in a motherly tone, I would have faced a horrible fate. After 30 minutes of absolute silence, I opened my mouth to thank my rescuer”. It is a totally different story when we come to a life-threatening moment. “When you know that the person facing you does not care about anything, when you know you cannot be protected by anyone, you feel that you’re nearing your end. The cars ahead of us were emptied from their male passengers who got shot. I would have joined those unlucky men!” Ibrahim stayed on path and the reward came “when I handed the letter in from a detainee whose mother thought he was killed by the Americans. When I delivered the good news, the father came running full-force, and the mother kissed me four times. At that moment, I beamed with heroic pride”. But volunteering with the IRCS does not always have a happy ending, thorny periods are bound to happen. After Ibrahim saved a five-year-old girl who got hit by a car in 2017 when he was a paramedic with IRCS between Karbala and Babel during Ashura, she passed away at the hospital few days later. “The girl fell a few meters farther from the accident’s location due to the collision’s impact and was unconscious. Her head was wounded. I saw the real sorrow and the tragedy in her mother’s and brother’s eyes. The blood was a sign of a possible bleeding in the head. There was pulse but no breath. I frantically started the first-aid procedure, then the girl threw up blood and resumed breathing and crying.” Ibrahim has earned lately a certificate to train paramedics. He has a background in analytic chemistry and teaches chemistry while still working on his Ph.D. “The fear I encounter doesn’t put me in the regret zone at all. Up to now, my work with the IRCS has been my breathing space. It brings me closer to the real and true life, the life of vulnerable and poor people. It makes me realize that I am not only a professor at the university who lives a normal life full of consumerism and leisure.” The beginning could be confusing as much as compensating. Safa Alaa Kamal, who joined the IRCS in 2016 and fully concentrates today, as an administrator and a volunteer, on women and children, said, “during my very first filed visit, which happens to be in a refugee camp in the north of Iraq, I felt overwhelmed with conflicting pull-push emotions. On one hand, I was unnerved to fail in helping adequately the displaced people who opened up to me and revealed their own struggles. On the other hand, I was proud of doing my role in alleviating their burden by letting them share their feelings in a safe space. They boosted my self-confidence as a likable volunteer.” Kamal’s drive to volunteering comes from a religious stance and from a societal sense of responsibility. “Volunteers are a crucial component of the society’s development. I believe that God creates every human being to fulfill a unique purpose, and I understood this since the day I learned that each one of us, including the identical twins, has their matchless eye iris print. I am planning on staying an IRCS’ volunteer for the benefit of my community. I want to leave for my children more advanced and cognizant surroundings.” Prior to COVID-19, Kamal used to contribute in awareness sessions for women, but due to social distancing and the curfew, she moved to arranging and doing home visits throughout Baghdad’s districts to deliver crucial info about preventing the virus. “Women are not created only to procreate and bring up children. They contribute in building an educated, healthy, and conscious society. I enjoy being a volunteer and living in a state of satisfaction, as this fills me with positive energy to invest in caring for my family and balancing between the two.” All through her years of volunteering, Kamal has never faced any gender discrimination, “at the contrary, being a woman made me more understanding of what families are going through. From my observation, the female volunteers are more in tune with others, and our communities want people who totally get their needs and recognize their sufferings. And our IRCS’ uniform with its emblem acts like an official permit to access all places. The IRCS is esteemed from everybody and is highly regarded for its good deeds and its humanitarian role.” “There’s always disappointment and joy,” concluded Ibrahim, “I think the joy balances out everything else and keeps me going. I can see what is going on behind the scenes. My work with the IRCS helps me to transcend and alleviate the innate human tendency to self-interest and selfishness. Others around me do not always look at it from this angle and they wonder why I spend my time in a place with no money when I can teach instead. The answer is crystal clear for me: volunteering takes from my time to give me an inner spirituality that no one can perceive except the person who does it.”

Read more
19/06/2020 | Press release

COVID-19: Red Cross and Red Crescent urge more support for displaced people in the Middle East North Africa region

Beirut, 19 June 2020– Ahead of World Refugee Day on 20 June, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is increasingly concerned that migrants, refugees and internally displaced people are falling through the cracks. All people, regardless of their status, should be provided humanitarian assistance. “We know that migrants, refugees and internally displaced people are amongst the most vulnerable people in the region, and amongst that group especially women and children,” said Dr. Hossam Elsharkawi, head of the IFRC for the Middle East North Africa region. “They are particularly at risk for health complications and violence, their temporary accommodation can be crowded, often with inadequate sanitation and shelter or little access to medical care and good nutrition”. Red Cross Red Crescent National Societies across the region are working directly with authorities and international agencies to ensure that refugees, migrants and internally displaced people are included as part of all COVID-19 response operations. “Our Red Cross and Red Crescent teams on the ground are also seeing an increase in stigmatization towards displaced people,”said Elsharkawi. “We know that stigma as well as misinformation could prevent potentially infected people from seeking care – and this needs to be taken just as seriously as the virus itself.” Discrimination, language barriers and legal status can prevent people from accessing life-saving prevention and health information, and Red Cross and Red Crescent teams across the region are ensuring that people on the move can access information to keep themselves and their families safe – no matter their reading ability, dialect or country of origin. In Libya, the Libyan Red Crescent has done awareness campaigns targeting internally displaced people and migrants outside detention centres. They have also recently set up humanitarian service points to provide basic information to migrants and internally displaced people, distribute food and other basic necessities, as well support restoring family links activities. In Egypt, more than 200 migrant volunteers have been engaged in the response to provide support in local languages. In Iraq, the Iraqi Red Crescent Society has reached more than 50,000 people on the move and more than 6,000 Syrian refugees with health awareness sessions across 50 camps. In Jordan, the Jordan Red Crescent Society is targeting host communities as well as Syrian refugees with critical prevention messaging as well as distributing food baskets. In Tunisia, the Tunisian Red Crescent has been sharing COVID-19 health and hygiene information in migrant centres. “We know that many displaced people depend on humanitarian assistance for survival, and during this crisis we must continue to look for alternate and innovative ways to deliver assistance, in conditions that protect the health of both displaced people as well as staff and volunteers involved,”said Elsharkawi. “They must not be forgotten.” IFRC calls on all actors to ensure that migrants, internally displaced people and refugees are actively involved and considered in all response activities. They must have access to information about COVID-19 in a language they can understand as well as prevention measures and access to medical treatment in case of infection. The specific needs of women and children, the elderly and chronically ill, as well as those with disabilities among the displaced must also be addressed. World Refugee Day is marked on 20 June each year to celebrate the courage and resilience of the tens of millions of people forced to flee their homes due to war or persecution.

Read more