| Press release
COVID-19: Southeast Asia battles world’s highest deaths
Kuala Lumpur/Geneva, 18 August 2021:Southeast Asia is battling the world’s highest COVID-19 death toll driven by the Delta variant and unequal global distribution of vaccines.
Hospitals remain overwhelmed by record surges across Southeast Asia, from Vietnam to Malaysia and Myanmar as fears mount of greater suffering and loss of life with COVID-19 spreading from cities to rural and regional areas.
In the last two weeks, Southeast Asia has recorded38,522 deaths from COVID-19, nearly twice as many as North America, according to theJohn Hopkins UniversityCOVID-19 data dashboard.
Alexander Matheou, Asia Pacific Director, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, said:
“This COVID-19 surge driven by the Delta variant is claiming a tragic toll on families across Southeast Asia and it’s far from over. We fear that as the virus spreads from cities to regional and rural areas that many more lives will be lost among the unvaccinated.
“Vaccinations are at record rates in some countries, yet many Southeast Asian nations have low portions of the population fully vaccinated and are languishing far behind Western Europe and North America.”
The United Kingdom has fully vaccinated 60 per cent of its population, while Canada and Spain stand at around 64 per cent, according to Oxford University’sOur World in Data.
By contrast, Malaysia has fully vaccinated 34 per cent of its population against COVID-19, Indonesia and Philippines, close to 11 per cent and Vietnam less than 2 per cent.
Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia and most Southeast Asia countries are all battling record COVID-19 infections or death tolls.
Seven of the top 10 countries where COVID-19 deaths have doubled the fastest are in Asia and the Pacific, with Vietnam, Fiji and Myanmar all in the top five, according toOur World in Data.
“In the short-term, we need much greater efforts by richer countries to urgently share their millions of excess vaccine doses with countries in Southeast Asia. We also need vaccine companies and governments to share technology and scale up production,”Mr Matheou said.
“These coming weeks are critical for scaling up treatment, testing and vaccinations, in every corner of all countries in Southeast Asia. We must aim for mass vaccination rates of 70-80 per cent if we want to win the race against the variants and overcome this global pandemic.”
Until vaccination levels reach a critical mass, in the short-term it is also crucial to reinforce health protection measures, such as wearing a mask, physical distance and meeting outdoors or in well ventilated spaces.
The IFRC is seeking vital funding for its global emergency COVID-19 appeal, with around 60% of the appeal covered so far. The funds are crucial to support the lifesaving actions of the IFRC and member Red Cross and Red Crescent National Societies around the world.
Photos of Red Cross and Red Crescent activities are available for download
| Press release
South East Asia: COVID-19 vaccine divide widens as Delta surges
Kuala Lumpur/Jakarta/Geneva, 13 July 2021:A deadly wave of COVID-19 fuelled by the Delta variant is crashing into South East Asia as the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies warns of a widening global vaccine divide.
Countries across South East Asia from Indonesia to Thailand, Malaysia and Myanmar are facing hospitals full and overwhelmed while many race to roll out vaccines.
Around 10,000 COVID-19 infections are being recorded in Thailand a day, more than four times a month ago, while deaths have also reached record highs. Infections in Viet Nam have surged past 2,000 a day, close to 10 times more than in early June.
Richer countries such as the United Kingdom have fully vaccinated more than half their populations. Viet Nam has fully vaccinated less than 1 per cent, Thailand around 5 per cent and Indonesia 5.5 per cent, according toOxford University’s COVID-19 Our World in Data.
Alexander Matheou Asia Pacific Director, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) said:
“Millions of people in Asia are living on the cruel and sharp edge of a global vaccine divide between richer countries that have a steady supply and most nations in Asia that are struggling to access sufficient doses to keep their populations safe.
“There is mounting evidence that COVID-19 vaccinations are already saving tens of thousands of lives around the world.”
Across Asia, thousands of Red Cross and Red Crescent volunteers are racing to vaccinate people alongside health authorities, yet vaccinations are struggling to keep pace with the variants and the spread of the virus.
“It is encouraging that a number of richer countries have made generous pledges and donations of vaccines to countries in Asia in recent weeks,” said Mr Matheou.
“We need to speed up the delivery of these lifesaving doses so that we can get them in to people’s arms, giving us a genuine shot at containing this pandemic once and for all.”
The IFRC is seeking vital funding for its global emergency COVID-19 appeal, with around 60 per cent of the appeal covered so far. The funds are crucial to support the lifesaving actions of the IFRC and member Red Cross and Red Crescent National Societies around the world.
| Press release
Indonesia: Medical crews help fearful earthquake survivors
Kuala Lumpur/Jakarta/Geneva, 18 January 2021 – More Indonesian Red Cross ambulance and medical crews have arrived to treat people injured following the destructive earthquake that hit West Sulawesi, Indonesia.
Critical relief has been arriving in affected areas, including tarpaulins and other shelter supplies, along with food and safe water as thousands of people remain displaced, fearful of more dangerous quakes.
Since a devastating earthquake struck last Friday (15 January), Red Cross search and rescue teams have been working around the clock alongside government emergency agencies to locate and help trapped survivors escape, with many buried deep in the rubble.
Indonesian Red Cross Secretary General, Sudirman Said, said:
“We have another seven ambulances and first-aid and medical teams treating people who have been injured in this terrible earthquake, boosting the local hospitals and Red Cross crews that were already stretched to the limit responding to the worsening COVID-19 pandemic.
“Our specialist teams and volunteers have been buoyed by the rescues of people stuck in the rubble, but their work is also heartbreaking as they have been recovering bodies non-stop over the past three days.”
More than 19,000 people remain displaced as a result of the earthquake and aftershocks. The Indonesian Red Cross is providing tarpaulins and other sleeping equipment, including kits for families and babes. Red Cross teams on 10 water-tanker trucks are providing safe water to people who have fled their damaged homes.
Head of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) Indonesia Country Office, Jan Gelfand, said:
"Each minute has been critical in the race against time to rescue people trapped deep underneath collapsed buildings. The remarkable work rescuing people and treating hundreds of wounded people is taking place amid dozens of smaller earthquakes and scary aftershocks.
“The physical impact of this earthquake is terrifying, but we must not underestimate the debilitating psychological effect this disaster is having on tens of thousands of people who fled their homes as they are living with the constant threat of another big quake.”
The IFRC has released 460,000 Swiss Francs from its Disaster Relief Emergency Fund to provide emergency assistance to 20,000 people who have been directly impacted by the earthquake. The support provided by the Indonesian Red Cross will include efforts to meet immediate shelter, health care, and water and sanitation needs, as well as actions designed to protect women, children and the most vulnerable, all the while helping survivors to stay safe from COVID-19.
| Press release
Indonesia: Rescue and relief rushed to earthquake survivors
Kuala Lumpur/Jakarta/Geneva, 15 January 2021 – Indonesian Red Cross rescue teams are searching for survivors in the rubble and providing first aid following a devastating earthquake in Sulawesi, Indonesia.Red Cross specialist ambulance crews and first aid teams are treating people injured in the earthquake. Over 630 have been injured, dozens killed and more than 15,000 displaced according to the Indonesian Disaster Mitigation Agency.Indonesian Red Cross Secretary General, Sudirman Said, said:“This is a most tragic earthquake and our specialist teams have been working through the night to help people amid the rubble. Our first priority is to search for survivors and tend to the wounded. “These hours are critical for saving lives. We are working double time to help injured survivors, keep them safe from COVID-19 and provide relief to the thousands who have been displaced from their homes.” The Indonesian Red Cross is rushing more critical medical and relief supplies by plane and land to the earthquake-affected areas. Ambulance crews have been sent along with another 92 volunteers, clean water tankers and production units, tarpaulins for shelter, face masks plus 200 family relief kits to help survivors.Head of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) Indonesia Country Office, Jan Gelfand, said:"It breaks my heart to see the carnage caused by this tragic earthquake, which has flattened a hospital and hundreds of homes. “This earthquake is a brutal blow for the people of Sulawesi in the middle of a deadly COVID-19 pandemic. It is a matter of life and death to help survivors stay safe from this disease.”
| Press release
Two years after tsunami, communities tackle COVID-19 crisis
Palu/Jakarta/Kuala Lumpur, 28 September 2020 – Two years after an earthquake and tsunami struck communities in Central Sulawesi, Indonesia, thousands of survivors face a severe socio-economic crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.The September 28 earthquake triggered a three-meter high tsunami and soil liquefaction that left more than 4,100 people dead and some 110,000 houses damaged or destroyed. Indonesian Red Cross Society volunteers from the affected areas were the first to respond, and staff and volunteers from all over Indonesia have been involved in the two-year relief and recovery effort.This massive operation involving government and multiple agencies has also faced challenges. While many displaced people have alternative accommodation, they are often living with relatives due to widespread destruction of residential areas, the huge scale of people displaced, and most recently COVID-19.Limited employment opportunities in the area due to damage caused to local industry have been compounded by social restrictions across Indonesia. The Regional Development Planning Agency reports that the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has been worse for the local economy than the disaster two years ago.Secretary General of Indonesian Red Cross (PMI), Sudirman Said, explained:“Over the last two years, Indonesian Red Cross has been delivering emergency and recovery programs to people in Sulawesi, adjusting in the past six months to protect people from COVID-19 while expanding scope to support those affected by the disasters and who are facing even more hardships due to the pandemic.”“Throughout the province, hundreds of COVID-19 cases have been reported placing families in jeopardy due to cramped living conditions and crowded homes. We are adapting to these new needs and challenges.”International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) supported Indonesian Red Cross assistance for affected communities has included emergency healthcare for 17,600 people; close to 22 million liters of water has been distributed to over 70,000 people; health promotion activities and psychosocial support have helped to keep 14,000 people safe and well. In the recovery phase, PMI and IFRC are on pace to provide cash assistance to more than 10,000 families (40,000 people) amounting to around CHF 4 million in direct cash transfers.Jan Gelfand, IFRC Head of Country Cluster Support Team for Indonesia and Timor-Leste, said:“After Tsunami Aceh & Nias, this has been the biggest Indonesian Red Cross relief and recovery operations and local teams have achieved a tremendous amount in some of the most challenging circumstances to help communities recover from this triple disaster over the past two years.”About IFRCIFRC 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.www.ifrc.org - Facebook - Twitter - YouTube
| Press release
Asia Survey: 1 in 2 blame foreigners and rule-breakers for COVID-19
Kuala Lumpur/Geneva, 17 September 2020 – A major new survey in four Asian countries reveals nearly one in two people blame specific groups for spreading COVID-19.
The survey shows that people are blaming particular groups for spreading the coronavirus including foreigners, people attending religious ceremonies and people who are not following rules such as wearing masks or maintaining physical distance.
The snapshot of people’s attitudes in Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar and Pakistan also reveals nearly four out of five people distrust social media, despite it being one of the leading sources of information about the virus.
The survey of 4,993 people was initiated by the Asia Pacific Risk Communication and Community Engagement Working Group to find out what people know about the virus and how it spreads, in order to enable stronger community-based response.
Dr Viviane Fluck, Community Engagement and Accountability Coordinator,International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Asia Pacific,said:“It is alarming that our findings show that almost half of people surveyed believe specific groups are at fault for the spread of COVID-19.”
“We are very concerned that vulnerable groups such as migrants and those who cannot afford protective equipment such as masks may be discriminated against due to stigma and fear rising from these views.
“Many countries in Asia are experiencing triple crises of COVID-19, natural hazard related disasters and socio-economic upheavals. It’s critical that we step upengagement with communities to address harmful misinformation that hinders efforts to contain this pandemic,”Dr Fluck said.
Key data fromthe COVID-19 Community Insights from the Asia Pacific Region Report:
Nearly one in two (49%) think a specific group is responsible for the spread of COVID-19
More than two out of three (69%) Malaysians blame others such as people not wearing masks and those attending religious gatherings.
Over half of Indonesians (55%) and close to one third of people in Myanmar (32%) and Pakistan (30%) apportion blame to groups such as foreigners and rule-breakers.
Almost four in five people (79%) in Malaysia think the disease is not dangerous while four out of five people (80%) in Indonesia think it is very dangerous.
Close to nine out of 10 people (87%) across the four countries believe that wearing a mask and handwashing (91%) are ways to protect yourself and family.
Traditional healers remain a source of information is some countries, with nearly one in six (16%) people at least sometimes turning to them for information.
When asked about information channels, most respondents placed a great deal of trust in television (62%), followed by radio (44%) and newspapers (40%). Only 1 in 5 (22%) people placed a great deal of trust in social media.
The full report, titled COVID-19 Community Insights from the Asia Pacific Region, can bedownloaded here.
The Asia Pacific Risk Communication and Community Engagement Working Group is an inter-agency coordination platform that provides technical advice to COVID-19 preparedness and response across the region. The survey was conducted by local National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies in Pakistan, Malaysia and Indonesia as well as Kantar in Myanmar in partnership with United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and with the support of the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), UNICEF, the World Health Organization (WHO), and the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).
The COVID-19 Community Insights from the Asia Pacific Region Report data:
In total, 4,993 respondents participated in Indonesia, Pakistan, Myanmar, and Malaysia. A mixed-method approach for data collection was used, collecting data through phone calls, social media, and some limited face-to-face interactions, where appropriate protective measures were taken.Interviews were conducted from29 May to 20 July 2020 with a two-week collection time frame in each country
Sampling:A random sampling approach was used with the assumptions of a higher number of participants with less margin of error. Convenience sampling was the only possible option due to movement restrictions. These findings cannot be considered to be statistically representative of the perceptions of the population but provide an indication that should be triangulated with further research.
| Press release
Red Cross urges Indonesians to change behavior to slow COVID-19
Jakarta/Kuala Lumpur, 24 July 2020 – Indonesian Red Cross is calling on Indonesians to continue practising physical distancing and to exercise greater caution to prevent COVID-19 infections from spiralling out of control as the country adapts to a `new normal’.
COVID-19 cases continue to climb rapidly in Indonesia, with more than 1000 new cases being diagnosed every day over the past three weeks, with a record high of over 2,600 people infected by coronavirus. The country is the hardest hit in South East Asia, with more than 91,751 cases and at least 4,459 deaths, according to the John Hopkins University COVID-19 database.
In response to this surge in cases, Red Cross is actively sending stronger public messaging through awareness campaigns, to contain the spread of the virus, especially as restrictions start to ease in much of the country. In what has been called the “new normal”, offices, schools, places of worship, malls, markets, and tourist attractions are reopening in some regions as four months of large-scale social restrictions are lifted.
Indonesian Red Cross Secretary General Sudirman Said: “Transmissions will continue to rise unless communities adapt their daily lives by applying strict health protocols during this new normal phase.”
“We are intensifying our efforts to educate the public about the importance of changing their behaviour for good by physical distancing, wearing masks and practising good hygiene. We are mobilizing our thousands of brave volunteers to work directly and safely with communities while reaching out on social media and across radio airwaves and loudspeakers.
“These times are tough, but people are staying strong. The challenge is to effectively reach all our diverse communities living on 6,000 inhabited islands. This calls for a unified, unprecedented, large scale effort to reach all parts of society, in every corner of our country.”
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Indonesian Red Cross is mobilising around 7,000 volunteers to provide important health services to 1.5 million people. Volunteers have also carried out health promotion activities for more than five million people focusing on eight priority provinces which have the highest COVID-19 cases in the country, which is the fourth most populous in the world.
This effort has been backed by the International Federation of Red Cross (IFRC), which launched a global appeal to provide support to the world’s most at risk countries, including Indonesia.
Jan Gelfand,Head ofIndonesia Country Office,InternationalFederation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Society said: “This global pandemic presents an unprecedented challenge, requiring global cooperation but a local response. As cases rise in Indonesia, Red Cross is doubling its efforts, using all available resources to slow the spread of this virus. Red Cross recognises that individuals and communities have a critical role to play, by changing their behaviour, they can help to control COVID in this new normal.”
Indonesia: Red Cross continues to support as further rains are forecast
Volunteers and staff from Palang Merah Indonesia are continuing to support flood-affected communities as the country braces for further heavy rains and storms forecast in the coming days and weeks.Flash floods, flooding and landslides have killed 67 people and injured a further 110 since the crisis began on 28 December. Since then, more than 100,700 people have been displaced from their homes and communities in 255 sites across North Sumatra, West Java, Bengkulu and Jakarta. At the height of the crisis, some 300,000 people were displaced in the greater Jakarta metropolitan area alone.Palang Merah Indonesia has deployed 455 volunteers and staff, 15 ambulances, 13 water tankers, 12 rubber boats and nine trucks in support of the affected communities, and has provided more than 90,000 food packages in the Central Jakarta and West Java areas.The teams are responding on several fronts: helping people to evacuate and supporting them in centres; helping people to return home when it is safe to do so; providing first aid, health services and emotional support; and distributing clean water and running public kitchens. Volunteers and staff are also helping people clean the mud and debris left behind and spraying disinfectant to reduce the risk of diseases such as dengue and leptospirosis.The heavy rains that caused the disaster were the most intense since records began in 1966, with Indonesia’s Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency measuring 377 mm of rainfall on New Year’s Eve at an airport in East Jakarta. Rainfall above 150mm per day is considered extreme.The flooding and landslides have caused extensive damage to buildings and infrastructure, including hundreds of homes and 20 bridges. A state of emergency is still in place in several flood-affected areas.
Indonesia: record rainfall leads to New Year flood disaster
Indonesia has been hit by widespread flooding after days of its most intense rainfall since records began, prompting the evacuation of more than 31,200 people from Jakarta aloneFlash flooding and landslides have reportedly killed 16 people, injured 100 others, and damaged or destroyed hundreds of homes and buildings across several provinces, including North Sumatra, West Java, Bengkulu and Jakarta.The Indonesian Red Cross – Palang Merah Indonesia, or PMI – has deployed 456 volunteers to support the affected people and meet the rising humanitarian needs.On 31 December, Indonesia’s Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency measured 377 mm of rainfall at an airport in East Jakarta – the highest since records began in 1966. Rainfall above 150mm per day is considered extreme by the agency.In coordination with the authorities, Red Cross staff and volunteers have been helping with evacuation, search and rescue, assessment, setting up field kitchens and delivering emergency supplies. Aid delivered by 2 January has included seven rubber boats, 400 hygiene kits, 200 tarpaulins, and 500 sarongs. Staff and volunteers are using two-way communication (for example using the hashtag #TanyaPMI or Ask PMI) to spread life-saving messages on evacuation and avoiding hypothermia.
| Press release
Indonesia: Demand for health services skyrockets across shattered Sulawesi
Palu/Geneva, 10 October 2018 – Demand for Red Cross health services in the shattered communities of Palu, Donggala and Sigi is skyrocketing as mobile health clinics reach remote areas that were affected by the 28 September earthquakes and tsunami.More than 2,620 survivors have now been treated for injuries and sickness in the aftermath of the double disaster, with five Indonesian Red Cross mobile health clinics bringing health services to previously inaccessible communities.Iris van Deinse, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) communications delegate in Palu, is with an Indonesian Red Cross mobile health clinic bringing treatment and support to remote communities in the disaster zone.She said: “We are reaching more and more people every day and are expanding the mobile clinic services to meet the growing demand. More than 2,620 people have received treatment so far, not counting the many survivors who received first aid in the immediate aftermath of the earthquakes and tsunami. “While we’re focusing on critical care and helping people who were injured in the double disaster, we know that not all wounds are visible. The survivors will also need psychosocial support if they are to recover from the horrors they have endured, and we will be introducing these services in the coming days.”As well as expanding its health services in the affected area, the Indonesian Red Cross operation is also distributing clean water, food, hygiene kits, mosquito nets, and shelter materials to people who have lost their homes.The disaster zone is still being affected by aftershocks, with a 5.2 magnitude event sending survivors screaming into the streets of Palu on Tuesday. Tens of thousands of people are still sleeping outside, as their homes are too badly damaged to live in.Government agencies report that at least 2,100 people have been killed and more than 10,600 have been injured. The double disaster has also damaged or destroyed around 67,310 homes. IFRC is appealing for 22 million Swiss francs to support 160,000 people affected by the earthquake and tsunami in Sulawesi, and the series of earthquakes on the island of Lombok.
| Press release
Indonesia: Red Cross aid reaches shattered communities in Palu and Donggala
Palu/Geneva, 5 October 2018 – One week after earthquakes and a powerful tsunami devastated the island of Sulawesi, more and more relief is arriving in shattered communities after Red Cross teams reached previously inaccessible areas of Palu, Donggala and Sigi.The main focus of the Indonesian Red Cross operation is now on the distribution of clean water and food, providing medical support, and evacuating survivors from the disaster zone.Iris van Deinse, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) communications delegate in Palu, is with the teams bringing food, clean water and medical support to the worst affected areas.She said: “More and more aid is arriving every day – a plane has just arrived with generators and tarpaulins from the government of New Zealand – and 70 tons of Red Cross relief goods are on their way to Palu.“Many roads are still impassible, and access is still a major challenge, but we are bringing goods in by boat and volunteers are carrying aid to isolated communities on foot.“The shock and trauma here is palpable, and the area is still affected by aftershocks a week after the disaster. Red Cross teams are doing everything they can to comfort survivors and evacuate them to safer areas of the island.”Red Cross volunteers have reached the settlement of Banawa, in Donggala, where every home along the shoreline was wiped out by the tsunami. The team has described Banawa as the worst affected area they have so far seen. The survivors have been evacuated – or have travelled independently - to neighbouring houses in the hills, where they are in need of health care, tents, blankets, baby food, and diapers.Around 50 Indonesian Red Cross volunteers are expected to escort survivors from the Petobo and Balaroa settlements to safety today. Hundreds of blankets, clean water, tarpaulins, mats and 1,400kg of rice will be distributed to survivors in Sigi and Donggala. Three water trucks are being used and a further seven trucks are on their way to the area.One Red Cross search and rescue team is still active and responding to requests from the affected communities. Heavy machinery has arrived to help excavate buried settlements, and Indonesian Red Cross volunteers will also be helping to manage any dead bodies that are found.Government agencies report that at least 1,581 people have been killed, more than 2,500 have been injured, and 113 people are still missing. IFRC is appealing for 22 million Swiss francs to support 160,000 people affected by the earthquake and tsunami in Sulawesi, and the series of earthquakes on the island of Lombok.