National Society Investment Alliance funding announcement 2023
The National Society Investment Alliance (NSIA) is a pooled funding mechanism, run jointly by the IFRC and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).
The NSIA provides flexible, multi-year funding to support the long-term development of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies so they can increase the reach and impact of their humanitarian services. It focuses on supporting National Societies operating in complex emergencies, protracted crises and fragile contexts.
The NSIA can award up to one million Swiss francs of Accelerator funding to National Societies in fragile contexts over a maximum of five years. In addition, Bridge grants of up to 50,000 Swiss francs over 12 months can help National Societies lay the ground for future investment from the NSIA or from other National Societies Development (NSD) support initiatives.
In 2023, the NSIA Office received 27 eligible proposals: 14 for Accelerator funding and 13 for Bridge grants. Having reviewed all applications and following up the decision of the Steering Committee, the NSIA Office is pleased to announce that the following four National Societies have been selected for Accelerator funding in 2023:
Ecuadorian Red Cross
Myanmar Red Cross Society
Red Cross Society of Niger
The Palestine Red Crescent Society
These National Societies will receive a significant investment to help accelerate their journey towards long-term sustainability.
Three of these National Societies (Myanmar, Niger and Palestine) previously received NSIA Bridge grants, proving once again the relevance of the fund’s phased approach.
The Myanmar Red Cross Society will proceed with the decentralization of its commercial first aid program after designing a strategy and a business model with the bridge grant.
The Red Cross Society of Niger plans to develop the resource mobilization capacities of its branches after a pilot phase and to boost their volunteer base.
The Palestine Red Crescent Society, having developed an investment strategy with a previous bridge grant, will improve access to healthcare services by implementing a health management information system.
The Ecuadorian Red Cross plans to develop a new internal system to better manage important parts of their work - including HR, volunteer, financial management and logistics. The NSIA will fund the first phase of implementation of this system.
15 other National Societies will receive Bridge grants (up to 50,000 Swiss francs): Bolivia, Burkina Faso, Central Africa, Côte d’Ivoire, El Salvador, Honduras, Liberia, Philippines, Rwanda, Somalia, South Africa, Tajikistan, Tanzania, Togo and Zimbabwe.
Most Bridge initiatives will focus on developing business plans and strategies for resource mobilization (57 per cent) followed by branch development (21%). The National Societies’ projects will also focus on other themes such as volunteer development, youth engagement, digital transformation and governance are also identified.
In total, the NSIA will allocate 3.2 million Swiss francs to the 19 different National Societies this year.
The NSIA Office also takes this opportunity to thank the generous support from the governments of Switzerland, the United States, and Norway, and from the Norwegian and Netherlands’ Red Cross Societies, as well as the ICRC and IFRC, for their continuous commitment and contribution to the fund.
The NSIA remains a strategic instrument for National Societies in fragile settings. The Nigerian Red Cross Society (NRCS) has been implementing a NSIA accelerator initiative since 2021. Mr. Abubakar Kende, NRCS Secretary General explains:
“The NSIA has played a pivotal role in the success and expansion of the Nigerian Red Cross Society's commercial first aid training program. The financial and technical support and resources provided have significantly improved the overall impact, reach and quality of our Workplace First Aid training by developing advanced training products to bring us up-to-date with international best practices.
The NSIA Accelerator Grant has been an invaluable asset for the development of the Nigerian Red Cross Society through strategic investments, expert guidance, and the introduction of additional revenue-generating streams that contribute to its long-term financial sustainability. This enables the National Society to fulfil its humanitarian mission and positively impact the lives of vulnerable communities across Nigeria.
We are immensely grateful for the partnership so far with NSIA and look forward to continuing our shared mission of building a more prepared and resilient Nigeria. This cooperation and support has enabled NRCS to establish a solid foundation for growth and financial sustainability at both National Headquarters and the Branches, which we intend to scale up over the next coming years.”
For more information, pleasevisit the NSIA webpage.
| Press release
Myanmar Red Cross prepares ahead landfall of Cyclone Mocha
With the support of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), the Myanmar Red Cross Society is preparing for a major emergency response as Cyclone Mocha heads across the Bay of Bengal, threatening to pound communities along the Bangladesh-Myanmar coasts.
Based on current predictions, Cyclone Mocha is expected to bring heavy rainfall, strong winds of over 150 km per hour, and storm surges of over two metres when it makes landfall within the next 24 hours. It is expected to affect northern parts of the country, including Rakhine and Chin states, as well as Magway and Sagaing regions further inland and the Ayeyarwaddy Delta Region further south. The identified impact area in Rakhine is low-lying and highly prone to flooding, with hundreds of thousands of people living in precarious conditions. Heavy rains and strong winds are later expected to hit inland communities in the Northwest, also exposed to flooding and landslides. Across Rakhine and the Northwest combined, about six million people are in need of humanitarian assistance due to the ongoing humanitarian situation in Myanmar, and 1.2 million people are displaced. Cyclone Mocha is expected to further impact the vulnerable populations in those areas and trigger further displacement.
IFRC is supporting Myanmar Red Cross Society (MRCS) to scale up disaster and risk management measures to support affected communities along cyclone Mocha’s path, working closely with sister National Societies and the International Committee of Red Cross (ICRC) regarding areas of conflict. IFRC and partners are on standby to provide strategic, operational, financial, technical and other support, including for early action to aid needs assessment and support vulnerable families with their immediate and medium-term needs.
"Disaster preparedness begins long before any emergency. Myanmar Red Cross, through its network of local township branches and its trained and dedicated volunteers, has mobilized resources, stocks and staff and volunteers, ready to respond. There will be important needs in terms of emergency housing, access to safe drinking water and hygiene, and attending to the displaced, while ensuring a protection and community engagement and accountability lens in the response. Access to trusted information, helping to reunite families that have been separated and referrals for specialized services will be key. IFRC and its partners continue to support the Myanmar Red Cross actively, in coordination with the wider humanitarian community. We can expect a significant humanitarian response, and contributions to support the efforts of the Myanmar Red Cross will be much appreciated.”, Nadia Khoury, IFRC Head of Delegation in Myanmar, highlights.
The MRCS has activated its Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) at the central level and in Rakhine State and Ayeryawaddy Region. Over 700 Red Cross volunteers from Rakhine, Ayeyarwaddy, and regions expected to be affected have been trained to provide immediate assistance to the community. An average of 20 Red Cross volunteers from each branch of coastal townships are ready to respond. They have been mobilized nationwide to share early warning messages, help communities prepare, and support evacuations where needed.
To request an interview or for more information, please contact:
In Yangon: Swe Zin Myo Win, Senior Communications Officer, sw[email protected]
In Kuala Lumpur: Afrhill Rances, Regional Communications Manager, +60 19 271 3641, [email protected]
| Press release
Urgent support needed to prevent worsening impacts of Cyclone Mocha on health and livelihoods
Kuala Lumpur/Geneva, 1 June 2023 - Following the widespread devastation of Cyclone Mocha in Myanmar, it is now a race against time to aid people in need and prevent the spread of disease.
Over 235,000 households are estimated to have been affected by winds of up to 250km/h, storm surges, flash floods and landslides brought by the cyclone, which was the strongest in the Bay of Bengal in the last decade.
In Rakhine and Chin States, and Magway, Sagaing, and Ayeyarwaddy regions in the southwest of Myanmar, homes, livelihoods, and public and private infrastructure have been destroyed. In the northwest, access challenges, ongoing clashes and fighting, and communications restrictions are limiting the ability of humanitarian organisations to obtain a full picture of the damage and respond accordingly.
Myanmar Red Cross has access to communities through its branches and volunteers present in hundreds of townships, including Rakhine, Magway, Chin and Ayeryawaddy. Over 960 volunteers are currently on the ground in affected areas, identifying needs, and providing emergency relief, healthcare, and safe drinking water.
As of 29 May 2023, the Myanmar Red Cross had reached over 75,000 people with a multi-sectoral humanitarian response. Dozens of thousands have received access to safe drinking water, more than 900 people received healthcare through mobile clinics, more than 1,300 people received health education, more than 1,000 were provided with dignity kits, 700 families were provided with tarpaulins to help shelter from wind and rain, and more than 400 families were provided with kitchen sets.
Director of the Myanmar Red Cross Rakhine Operations Management Unit, Aye Aye Nyein said: “Together with our volunteers and staff from Rakhine State Red Cross Branch, we have provided assistance such as early warning and relocation of the most vulnerable communities and we are providing relief aid, safe water and medical assistance with our mobile clinics team in Sittwe and neighboring areas."
“In Rakhine State, we will initially be focusing on the most affected five townships of Sittwe, Rathedaung, Ponnarkyun, Kyauktaw and Pauktaw and plan to extend our assistance further under the guidance and principles of our leadership and in coordination with Red Cross Red Crescent Movement and other partners.”
Shelter, basic needs, and livelihoods are now a priority. Access to clean water, food, first aid, primary healthcare and cash assistance for the affected communities is urgently needed.
IFRC Disaster Risk Management Delegate, Rajeev K.C. said:
“Affecting populations with significant pre-existing vulnerabilities, Cyclone Mocha has put more people at risk and in immediate need of shelter, water, and sanitation services. We already see the possibilities of disease transmission emerging, so immediate hygiene and health services assistance is required.”
Myanmar Red Cross has established communications channels with relevant stakeholders on the ground and is seeking access to affected people in need. It is engaged with the authorities in order to fulfill its mandate while maintaining neutrality, impartiality, and independence from the government. The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) has launched an emergency appeal along with its members, to support the response of the Myanmar Red Cross, focusing on relief provisions and early recovery assistance in Myanmar's hardest-hit areas to the 7,500 most vulnerable households (37,500 people) for the next 12 months, particularly in the most affected areas of Rakhine, Chin, Magway, Ayeryawaddy, and Sagaing.
For more information or to request an interview, please contact: [email protected]
In Yangon: Swe Zin Myo Win, [email protected]
In Kuala Lumpur: Afrhill Rances, [email protected]; +60 19 271 3641
Anna Tuson, +41 79 895 6924
Tommaso Della Longa, +41 79 708 4367
Myanmar: Cyclone Mocha
Cyclone Mocha made landfall in Myanmar on 14 May as a category 4 tropical cyclone, bringing winds of up to 250 km/h, heavy rains, storm surges, flash floods, and landslides. It is the strongest cyclone in the Bay of Bengal in the last 10 years, and causedsignificant damage to people's homes, infrastructure, and power and water services. Through this Emergency Appeal, the IFRC is supporting the Myanmar Red Cross Society to expand its provision of immediate relief, essential livelihood support and early recovery activities.
| Press release
Cyclone Mocha: Access and time of the essence to help affected families in Bangladesh and Myanmar
Kuala Lumpur/Geneva, 16 May 2023 - The strongest cyclone in the Bay of Bengal in the last 10 years has affected families already internally displaced in Myanmar and living in refugee camps in Bangladesh.
Cyclone Mocha crossed the coast between Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh and Kyaukpyu township, near Rakhine’s capital of Sittwe, Myanmar on 14 May with winds estimated as strong as 250 kph, bringing heavy rains, storm surge, flash floods and landslides. In Myanmar, the cyclone has caused significant damages: houses destroyed, electricity lines down, and power and water services disrupted. Resulting storm surges have also knocked out bridges and inundated homes.
To date, based on early reports,around 355 households in Yangon, Magway and Ayeyarwaddy Region are reported affected,while initial reports from Chin State also highlight damages,and more than 130,000 people were evacuated to temporary shelters.Widespread devastation has been reported in Rakhine State, impacting public and private infrastructure, destroying homes and livelihoods.
While reports from the field continue to come in, and rapid assessments are carried out, needs are expected to be high and affected people will require immediate relief items, shelter, water, sanitation and hygiene needs, emergency healthcare and psychosocial support. Families who have been separated will need to be reconnected.The potential for communicable disease outbreaks is high, while landmines and other explosive remnants of war pose further risks as flooding and landslides can carry the devices to locations previously deemed safe.
More than 800 Red Cross volunteers and staff have respondedaround the country and emergency response teams have also been deployed. Pre-positioned relief stock items are beingsent to the Myanmar Red Cross hub inRakhine to cover 2,000 households. IFRCand its members aresupporting the Myanmar Red Cross Society in scaling up disasterresponsemeasures to support affected communities along Cyclone Mocha’s path, as well as those affected by storm surges all along the country's extensive coastline.
Nadia Khoury, IFRC Head of Delegation in Myanmar said:
“The potential scale of the devastation is overwhelming, covering a huge area of the country. Hundreds of thousands of people will have been left in a highly vulnerable situation, just as the monsoon season is due to start.We are working withthe Myanmar Red Cross,our partners in-country and the International Committee of Red Cross regarding areas that need access and resource mobilisation for a coordinated response, providing strategic, operational, financial, technical, and other support. With its presence in every affected township through its branches and volunteers, the Myanmar Red Cross will be providing multi-sectoral assistance to seek to best meet the needs of affected populations."
Access in Rakhine and the Northwest remains heavily restricted, while the level of damage inruraland other hard-to-reach areas, especially camps for internally displaced people, is still unknown due to the interruption of phone and internet lines.
In Bangladesh, while the cyclone caused massive destruction on Saint Martin Island and the adjacent coastal area of Cox’s Bazar, it was less impactful than anticipated. While assessments are ongoing, it has been reported so far that nearly 3,000 households are affected and 10,000 households partially damaged.
More than 8,000 Red Crescent volunteers were deployed to support the affected community in Bangladesh before Cyclone Mocha made landfall and 76,000 Cyclone Preparedness Programme volunteers were prepared in coastal areas for any complex situation. Volunteers are currently on the ground in affected areas, rescuing people, providing emergency relief items, medical support, safe drinking water and other support.
Sanjeev Kafley, IFRC Head of Delegation in Bangladesh, said:
“The IFRC and its wide network have been supporting Bangladesh Red Crescent in its rescue and relief activities, working closely with the national society to ensure that the people affected by Cyclone Mocha receive the necessary assistance. Our teams are on the ground in affected Cox’s Bazar camps and other coastal areas and assessing the evolving situation.”
The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) has launched an emergency appeal focusing on relief provisions and early recovery assistance in Myanmar's hardest-hit areas of 7,500 most vulnerable households (37,500 people) particularly in Rakhine, Chin, Magway, Ayeryawaddy, and Sagaing.
For more information or to request an interview, please contact:
In Kuala Lumpur:
Afrhill Rances, +60192713641
Anna Tuson, +41 79 895 6924
Tommaso Della Longa, +41 79 708 4367
Myanmar: IFRC Regional Director reiterates need for principled humanitarian assistance
The IFRC Regional Director for Asia Pacific, Alexander Matheou, visited Myanmar from 23 to 29 April 2023.
The purpose of the visit was to meet the new leadership of the Myanmar Red Cross Society (MRCS) and to discuss with them the importance of applying the Red Cross’ Fundamental Principles of neutrality, impartiality and independence to provide principled humanitarian assistance in a complex emergency.
To this end, Mr. Matheou also met State Administration Council ministries, including the Minister of Health, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Minister of International Cooperation. The Regional Director highlighted the special auxiliary role of MRCS in the provision of humanitarian services in Myanmar, and the importance of respecting its independence and neutrality as it delivers assistance in response to natural disasters, in health crises, and in situations of conflict.
Noting the role of the IFRC to support and strengthen the actions and institutional capacity of the MRCS, the Regional Director also called for facilitation of humanitarian assistance, especially in areas that are hardest to reach. He confirmed IFRC’s commitment to supporting the MRCS to respond to humanitarian needs, aligned with the Red Cross’ Fundamental Principles.
Mr. Matheou said: “Over 17 million people need humanitarian assistance in Myanmar. It is one of the largest and most complex humanitarian crises in the world. No single organization can reach everyone in need or reach all parts of the country affected by the crisis. Like other organizations, we have our limitations. However, Myanmar Red Cross is the country’s largest humanitarian organization, and it has a key role to play in communities across the country, through its local branches and its trained volunteers."
"Our job as IFRC is to assist Myanmar Red Cross to fulfil that role in a principled way, to the benefit of as many people as possible in Myanmar, in response to both natural and manmade disasters, and strengthen its role as a local community actor.”
With a nationwide network, Myanmar Red Cross Society (MRCS) is the country’s largest humanitarian organization delivering humanitarian assistance across the country. The MRCS, supported by the IFRC network, provides services in disaster management and risk reduction, health and care, mental health and psychosocial support, water and sanitation, restoring family links, and first aid and safety services, amongst others.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the MRCS assisted millions of people through risk awareness messaging, vaccination support, quarantine support and distribution of protective items, as well as providing oxygen to dozens of thousands of people in need, along with cash assistance to support socio-economic recovery of affected households. In the past two years since the military intervention, the MRCS has assisted hundreds of thousands of people across the country, in hard to access areas such as Chin, Magway, Sagaing, Kayah and Kayin, as well as Shan State and Yangon, through food assistance, cash distributions, medical assistance and non-food items such as hygiene kits, dignity kits, water filters, amongst others. The MRCS works as an auxiliary to public authorities in the humanitarian field, like all 192 National Societies of the Red Cross or Red Crescent around the world.
In Kuala Lumpur: Afrhill Rances, Regional Communications Manager, [email protected], +60 19 271 3641
"Lucky boy": Mother reunites with Myanmar Red Cross health worker who saved her baby's life
The two women in the back of the ambulance held each other’s hands tightly as the vehicle rushed through the night on the rough road to Than Phyu Zayat, Myanmar.
Late in the afternoon, the Myanmar Red Cross ambulance crew had collected a young pregnant woman from her home in Kyaik Kha Me Township, taking her to the local hospital as her contractions intensified. But with no doctor available they were directed to the regional hospital some 70 kilometers away.
With the baby in a breech position, it was going to be a difficult delivery for the 27-year-old first time mother, Moe Thuzar.
Public services had been drastically disrupted following the military intervention of February 2021. The combination of the political crisis and COVID-19 had put healthcare services – including maternal and new-born health – under severe strain.
Recently divorced and living with her widowed mother, Moe worked late into the pregnancy doing “Kya” jobs (random tasks at people’s houses) to make ends meet, and was often forced to skip meals as food prices increased sharply.
That afternoon when her contractions began, a Myanmar Red Cross volunteer in the neighbourhood took her to the local hospital. When they found there was no doctor there, a call for help was sent to take Moe to the next town.
As night was falling, Myanmar Red Cross ambulance volunteer Thi Thi Mon received the emergency call to transport the young expectant mother.
As a Red Cross veteran of 25 years, Thi Thi Mon quickly jumped into an ambulance to collect Moe from the local hospital.
The team rushed to the regional hospital but the doctor there didn’t have the facilities to deliver the baby, which was now blocking the birth canal.
He urged the ambulance to drive to Than Phyu Zayat township, Mon State. But, halfway between hospitals, Moe Thu Zar said that she could not cope anymore and begged Thi Thi Mon to help. The former midwife made the choice to deliver the baby there and then.
The baby was born in the back of the ambulance, his umbilical cord wrapped dangerously around his neck, but breathing.
“The baby did not make any sound at first, so I had to shake him a little before he cried out loud,” Thi Thi Mon recalls.
The team resumed their journey at top speed reaching the hospital in Than Phyu Zayat township in ten minutes. They provided oxygen to the baby and transferred the mother and child to a state hospital for intensive care.
“She named my boy as “Maung Kan Kaung” (Burmese translation: Lucky boy). I am grateful towards the Red Cross members who helped us. We are alive only because of them,” says Moe Thuzar.
“Since I was a child, I loved one of the Red Cross’ seven fundamental principles: humanity”
“I will never forget this memorable night. I believe if everyone gets First Aid training like I did, there will be fewer helpless people, ” says Thi Thi Mon.
From February 2021 to December 2022, Myanmar Red Cross First Aid teams have helped with the referral of around 12,833 patients. The ambulance service has helped more than 300 pregnant women and newborn babies to access emergency treatment. In areas where local communities lack access to medical facilities, the Red Cross has established First Aid Posts and community clinics where volunteer doctors and medical staff provide basic healthcare.
These volunteers keep the spirit of humanity alive.
To read a longer version of this story, click here.
| Press release
Nearly 1 million still await life at the world largest displacement camp
Kuala Lumpur/ Dhaka, 22 Aug 2022: This 25 August marks five long years of the massive displacement of people from Rakhine state of Myanmar, who crossed the border into Bangladesh. The protracted crisis now stands at colossal number of displaced people in the camp – 936,733 people – who are completely reliant on humanitarian assistance to meet their everyday needs in the world’s largest camp in Cox’s Bazar.
At the beginning of this humanitarian crisis, the Government of Bangladesh called on Bangladesh Red Crescent Society to respond to the emergency in line with Red Crescent’s mandate to provide humanitarian services as auxiliary to the public authorities. In response, an international operation was launched in Cox's Bazar with the support of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and its RCRC partners, called Population Movement Operation.
The Secretary General of Bangladesh Red Crescent, Kazi Shofiqul Azam said:
“The crisis had already tipped into a complex protracted displacement crisis a while ago. Top priorities must go to long-term solutions, balancing the initiatives in the camps and to the neighbouring host community.
“We are calling for long-term commitment and resources that are very much needed to address this crisis.
Children make up almost a 51 per cent of the camp population, while women and girls represent almost 52 per cent of the population. One in three displaced families has at least one easily identifiable protection vulnerability, such as human trafficking, underage marriage, sexual exploitation and abuse.
Many sustainable initiatives that were implemented at the camp have been lifesaving for the people there such as mid-term shelters or durable housing, solar-powered water supply networks, and disaster mitigation activities.
However, the people there remains completely dependent on humanitarian assistance to meet daily and longer-term needs.
Asia Pacific Regional Director of IFRC Mr. Alexander Matheou said:
“What you see on the surface in the camps has improved over five years thanks to the work of the government of Bangladesh and multiple national and international partners.
“But below the surface, in people's lives, where the future is uncertain and there is no work or movement, there are less obvious but important risks - of depression, trafficking, violence, including gender-based violence. With no durable solutions in sight, the humanitarian response needs to focus on recreation and protection as much as lifesaving needs.
The situation is further compounded by the fact that Cox’s Bazar sits right on the path of cyclones, and hence is constantly subject to seasonal flash floods, devastating cyclones and heavy rainfall that cause landslides, severe water logging, shelter damages; frequent fire incidents; potential outbreaks of cholera, dengue and diphtheria. Also due to the sheer number of people there, epidemics such as cholera and COVID are a huge day-to-day threat.
The IFRC Head of Delegation in Bangladesh, Sanjeev Kafley said:
“This is one of IFRC’s largest, most complex humanitarian support in Bangladesh. For the last five years, the IFRC and many partner National Societies have been supporting Bangladesh Red Crescent in ensuring the protection and extended humanitarian support for the camp.
“Considering COVID-19 experience, the IFRC is focusing on institutional preparedness. The IFRC’s strategy of supporting the displaced and host communities in Cox’s Bazar includes integrated community resilience, social inclusion and readiness for effective response till 2024; for now.
Bangladesh Red Crescent, with the support of IFRC and Participating National Societies (PNS), will maintain and look to scale up its efforts to meet the urgent humanitarian needs and keep the hundreds of thousands of families safe through a range of life saving humanitarian assistance including shelter, health, PSS, wash, livelihood, DRM as well as emergencies and disaster response. The protection, gender and inclusion and community engagement and accountability are mainstreamed in our operation ensuring people at the center of our action.
For more information or to arrange an interview, contact:
Barkat Ullah Maruf, +880 1711 222922,
Sabrina Idris, +880 1710-840327,
Mahmudul Hasan, +880 1716-103333,
Rachel Punitha, +60 19 791 3830,
| 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
Myanmar: Red Cross ramps up response as humanitarian crisis deepens
Kuala Lumpur/Yangon/Geneva,8 June 2021 – The Myanmar Red Cross supported by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is scaling up emergency support as hundreds of thousands of people in Myanmar need immediate assistance and access to health services.
The Red Cross is urgently ramping up efforts to meet the rising humanitarian needs of 236,000 people across Myanmar.
Prof. Dr. Htin Zaw Soe, Secretary General of the Myanmar Red Cross Society said:
“Covid-19 has caused immense economic hardship across Myanmar in the past year. The current crisis has led to further social and economic upheaval. Many people are struggling to earn an income and have very limited access to basic services such as healthcare.
“We are preparing to provide assistance to people who face worsening poverty, including immediate food relief, and cash assistance that enable people to buy produce locally, in turn stimulating local economies.”
Factory and retail closures signal an emerging economic crisis with thousands left jobless. With no income, people living in informal settlements in urban areas are particularly vulnerable
With a nationwide network, Myanmar Red Cross Society is the country’s largest humanitarian organisation delivering humanitarian assistance across the country.
Since February 1, over 2,000 trained Myanmar Red Cross first aid volunteers have played a critical role on the frontlines of the current crisis, providing lifesaving first aid, healthcare and ambulance services,in line with their fundamental humanitarian principles of independence, neutrality and impartiality,to individuals injured and/or ill including pregnant women for safe delivery of babies. Until now, more than 3,000 people have already received these services.
In the coming months, the Myanmar Red Cross will scale up its first aid and basic healthcare services and will also address rising food insecurity and poverty among families, including longer term support to re-establish people’s fractured livelihoods.
Joy Singhal, IFRC’s Head of Delegation in Myanmar said:
“With a steady increase in humanitarian needs we are preparing for what could become a protracted crisis. This means scaling up both immediate and longer-term support while also factoring in the limited COVID-19 prevention efforts in the country.”
“As the deadliest COVID-19 surges worsen across Asia, every effort needs to be made to contain the virus as the monsoon season looms large, with cyclones and floods adding another layer of hardship for hundreds of thousands of people in the coastal regions.”
Four of the five most vulnerable regions in the upcoming monsoon season - Ayeyarwady, Bago, Tanintharyi and Mon – have also been impacted by the current civil unrest. Between 2000 and 2019, Myanmar was one of the top three countries, most affected by the impacts of extreme weather events.
In preparation for the monsoon season, the Red Cross is pre-positioning stocks of key relief items including shelter equipment for people displaced due to disasters and emergency response equipment such as water purification units.
Note to Editors:
The IFRC’s emergency appeal in response to the civil unrest in Myanmar can be downloaded here
| Press release
Myanmar: IFRC calls for greater protection of health workers and warns of a deepening humanitarian crisis
Kuala Lumpur/Yangon/Geneva,1 April 2021 - Two months following the military takeover in Myanmar, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is deeply concerned about the escalating violence and mounting casualties amongst the civilian population and is warning of a deepening humanitarian crisis.
Alexander Matheou, IFRC’s Asia Pacific Regional Director, said:
“The levels of violence and the use of lethal force that have resulted in so many casualties and grave injuries amongst the population is deeply shocking. Myanmar Red Cross first aid teams working on the frontlines of this emergency have provided care to over 2,000 people, often at great personal risk.”
“In some instances, Myanmar Red Cross first aiders and medics have been wrongfully arrested, intimidated or injured and Red Cross property and ambulances have been damaged. This is unacceptable. Health workers should never be a target. They should be granted unrestricted humanitarian access to people in need.”
With major disruptions to emergency medical services, Myanmar Red Cross is one of a few organization’s currently able to help across the country, thanks to their nationwide network and levels of acceptance with local communities. Close to 2,000 Red Cross volunteers are working at 246 first aid posts set up in 175 townships across the country. The Red Cross also operates a fleet of 142 ambulances which have been used to treat and evacuate the seriously ill or wounded.
On its part, the IFRC released funding from its Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF) to help the Myanmar Red Cross sustain nationwide reach of its emergency first aid and medical transport services to aid an estimated 22,500 people until June, 2021. Longer term plans are rapidly being developed in line with escalating humanitarian needs in the months ahead.
The current state of unrest poses a significant threat to efforts to contain the COVID-19 pandemic in Myanmar where testing, tracing and treatment capacity has been markedly reduced in the past two months.
“In the coming months we could be facing a perfect storm in Myanmar where another wave of COVID-19 infections collides with a deepening humanitarian crisis spreading across the entire country.”
“As basic services such as health care, banking, transportation and logistics suffer major disruption, we inevitably see rising prices, food insecurity, increased population movements and a range of acute medical needs emerging,” said Mr Matheou.
The IFRC is also worried that the current political crisis could destabilise ongoing humanitarian programmes in Myanmar.
“With significant disruptions to banking services we could soon be struggling to support Myanmar Red Cross programmes in several parts of the country. This includes planned cash assistance to help families recover from COVID-19. Vulnerable people already suffering terrible hardships face greater risks”, said Mr Matheou.
Notes to Editors:
According to the World Health Organization, between 1February and 24March, 2021, there were 31 attacks on health-care facilities and staff, resulting in two deaths and six injuries. Dozens of facilities and several ambulances have been affected in 12 states and regions.
Myanmar Red Cross Society
| 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
Bay of Bengal: Red Cross Red Crescent on the ground bracing for super cyclone Amphan
Kuala Lumpur/Geneva 20 May 2020 – The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is preparing for a major humanitarian response as super cyclone Amphan heads across the Bay of Bengal towards Bangladesh, India and Myanmar.
Heavy rainfall, high winds and storm surges threaten Bangladesh’s and India’s coastlines. In Bangladesh, 14.2 million people live in the cyclone’s path, two thirds of whom are women and children. India’s Odisha State is making plans to evacuate 1.1 million people along its coastlines. While Myanmar is not in the cyclone’s direct path, heavy rain, strong winds and storm surges are also expected to affect northern parts of the country, including Rakhine state.
Early action and effective preparedness can save lives and livelihoods and IFRC is releasing funding to support Bangladesh Red Crescent, India Red Cross and Myanmar Red Cross to scale up preparedness measures to support affected communities in the direct path of cyclone Amphan.
IFRC is releasing almost760,000 Swiss francsfor early action to aid needs assessment and support vulnerable families with evacuation, emergency dry food and drinking water, first aid, safety equipment and material assistance.
This includesmore than 134,000 Swiss francs (139,000 US dollars) fromIFRC's Forecast-based Action by the Disaster Relief Emergency Fundwhich will support20,000 vulnerable people in Bangladesh with emergency dry food and drinking water, first aid, safety equipment, and transportation facilities to cyclone shelters, as well as support precautionary measures against COVID-19.
“We are concerned that Cyclone Amphan will put vulnerablecommunities at a dual risk during the COVID19 pandemic,”said Jess Letch, Manager of Emergency Operationsat IFRC’s Regional Office for Asia Pacific.
“The COVID-19 crisishas the potential tohamper humanitarian response efforts. Our biggest challenge is going to be ensuring that the millions of people at risk of losing their homes and livelihoods get the relief and shelter they need, while doing all we can to keep them safe from the new coronavirus.”
In Bangladesh, authorities have prepared 12,000 shelters, three times as many as in previous years to help ensure physical distancing and other COVID-19 hygiene measures. In India, coronavirus quarantine centres are already being shifted further inland to accommodate the cyclone evacuees.
Thousands of Red Cross and Red Crescent volunteers have been mobilised across India, Bangladesh and Myanmar to share early warning messages, help communities prepare and support evacuations where needed.
| Press release
Rakhine crisis - Two years on, the struggle for safety, privacy and dignity
Cox’s Bazar / Kuala Lumpur, 19 August 2019 – Tens of thousands of people who fled violence in Rakhine to camps in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh are living their lives in cramped tents and shelters, in conditions that fall well below international standards.
Two years on from the exodus triggered by violence on 25 August 2017, over 700,000 people live in crowded camps with little space between their small shelters. The average space per person in the camps is 24 square metres but falls to less than 10 square metres in the most densely populated parts of the camps. Minimum standards set by humanitarian organizations call for at least 30 square metres per person.
Syed Ali Nasim Khaliluzzaman, Head of Operation of the Bangladesh Red Crescent Society in Cox’s Bazar, said:
“Space has been a challenge since the beginning of this response. In the emergency phase, our focus was on meeting basic needs and ensuring everyone had a roof over their heads. Now, we must move together to improve basic conditions at the camps, particularly for larger households. As this has become a protracted crisis, we are focusing on longer term planning”
The Red Crescent, supported by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and other partners, is building new shelters that will meet the basic standards for space. They also provide greater protection against the heavy winds common in Cox’s Bazar during the cyclone season, helping to keep families safer.
These new shelters are being constructed now. Families will be able to move voluntarily, freeing up space in other parts of the camp.
Many houses and shelters in nearby host communities are similarly poor. The Red Crescent is supporting 245 families from host communities to build new durable homes that will protect them from risk during the monsoon and cyclone seasons. Many more are receiving advice and guidance on how to safely and securely repair damage to their homes. Overall, the Red Crescent will assist 60,000 people in host communities.
Bangladesh Red Crescent also continues to provide people in the camps with food and relief items, water, sanitation and hygiene promotion, along with other important services including health care and psychosocial support. Bangladesh Red Crescent delivers this assistance through its health facilities, community safe spaces, outreach programmes, and hundreds of volunteers from both Bangladesh and Myanmar.
Despite the efforts of the Red Crescent and other partners, meeting basic needs remains a challenge for all aid groups in Cox’s Bazar. Sanjeev Kumar Kafley, head of IFRC’s sub-office in Cox’s Bazar said:
“Until long-term solutions that address the causes of this crisis are found, hundreds of thousands of people will continue to live precariously in an area that is worryingly exposed to the elements.”
Over the past two years, Bangladesh Red Crescent and its partners have reached over 260,000 people with emergency help including food, water and shelter. More than 268,000 medical consultations have been delivered through 11 health facilities. Some 60 million litres of safe drinking water have been distributed.
IFRC is the world’s largest humanitarian network, comprising 191 National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies working to save lives and promote dignity around the world.
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