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02/10/2023 | Emergency

Armenia: Population movement

Tens of thousands of people have crossed into Armenia via the Lachin corridor leaving everything behind, since the deadly escalation of hostilities. Food, essential services, and medicines are scarce and telecommunications services have been disrupted, making it hard for families to contact one another. The IFRC and its membership are seeking CHF 20 million (of which the IFRC Secretariat seeks CHF 15 million) to support the Armenian Red Cross to meet the needs of families arriving at humanitarian service points including food, water, first aid, and much-needed psychosocial support. Please donate now.

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27/10/2023 | Article

Armenia one month on: Four sisters among many looking for a new home

“Hi, what is your name? How old are you? Do you have a pet?” Speaking in perfect English, Mariana greets visitors from abroad with a series of questions at the community shelter in Metsamor. She also lets them know that she’s nine years old and has a dog named Catherine. Mariana comes from a family of seven – father, mother, grandmother and four sisters. The oldest sister Milena is 11, and the two younger ones, Maria and Lucia are seven and five. The girls are members of the Smiley Club, a local child-friendly space managed by the Armenian Red Cross. It’s one of 28 spaces across the country where children can go after school to play and get help with their homework. For some, the smiles and support they get here also help them cope with the emotional upheaval they’ve recently experienced. No other option Due to the conflict escalation in September 2023, Mariana’s family had to leave their home in Karabakh. They chose to come to Metsamor because they have relatives living here, but the house was not big enough for both families. They eventually had to leave, and didn’t have any other option but to move to a community shelter. The shelter in Metsamor is hosting around 120 people who came to Armenia, either this year or during the previous escalation in 2020. Conditions are dire – rooms are dark, walls are moldy and there is no heating or insulation ahead of the coming winter. Mariana’s family shares a single bedroom and a kitchen. The parents are working hard to be able to buy a house, but it will take them several years to collect enough money. Until then, without help, they have no hope of leaving the shelter Dire need for shelter They are not alone with this concern. One month into the emergency, shelter is becoming a critical need for thousands of families who left for Armenia. Most are staying in community shelters, paid accommodation or with host families. Armenian Red Cross volunteers are providing food, hygene and household items, but there’s an immense need for long-term support. Rent and utility costs are expensive, and many displaced families have no regular income and very limited savings. “The local community has shown immense solidarity, welcoming people from Karabakh into their homes,” says Hicham Diab, IFRC operations manager in Armenia. “Even so, this is not a sustainable solution – displaced people need more permanent and dignified shelter options. Rent and utilities support are key elements of response, but at the moment our IFRC Emergency Appeal is only 23 per cent funded. We are counting on the support of partners inside and outside the Red Cross Red Crescent Movement to help.” “We are thankful to our partners for standing by our side in this situation,” says Anna Yeghiazaryan, Secretary General of the Armenian Red Cross. “The scale of humanitarian need is huge, and responding to it is impossible alone. We are sure that mobilizing the power of humanity will allow us to help those who are in desperate need and try to restore their livesinnewplace.”

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28/09/2023 | Press release

Red Cross responding to major humanitarian needs as tens of thousands cross into Armenia 

Geneva/Budapest/Yerevan, 28 September 2023: Tens of thousands of people have crossed into Armenia via the Lachin corridor leaving everything behind, since the deadly escalation of hostilities. Food, essential services, and medicines are scarce and telecommunications services have been disrupted, making it hard for families to contact one another. Armenian Red Cross teams have mobilized to meet them at humanitarian service points. People are receiving food, water, first aid, and much-needed psychosocial support there. “The majority of people that are coming across are women, children and elderly who have been stranded on the streets of the corridor, coming into Armenia with barely any food or sufficient clothes on them with this kind of weather that is getting colder and colder,” said Hicham Diab, IFRC operations manager in Armenia. “It is an incredible job what the Armenian Red Cross staff and volunteers are doing for an operation that will very likely not take weeks but a much longer-term effort.” The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is supporting the Armenian Red Cross to respond. In Armenia, the humanitarian needs are growing rapidly, and with tens of thousands arriving from the conflict affected area, the IFRC and Armenian Red Cross are scaling up human and financial resources. This includes ensuring an initial 3,000 people with essential items, first aid, and psychosocial support. “Armenian Red Cross teams are supporting in registration, information provision, first aid, and psychosocial support. Assistance to people in transit, including energy bars, water, dry ration packs are also provided,” said Dr. Anna Yeghiazaryan, Armenian Red Cross Society Secretary General. “We will continue to mobilize in the medium and long-term to alleviate suffering of displaced people and meet their humanitarian needs.” The IFRC is coordinating closely with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), which has been responding to the conflict for years. This week, the ICRC delivered nearly 70 metric tons of humanitarian supplies via the Lachin corridor. Its teams have also evacuated over 100 patients in need of critical medical care in recent days to Armenia via ambulance. More information: To request an interview, please contact:[email protected] In Budapest: Edgar Zuniga: +36 20 337 7221 InGeneva: Andrew Thomas: +41763676587 Mrinalini Santhanam: +41 76 381 50 06 Tommaso Della Longa: +41 79 708 43 67

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29/09/2023 | Press release

IFRC launches 20 million Swiss Francs appeal to support people on the move in Armenia

Geneva/Budapest/Yerevan, 29 September 2023: In the wake of escalating hostilities affecting vulnerable communities, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) announces an emergency appeal for 20 million Swiss Francs. This initiative aims to provide immediate relief and long-term support to tens of thousands of people who have recently crossed into Armenia via the Lachin corridor. The IFRC, working in collaboration with the Armenian Red Cross Society, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), and other Red Cross Red Crescent movement partners, has activated contingency plans and mobilized hundreds of staff and volunteers. They are providing urgent support in the form of food, water, first aid, non-food items, mental health services, safe spaces for children and support with restoring contact with missing family members (RFL). “The situation on the ground is dire. We are witnessing families with children so weak they have fainted in their parents' arms. These are circumstances that require immediate and significant emotional support,” said Hicham Diab, Operations Manager of IFRC in Armenia. “As we confront the growing humanitarian needs, we must also look ahead,” said Birgitte Bischoff Ebbesen, Regional Director of IFRC Europe. “For many people who are now displaced, the next steps are daunting. They will need further support as they navigate the many questions of settling somewhere new. At IFRC, we're already planning for the future, aligning our resources for an extended response to offer more sustained support for communities. Therefore, we urge governments, international organizations, and media outlets to help us put a spotlight on this situation and mobilize the resources required.” Local communities have shown immense solidarity by assembling tents, offering food, and even relocating grocery stock for free distribution next to registration points. However, despite these efforts, humanitarian needs continue to grow. Critical services like hospitals are stretched thin, and with the onset of colder weather, shelter has become an increasingly pressing need. Funds raised from this appeal will facilitate the Armenian Red Cross Society and IFRC in offering sustained support for communities, including essential household items, mental health and psychosocial support, and more permanent shelter solutions. More information Your contribution can make an immediate difference. To fund the emergency appeal and support people in their time of dire need, visit the donation pagefor more information. To request an interview, please contact: [email protected] IFRC - Europe Anastasia Sharkova: +7 916 040 19 72 IFRC - Global Tommaso Della Longa: +41 79 708 43 67 Mrinalini Santhanam: +41 76 381 50 06

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06/08/2021 | Press release

IFRC: Delta variant a huge threat in Eastern Europe, South Caucasus and Central Asia

Budapest/Geneva, 6 August 2021 – The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is calling for more assistance and for vaccinations to be stepped up in Eastern Europe, South Caucasus and Central Asia, where rising COVID-19 cases and deaths triggered by the Delta variant are putting health systems under severe strain. Europe now has one of the highest per capita rates of COVID-19 in the world and has just passed 60 million coronavirus infections. There were sharp increases throughout July – and more than one million cases reported in the last seven days alone[i]. As the majority of Eastern Europe, South Caucasus and Central Asia is still unvaccinated, medical services in some countries are becoming overwhelmed. Birgitte Bischoff Ebbesen, IFRC’s Regional Director for Europe, said: “Time is of the essence. With the highly contagious Delta variant sweeping across the region, millions of people in fragile or unstable settings are at heightened risk. “With support from the IFRC, National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies are working tirelessly to help those in need, but additional support is needed to save lives and address long term socio economic and health effects. The new wave of the pandemic is having a knock-on effect and will significantly impact the wellbeing of the most vulnerable.” In Georgia, new infections have skyrocketed by 90 per cent in the last fortnight. Authorities had to expand the capacity of pediatric wards recently, as more children were getting sick, and the number of hotels used as clinics for people with mild symptoms is up. In Russia, daily infections have almost tripled since the beginning of June, with 23,000 on average in the past week. In Kazakhstan, Armenia and Azerbaijan hospitalisations are on the rise. The situation is also deteriorating in Ukraine, as well as in Turkey, Montenegro and Baltic countries. Younger generations, who often come last in vaccination campaigns, are being increasingly affected by COVID-19 in the region. This is adding pressure on health systems, as many need to be hospitalised, and can negatively impact other people around them too. Ebbesen highlighted that vaccination is the key to curb the spread of COVID-19, together with maintaining crucial preventive measures such as mask wearing, hand washing, physical distancing and meeting outdoors or in well ventilated spaces. However, there is a widening gap across Europe: in the richest countries, 60 per cent of people had received at least one dose of the vaccine as of 27 July, as opposed to less than 10 per cent in the lowest income countries in Eastern Europe, South Caucasus and Central Asia. “Vaccination, not vaccines, saves lives. Donors, governments and civil society, we must all do our part so that vaccines get into the arms of those who need them most. “But this depends largely on the availability of doses and people’s willingness to get immunised. It is essential to collectively step up our assistance so that everyone has access to vaccination and nobody hesitates whether to get a jab or not,” stressed Ebbesen. Worryingly, as holiday travel and easing of lockdowns further the risk of COVID-19 spreading, vital operational funds to support people in need are running out. “We are concerned about not being able to meet the growing needs, particularly as the socio-economic crisis deepens. Not even 60 per cent of IFRC’s COVID-19 Emergency Appeal is covered, which limits our capacity to provide basic humanitarian aid,” warned Ebbesen. [i] For more information, please contact: In Budapest: -Ainhoa Larrea, +36 705 070 131, [email protected] - Corinne Ambler, +36 704 306 506, [email protected] In Geneva: - Teresa Goncalves, +44 7891 857 056, [email protected]

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13/01/2021 | Press release

New study finds coronavirus has left older people poorer, sicker and more alone

Budapest/Geneva, 13 January 2021 – The COVID-19 pandemic is having catastrophic health, social and financial impacts on older people in Europe’s South Caucasus region, according to a new study led by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC). The study, which was carried out in Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia, shows that the consequences of COVID-19 are being borne disproportionately by poor and older people who have become poorer, sicker and more isolated. The research involved 2,200 older people, as well as health care workers and Red Cross and Red Crescent volunteer aged-care workers. Olga Dzhumaeva , the head of the IFRC’s Country Cluster delegation for the South Caucuses, said older people make up a growing proportion of society in all three countries, and were already facing diverse and complex challenges before the onset of COVID-19. “In all three countries, access to appropriate care among older people was found to be deficient. Key findings from the report include: The ability of older people to cover basic expenses has dropped significantly since the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak due to decreased family support. The report sets out short and long-term recommendations for those involved in older people’s health and social care to ensure better coverage, targeting and quality of services so the risks to older people are reduced in the current pandemic and future crises. These include improved coordination, guidance and support to public bodies and service providers engaged in older people’s health and social care to ensure better coverage, targeting and quality of services. The report can be found on the IFRC website. It was carried out in collaboration with the Armenian Red Cross Society, the Red Crescent Society of Azerbaijan, the Georgia Red Cross Society, the Austrian Red Cross, the Swiss Red Cross, and the UN Population Fund. Worsening of older people’s health was registered as a secondary effect of COVID-19, along with negative impacts on mental health and spiritual wellbeing, physical activity and nutrition and diet, mostly due to pre-existing emotional instability, lower self-esteem and limited mobility. Access to health care services has become significantly more difficult for those not receiving home-based care, due both to the lock-down and the shift in focus of health care facilities to the control of COVID-19 cases. Social contact with neighbours, family and the broader community has decreased. This, combined with limited mobility brought on by COVID restrictions and, hence, even greater dependence on support from neighbours, relatives and community, has adversely affected older people’s emotional states, especially in urban areas. COVID-19 restrictions have limited older people’s access to most public services and infrastructure, posing a challenge on top of the digital divide between the young and older generations. Ageism along with physical and financial abuse was reported in all three countries, particularly in urban areas, and that discussion of these forms of abuse was taboo. Caregivers were under increased pressure despite changes in their own personal and family situations but they continued to provide care regardless.

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16/12/2020 | Article

Nagorno-Karabakh: Fleeing conflict, facing the unknown

The IFRC is working alongside both Armenian Red Cross Society and Azerbaijan Red Crescent Society, in coordination with International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement partners, to support people affected by the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. On the outskirts of a small town, a kindergarten that usually resonates with the joyful sound of children is eerily silent. Just three children play quietly in the dusty yard out front. Washing hangs above a rainbow-coloured fence, the fading artwork of small children decorates on the walls inside. This kindergarten had been closed because of COVID-19, but in the last few weeks its doors have opened to a new group of people in urgent need. At its peak, around 80 people – mostly women, children and the elderly – were living, sleeping and eating here. The people arrived in waves from areas affected by the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict which escalated significantly on 27 September 2020. One family of eight, a mother, her five daughters and two grandchildren, have been staying in a shared room for the past few days. They left their home almost as soon as the conflict escalated, recalling the walls of their home shaking from shelling close by. “Our children were afraid,” describes the mother. “One of the boys could not speak for two days. That is when we knew it was not safe.” The kindergarten has basic washing and cooking utilities, shared by all who stay here. It is unclear how long people will need to stay, and resources generously provided by community members are running low. Food and other essential items are provided by Armenian Red Cross Society, local authorities and other agencies. Armenian Red Cross Society volunteers also provide psychosocial support to children staying in shelters, and to the wounded in hospitals and their loved ones. “The humanitarian needs of affected people are diverse, from social and health to psychological issues”, Armenian Red Cross Society Secretary General Anna Yeghiazaryan says. “The Armenian Red Cross Society, which operates throughout Armenia as a neutral, independent organization, is committed to doing everything it can to respond to these needs.” “As winter arrives, the needs of these people will multiply. We are working to ensure continued access to basic services and necessities, including heated accommodation, electricity, water, and support to host families.” Though the ceasefire announcement has meant that some have returned to their homes, more are afraid to go back. The family of eight is among those who feel they cannot yet return, but do not know where they can go from here. Many children are unable to attend school, though some have been able to attend schools near their temporary places of shelter. “I am in my last year of school, I want to finish. I am planning to continue my education at university next year, but I don’t know whether I will be able to get back to school,” shares one of the young women staying at the kindergarten. “We want people to know we are here, we exist, we are not forgotten.”

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06/05/2019 | Article

National Society Investment Alliance: First Funding Announcement

The National Society Investment Alliance (NSIA) today announced the results of its first round of funding, with accelerator investments awarded to the Red Cross Societies of Lebanon and Ukraine, and bridge funding awards made to a further eight National Societies (Armenia, Colombia, Comoros, Malawi, Namibia, Uganda and Zambia). Together this represents a combined total of nearly 1.5 million CHF. Announcing the results of the first funding round, Co-chairs of the NSIA Steering Committee, Dr. Jemilah Mahmood, Under-Secretary General for Partnerships at the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), and Balthasar Staehelin, Deputy Director-General of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), said: “We are delighted to announce this first round of NSIA funding, the culmination of a process that has involved collaboration and cooperation from across the Movement, and demonstrates the demand and potential for investment in National Society capacity.” To respond to the varied needs of National Societies, NSIA can award up to one million Swiss francs of accelerator funding to any one National Society over a five-year period. In addition, bridge grants of up to 50,000 Swiss francs over 12 months can help National Societies prepare the ground for future investment from NSIA or elsewhere. To date, NSIA has been supported by generous contributions from the governments of Switzerland, The United States, and Canada. First Round of NSIA Funding The first call for proposals received 48 applications from National Societies across all regions, with a range of contextual challenges and organizational development needs. In response, the NSIA Office conducted an independent and objective process of consultation and review, working with colleagues from the IFRC and the ICRC at the national and regional level, as well as the National Societies themselves. The Steering Committee agreed that the first 10 National Societies that will receive bridge funding are: Armenia, Colombia, Comoros, Lebanon, Malawi, Namibia, Nigeria, Uganda, Ukraine and Zambia. Lebanon and Ukraine will receive the accelerator funding in this first round. The proposals from National Societies speak to a wide-range of needs, and are underlined by the desire to increase their sustainability, independence and ability to provide relevant services to vulnerable populations. Key themes across the applications include: efforts to increase financial sustainability, develop system and structures at the national and branch level, and improve governance and accountability. Selected National Societies Accelerator Funding The Lebanese Red Cross will use a substantial accelerator investment grant to strengthen its Project Monitoring Evaluation and Reporting (PMER), communications, and fundraising capacity with the aim of meeting more than 70% of its core services costs through local sources by 2023. Similarly, the Ukrainian Red Cross Society will utilise an accelerator investment to develop its resource mobilization capacities, building on initial planning and analysis and helping the National Society respond to the ongoing crisis in the country. Bridge Funding The bridge grant will support the Armenian Red Cross Society to develop a resource mobilization plan, focusing on un-earmarked income generation that is urgently required to meet ARCS programmatic activity needs. The Colombian Red Cross Society will receive bridge funding to help develop, test and implement new initiatives which will ensure regular income, strengthening the National Society in three crosscutting areas: communication and marketing, reporting and training. There is a need for the Comoros Red Crescent to enhance staff core competencies with regard to governance and financial management. The bridge grant will therefore allow the development of an investment plan for the National Society to best use potential future investment. NSIA bridge grant funding will enable the Malawi Red Cross Society to conduct a thorough and detailed assessment of potential national level income sources, subsequently developing an investment proposal to pursue the most promising. It is expected that through the bridge grant implementation, the Namibia Red Cross will be able to resolve a number a of critical challenges by consolidating its financial statements and systems, increasing financial liquidity and developing a forward-looking strategy. The Nigerian Red Cross Society will receive bridge funding to help explore the opportunities for developing commercial first aid services in the country, conducting a detailed analysis and developing a business plan for future investment. The Uganda Red Cross Society will receive bridge funding to work with its operational network of 51 branches to consolidate and improve its first aid training, and explore the possibility to unlock this resource and generate national level income. With several institutional changes needed within the Zambia Red Cross Society in order to achieve its development goals, a bridge grant will allow the ZRCS to undertake a midterm review of its existing strategic plan and developed and improved strategic and investment plan looking forward.

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