“I can buy diapers for my disabled son thanks to the Azerbaijan Red Crescent’s cash support”
By Hanifi Kınacı
“My dear son Fuad is my day and night, my life. He wakes up at 4 in the morning, and says: ‘Mom, take me on your lap’. I rest a little bit and prepare breakfast, as my daughters have to follow online lessons due to the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Şiriyeva Rəxşəndə is one of the nearly 1,000 people who have received financial assistance from the Azerbaijan Red Crescent Society through a project to help vulnerable families heavily affected by the COVID-19 pandemic meet their basic needs.
It has been a historic milestone, the first time the organization has provided humanitarian aid through cash and vouchers. This has been possible thanks to the emergency appeal the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) launched to support those most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Very strong, full of compassion and energy, Rəxşəndə welcomed us into their home. It was almost impossible not to be captivated after entering the house, as all the walls were covered in colourful paintings. Amid lockdowns and confinements, one felt in a different land in each of those images.
When asked who the author was, she pointed proudly to the gentleman sitting quietly in the corner:“My husband.” “These pieces of art and his imagination are our source of income,”she added.
Rəxşəndə underlined that she is“a happy, hopeful mother of three children regardless of the hardships that life brings.”She has two daughters who are currently studying and a son, Fuad, who is disabled. He needs adult diapers, and she had to go into debt to be able to buy them at the market.
The COVID-19 pandemic made the situation worse. Like millions of people around the world, Rəxşəndə, her husband and one of their daughters got infected by the virus. They recovered quickly, but were confronted with more problems.
“Our social relations were naturally affected: no visitors, no passers-by. And I have hernia, gained weight and couldn’t carry Fuad anymore, so he could only take my arm. Restrictions and curfew were another challenge, especially for shopping,”she said.
Her main concern were adult diapers, vital for her son and a great ease for her. The constantly increasing price of these essential items worried her. Furthermore, she and her husband had take a loan to get a computer so that one of their daughters could attend her virtual classes.
In normal times, they could earn a living and make ends meet even if Fuad’s special needs were demanding. With the COVID-19 pandemic, they faced additional difficulties and new expenses.“As we only had Fuad’s disability pension and my husband’s, we were not able to pay off the bank credit,”she explained.
The cash assistance provided by the Azerbaijan Red Crescent Society came right in time: Rəxşəndə was able to close all her debts in the market and buy diapers, purchase other necessities and even take care of the installments of the loan they had requested and which they used to get her daughter’s computer.
While we were talking, her husband got up and took his canvas. Mother and son hugged each other.
Despite all the challenges of life, of time, they are firmly together and blissful.
Rəxşəndə’s story underlines the importance of cash and voucher assistance in the humanitarian sphere, as this aid modality offers a dignified way for people to prioritize their needs and spend money accordingly.
“When Fuad has diapers and his favourite oat-flakes, I am the happiest person in this world and I don’t need anything else,”highlighted Rəxşəndə.
Photo credit: Hüseyin Salimov, volunteer of the Azerbaijan Red Crescent Society
| Press release
IFRC: Delta variant a huge threat in Eastern Europe, South Caucasus and Central Asia
Budapest/Geneva, 6 August 2021 – The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is calling for more assistance and for vaccinations to be stepped up in Eastern Europe, South Caucasus and Central Asia, where rising COVID-19 cases and deaths triggered by the Delta variant are putting health systems under severe strain.
Europe now has one of the highest per capita rates of COVID-19 in the world and has just passed 60 million coronavirus infections. There were sharp increases throughout July – and more than one million cases reported in the last seven days alone[i].
As the majority of Eastern Europe, South Caucasus and Central Asia is still unvaccinated, medical services in some countries are becoming overwhelmed.
Birgitte Bischoff Ebbesen, IFRC’s Regional Director for Europe, said:
“Time is of the essence. With the highly contagious Delta variant sweeping across the region, millions of people in fragile or unstable settings are at heightened risk.
“With support from the IFRC, National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies are working tirelessly to help those in need, but additional support is needed to save lives and address long term socio economic and health effects. The new wave of the pandemic is having a knock-on effect and will significantly impact the wellbeing of the most vulnerable.”
In Georgia, new infections have skyrocketed by 90 per cent in the last fortnight. Authorities had to expand the capacity of pediatric wards recently, as more children were getting sick, and the number of hotels used as clinics for people with mild symptoms is up.
In Russia, daily infections have almost tripled since the beginning of June, with 23,000 on average in the past week. In Kazakhstan, Armenia and Azerbaijan hospitalisations are on the rise. The situation is also deteriorating in Ukraine, as well as in Turkey, Montenegro and Baltic countries.
Younger generations, who often come last in vaccination campaigns, are being increasingly affected by COVID-19 in the region. This is adding pressure on health systems, as many need to be hospitalised, and can negatively impact other people around them too.
Ebbesen highlighted that vaccination is the key to curb the spread of COVID-19, together with maintaining crucial preventive measures such as mask wearing, hand washing, physical distancing and meeting outdoors or in well ventilated spaces.
However, there is a widening gap across Europe: in the richest countries, 60 per cent of people had received at least one dose of the vaccine as of 27 July, as opposed to less than 10 per cent in the lowest income countries in Eastern Europe, South Caucasus and Central Asia.
“Vaccination, not vaccines, saves lives. Donors, governments and civil society, we must all do our part so that vaccines get into the arms of those who need them most.
“But this depends largely on the availability of doses and people’s willingness to get immunised. It is essential to collectively step up our assistance so that everyone has access to vaccination and nobody hesitates whether to get a jab or not,” stressed Ebbesen.
Worryingly, as holiday travel and easing of lockdowns further the risk of COVID-19 spreading, vital operational funds to support people in need are running out.
“We are concerned about not being able to meet the growing needs, particularly as the socio-economic crisis deepens. Not even 60 per cent of IFRC’s COVID-19 Emergency Appeal is covered, which limits our capacity to provide basic humanitarian aid,” warned Ebbesen.
For more information, please contact:
-Ainhoa Larrea, +36 705 070 131, [email protected]
- Corinne Ambler, +36 704 306 506, [email protected]
- Teresa Goncalves, +44 7891 857 056, [email protected]
Red Crescent Society of Azerbaijan
Nagorno-Karabakh: Starting over after losing everything
By Radostina Karageorgieva, IFRC
The IFRC is providing support to the Armenian Red Cross Society and Azerbaijan Red Crescent Society, in coordination with International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement partners, to assist those affected by the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
In many regions in Azerbaijan, houses, shops, and public buildings show the devastating impact of a 30-year-old war. After the escalation of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict on 27 September, cities, towns and other populated areas in the country were shelled, leaving behind destruction and loss. What was once a quiet residential area is now scattered pieces of debris that families are rummaging through to recover some of their old possessions.
[caption id="attachment_72460" align="aligncenter" width="1000"] November 2020. Azerbaijan. Thousands of buildings have been damaged or completely destroyed as a result of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.[/caption]
Residents of the houses share their stories of being awoken in the middle of the night by explosions and rushing to save their loved ones.
"My granddaughter screamed at the sound of the explosion", one resident recalls as he points to the place where his bedroom once stood. "All I could do was grab her and get out as soon as I could. I passed her through the window to my wife."
[caption id="attachment_72464" align="aligncenter" width="1000"] Ganja, Azerbaijan. November 2020. While some people affected by shelling have returned to their homes, many are staying with relatives, at shelters or in basements.[/caption]
The escalation of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict in September has resulted in many injuries and deaths of civilians including women, children and elderly people. According to public authorities, during that time, a total of 93 Azerbaijani citizens were killed, 407 injured, and more than 40,000 households had their homes and livelihoods affected. Many of them had to leave their houses and stayed at temporary shelters such as schools, civic halls, kindergarten buildings, unheated basements or the homes of relatives or friends.
Fighting also had an impact on peoples’ income and ability to earn. Farmers had difficulty reaching their fields. What’s more, this escalation had taken a heavy toll on the mental health of the population, who have already lived with the impact of this conflict for almost 30 years. Then the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic only brought additional physical and mental health impacts.
[caption id="attachment_72468" align="aligncenter" width="1000"] Yevlakh, Azerbaijan. November 2020. With the support of the Turkish Red Crescent, the Azerbaijan Red Crescent Society is distributing essential items to over 1,500 households left without shelter as a result of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict escalation.[/caption]
With people left without shelter and basic necessities as the winter conditions worsen, the Azerbaijan Red Crescent Society has been working with Movement partners to provide humanitarian assistance to people in need. Together, they deployed relief items to assist vulnerable households affected by the conflict. Since October, over 125,000 people in the country have received aid items, including winter clothing, bedding, kitchen sets, hygiene items, and personal protection equipment.
With an agreement to end the conflict signed on 10 November 2020, many are hoping that they can start healing and rebuilding what they have lost as a result of the conflict.
"We've all been through so much stress. Thank God that the war is over. Now we are getting treatment."
| 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.
| Press release
Azerbaijan Red Crescent Society and IFRC mourn death of volunteer
Geneva/Budapest/Baku, 29 October 2020 - The Azerbaijan Red Crescent Society and International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) have today condemned the death of a Red Crescent volunteer who was providing humanitarian assistance in the town of Barda, Azerbaijan.
Maharram Anvar Oglu Mustafayev, a 49-year-old father of two, died yesterday afternoon while providing humanitarian aid in Barda city centre. Mr Mustafayev has been an Azerbaijan Red Crescent Society volunteer for six years and was a dedicated and respected member of the Barda local branch. He was killed when his car was hit by a rocket.
Two female Red Crescent volunteers, Hajiyeva Ulviya and Babishova Fatma, were also injured while identifying the needs of people living in a temporary shelter at the Barda school No. 6, 500 metres from the scene. They have been discharged from hospital and are back on duty. The Red Crescent volunteers are among many civilians killed and injured yesterday.
President of Azerbaijan Red Crescent Society Dr Novruz Aslanov said he appreciated the messages of condolence and support received from throughout the world and from the Red Cross Red Crescent family.
“Unfortunately, staff and volunteers of the Azerbaijan Red Crescent Society have made the ultimate sacrifice at the cost of their lives and their health. Like Maharram, all the volunteers of the Red Crescent Society are providing vital humanitarian assistance at the front line and beyond. We will continue our mandate to provide assistance to the many who so desperately need it,” Dr Aslanov said.
“On behalf of the members and volunteers of our National Society, we send our condolences to Maharram’s family. May he rest in peace.”
President of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) Francesco Rocca said deaths and injuries among innocent civilians is completely unacceptable.
“All sides have obligations under International Humanitarian Law, including taking measures to protect and spare civilians and civilian infrastructure such as schools, hospitals, and markets,” Mr Rocca said.
“Civilians, including humanitarians, must be spared. We are shocked and appalled at the death of Mr Mustafayev and the injury of two of his colleagues. Our heartfelt sympathy and condolences are with his family and with Azerbaijan Red Crescent Society.”