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04/10/2019 | Press release

IFRC, UNICEF and USAID unite efforts to strengthen capacity for emergency preparedness and response in Central Asia

Almaty/Geneva, 4 October 2019– UNICEF’s Europe and Central Asia Regional Office (ECARO) and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) today announced the start of a joint programme, “Strengthening Local and National Capacities for Emergency Preparedness and Response in High Earthquake Risk Countries of Central Asia.” Supported by USAID and the Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance (USAID/OFDA), the programme will assist populations at risk of a major earthquake and other disasters in Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. The results of the joint programme will contribute to the broader UNICEF-IFRC Initiative for Emergency Early Action and Resilience Building in Central Asia. UNICEF said that strengthening the capacities of frontline responders was a critical factor in delivering early action for children and communities during an emergency, including a major earthquake. “This partnership is particularly important when considering that earthquakes become disasters when we are not prepared,” said Philippe Cori, UNICEF Deputy Regional Director for Europe and Central Asia. The collaboration with IFRC/Red Crescent Societies would contribute to building the resilience of children and their families in Central Asia, the agency added. Central Asia is prone to earthquakes, floods, mudslides, avalanches, droughts and extreme temperatures, all of which can cause loss of life, displacement, family separation, trauma, disruption of education, healthcare, food insecurity, and poverty. An estimated 99.9% of children in Kyrgyzstan and 88.3% in Tajikistan live in areas of high to very high seismic risk. Major urban areas in the region are particularly vulnerable due to high population density and continuing concerns over the seismic safety of buildings and infrastructure. Having national disaster management systems not fully adapted to address children’s vulnerabilities and needs, low capacity of national systems to withstand the disasters, limited nature of cross-sectoral implementation of the disaster risk reduction and mitigation measures, limited DRR knowledge and systematic training, make children more vulnerable to shocks and stresses. Bayarmaa Luntan, Head of the IFRC office for Central Asia, said, “All communities in Central Asia are at risk from disasters that can strike at any time. Helping people to be ready and better able to tackle them is the best way to save lives and reduces losses. That is why this programme is so important.” As part of the activities planned in the project, a sub-regional training for emergency supply and logistics experts will take place in Almaty in November. Staff from National Red Crescent societies, UNICEF Country Offices, and national and local governments will be trained on clear actions, roles and accountabilities in responding to a major earthquake in Central Asia.

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03/07/2017 | Press release

IFRC President “inspired” by visit to Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan

Astana, 3 July 2017 – The work of the Red Crescent in Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan is building hope and resilience in both countries, Mr Tadateru Konoé, President of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), said today. The IFRC President visited the Central Asian nations to meet with volunteers and staff of the Red Crescent Society of Uzbekistan and the Kazakh Red Crescent, and to hold high-level discussions with Government leaders on how best to support and promote humanitarian activities in their countries. “What I have seen in both countries has inspired me, and gives me a great deal of hope,” said Mr Konoé. “Red Crescent volunteers and staff are working very hard to support people in need and to promote dignity and resilience in communities across Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. “Both countries are home to very diverse communities, with diverse challenges and opportunities. But the sense of social cohesion and respect for diversity shone through very clearly, as did the people’s admiration for the Red Crescent.” In Uzbekistan, Mr Konoé was welcomed to Tashkent and Samarkand by the President of the Red Crescent, Prof. Khamid Yakubovich Karimov, and was given briefings on the organization’s work and its successful membership structure, which has encouraged more than a million people to become supporters and volunteers. This was the first visit by a serving IFRC president since the Red Crescent Society of Uzbekistan was founded in 1925. In a series of high-level meetings, Uzbekistan’s Deputy Prime Minister, Mrs Tanzila Narbayeva, and other ministers spoke of their understanding of and support for the Red Crescent Society of Uzbekistan’s work as an independent humanitarian auxiliary to the Government, and agreed that this unique role should be strengthened to help build more resilient communities across the country. During his visit to Kazakhstan, Mr Konoé was welcomed by the Kazakh Red Crescent’s president, Dr. Yerkebek Kambarovich Argymbayev, and met volunteers and staff at the Astana branch. He learned of the Red Crescent’s work in health, blood donation, disaster response and prevention, and social support services, and met several labour migrants who are being supported by the Kazakh Red Crescent and partner organisation Zhariya. “I was particularly encouraged to meet labour migrants who were so empowered by the help they received that they are now serving as Red Crescent volunteers themselves,” said Mr Konoé. “One young volunteer told me that she believes everyone wants to do something good in the world. The Red Cross and Red Crescent give this opportunity to everyone, no matter who they are or where they are from, and I can see the positive results in Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan.” Mr Konoé and Dr Argymbayev met with Kazakhstan’s Foreign Minister, Mr Kayrat Abdrakhmanov, on 3 July. The IFRC President thanked the Minister for his Government’s support to the Kazakh Red Crescent, and asked him to consider exploring an enhanced partnership that would include the adoption of a Red Crescent Law in Kazakhstan, and further backing for the Kazakh Red Crescent’s plan to host the 10th European Regional Conference of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies in Almaty in May 2018.

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