International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement statement at the International Conference in Solidarity with Venezuelan Refugees and Migrants
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement welcomes the International Conference in Solidarity with Venezuelan Refugees and Migrants and their Host Countries and Communities co-organized by the Government of Canada and the European Commission.
The largest population movement in the Americas region’s recent history continues to be a tragic and underfunded humanitarian crisis.
Last year, I witnessed the conditions that migrants face on the route through Central America and Mexico.
The stories I heard from people who made this journey were of unimaginable suffering and horror. They were stories of exploitation, abuse, separation and loss of contacts with loved ones and, for too many—death.
The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement—National Societies, the IFRC and the ICRC—works with, and for people on the move, regardless of their status, seeking to enhance their protection and access to essential services and humanitarian assistance, in their countries of origin, transit and destination in more than 17 countries across the Americas.
Our experience, local reach and analysis tell us that despite our multi-stakeholder efforts, migrants still face a trail of unmet needs, including barriers to accessing essential humanitarian assistance and protection.
Our humanitarian imperative requires us to ensure that no one is left behind.
We must seek common, long-term solutions and investment to address the needs of people on the move in Venezuela and across the Americas region.
To do so, we must work together to ensure the following:
First—We believe that national policies must be aligned with national practices that favour social inclusion, and non-discrimination.
The priority should always be to prevent and address the separation of families.
Second: We believe that migrants must have guaranteed access to humanitarian assistance, essential services, information, justice, and protection in respect of their rights, irrespective of their status.
Red Cross Red Crescent Humanitarian Service Points—strategically located along key migration routes—provide lifesaving and protection services that address the needs of migrants and absorb critical public service gaps.
Invest in them, support migrants to access them.
Third: We recognize that governments have a responsibility to facilitate the work of humanitarian actors who provide principled support to migrants journeying along dangerous routes.
Local and national actors including National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies play a critical role in supporting migrants in vulnerable situations.
Individually and together, the components of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement stand ready to provide humanitarian assistance and protection to the migrants in most vulnerable situations and host communities, keeping the response as local as possible and as global as necessary, and always in coordination with States.
IFRC Secretary General on the year ahead: "Hope in the midst of hopelessness"
It’s easy to feel a sense of hopelessness these days – climate crises, people on the verge of starvation in parts of Africa, multiple wars, protracted conflicts, people having to leave their homes out of desperation, shameful cases of exclusion in many parts of the world, rising mental health crises, people not having basic access to water and sanitation. This list can go on and on.
While these crises are affecting everyone, the marginalized, excluded, and last mile communities are bearing the brunt of these crises disproportionately.
Some 43 years ago, I signed up to be a young volunteer of the Nepal Red Cross. I joined not knowing how my life would unfold and where this would lead. I didn’t fully understand then, but I do now – the mission and mandate of our IFRC network, and the fundamental principles that guide our work with a very simple vision--to make a positive difference in people’s lives.
Three years ago, we didn’t know the scale of impact of a global pandemic, international armed conflict in the middle of Europe and all other global crises we have been responding to.
In this context, let me share some of my reflections on the current state of play.
Reflection on the IFRC’s mandate and relevance
As the world grapples with “polycrisis”, our mandate becomes as relevant as ever, if not more.
The IFRC is at the forefront of humanitarian efforts in times of disaster, crises, and other emergencies. By providing immediate assistance and long-term sustainable development programmes, the IFRC network puts people at the centre of vital, life-saving assistance.
We work to strengthen the resilience of communities in vulnerable settings, ensuring they are better prepared for and better able to cope with our changing world. In a time of great global disparities in terms of access to services, we bridge the gap.
The role of truly local organizations like our member National Societies is critical to reach the most disadvantaged sections of societies. Localization is fundamental as crises grow; but resources do not keep pace with them. Business as usual is not going to work. True empowerment of community organizations and decolonization of aid will be critical in 2023 and beyond.
Reflection on our fundamental principles, particularly the principle of neutrality
The threat to our principles, particularly the principle of neutrality, lies in the fact that the international armed conflict in Ukraine has taken on a much-heightened political dimension. This has placed great pressure on the Red Cross Red Crescent Movement.
We must maintain a neutral stance and perform impartial aid operations, to ensure our principle of neutrality is observed. While we remain sensitive to the challenges emerging out of the conflict and we will be doing everything in our capacity to deliver on our mandate, it is essential that our fundamental principles remain the bedrock of our actions. Failing to do so will irreparably damage the notion of neutral, independent humanitarian action.
Amid rapid changes in the global humanitarian landscape, one thing remains constant – that’s our fundamental principles. Our values and principles transcend all the divisions that exist in the world.
Reflection on current trends
We closely monitor the global trends that impact our work. Climate and Environmental crises have been at the forefront. Social issues like the erosion of trust, migration and displacement, inequality, global health and food crises are directly linked to our mandate. Economic issues like the cost-of-living crisis and energy crises will impact our work. Technological issues, like the opportunity created by digitalization as well as the risks arising from the digital divide and those linked to humanitarian data security, will have to be considered. We must also be mindful of the global political landscape and current lack of global political leadership able to deal with multiple crises.
The international armed conflict in Ukraine will significantly impact the geopolitical landscape and will exacerbate the humanitarian situation across the globe. We must be humble enough to acknowledge that there is no humanitarian solution to most of these crises. There must be a political solution and we must support and advocate for the same.
Reflection on our ambitions
Our ambitions are simple as we deal with these trends.
We will continue to be bold in our support to our membership both on humanitarian action and in building resilience.
We will work harder to build a trustful relationship with our membership and governance structure.
We will invest more in National Society transformations leveraging the power of youth and volunteers. Advancing gender and inclusion will require consistent push.
We must do more to be a learning organization that continuously evolves. Within the family, we will continue to build mutually respectful movement cooperation.
We will expand our humanitarian diplomacy efforts and further strengthen our highly professional partnership with all partners. Further building on the new operating model and new resourcing architecture, we will develop more inclusive IFRC wide approaches.
We will accelerate our digitalization journey.
We will continue to strengthen agility and accountability. Respectful workplace, issues of fraud and corruption, sexual exploitation, abuse and harassment, racism, and discrimination will be dealt with proactively and decisively.
The world is full of daunting challenges. But it is also full of people and organizations committed to confront them and work together to bring about positive change. We are one of those organizations.
We will lead from the front, working with our membership and their volunteers. We will be bold in our actions, but calm and composed in our approaches.
There will of course be challenges along the way, but we will always move forward with integrity. We will have to be at our best when the challenges are the greatest. And we will have to always bring hope amid hopelessness.
| Press release
IFRC partners with the Muslim World League to support humanitarian objectives
Geneva, 6 December 2022 – The IFRC is honoured to announce its partnership with the Muslim World League (MWL) to support humanitarian objectives.
The agreement between the IFRC and MWL creates a broad mandate for the humanitarian work and objectives of both organizations. It establishes important objectives to assist those impacted by the international armed conflict in Ukraine. These objectives include, but are not limited to:
Providing financial assistance for displaced people to support their basic needs
Providing shelter to those who left their homes and those whose homes were damaged or destroyed
Providing water, sanitation, hygiene, and health assistance
Strengthening National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies’ response capacities
The agreement between the IFRC and MWL also seeks to support migrants and displaced people from disasters and crises in other regions. This humanitarian support includes:
Food and non-food items
Water, sanitation, and hygiene
Health, including mental health support
Restoring families broken apart
Prevention of sexual and gender-based violence
The promotion of social cohesion between people on the move and host communities
Supporting migrants and host communities to enhance livelihoods, community-based resilience, and economic and social reintegration
The agreement also sets the goal of cooperation around innovative financing structures and activities, including Shariah compliant fundraising tools.
"We are confident that the new partnership with the Muslim World League will be significant, in order to reach those impacted by disasters and crises around the world.Our joint commitment to humanity and humanitarian action will be strengthened by this collaboration,"said IFRC Secretary General, Jagan Chapagain.
“Cooperation among international organizations such as the Muslim World League and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies is crucial to achieving our humanitarian goals,”said MWL Secretary General, His Excellency Sheikh Dr. Mohammed Al-Issa.
“The Muslim World League is honoured to work alongside the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies to bring humanitarian aid to those impacted by the international armed conflict in Ukraine and to support migrants and displaced people,” he continued.
West Africa migration: Red Cross offers an oasis of help and hope to migrants in Kolda, Senegal
"They are exposed to violence, exploitation, abuse, security risks, sexual and gender-based violence, and all kinds of dangers along their migratory routes; here we offer them hope, as well as protection, assistance, guidance and counselling”.
This is how Mariama Mballo, a social worker, sums up the work carried out at the Kolda Humanitarian Service Point (HSP) run by the Senegalese Red Cross and IFRC in southern Senegal.
"The Kolda HSP is a centre for listening, psychosocial support, counselling and assistance for migrants. It offers an anonymous, confidential and free space for reception and counselling", says the 30-year-old sociologist by training, who has been working there since February 2022.
Senegal, historically considered a destination country for migrants in West Africa, has become a transit country. Due to its geographical location, migrants, especially those coming from West Africa, pass through Senegal on their journey north to Maghreb countries or Europe in search of a better life.
The importance of psychosocial support
Travelling along perilous migration routes can have a profound impact on both the physical and mental health of migrants.
The aim of the psychosocial support provided in Kolda is to help people on the move regain a certain normality, mental balance and, above all, to encourage people to be active and committed to their own recovery—by finding defence and protection mechanisms that work for them.
When migrants in transit have needs that cannot be met at the HSP, they are referred to other external partner services.
"The key to the project is its volunteers, in fact, they are the 'front door', the ones who first receive the migrants, listen to them and then direct them to the social worker for an active and in-depth listening", stresses Mariama.
Staff working in Kolda can also sometimes become overwhelmed when listening to the experiences recounted to them by migrants during counselling sessions.
“Yes, there are stories that shock us, but we have the capacity to overcome them in order to offer migrants the guidance and support they need," says Mariama.
Meeting people’s wide-ranging needs
People on the move can access other vital assistance, such as food and water, in Kolda. Many migrants who arrive, including women and children, have gone days without food as they undertake their long journeys through often inhospitable areas.
Kolda's volunteers and staff also offer people useful advice and counselling on issues such as human trafficking, regaining contact with their families or the handling of important travel documents.
And, if necessary, migrants can also receive legal assistance, always with the utmost confidentiality and protection, as well as basic help with clothing and hygiene in order to ensure their health and well-being.
"The people who arrive at the HSP are often in a situation of advanced vulnerability, so we do everything we can to immediately meet their most pressing needs," says Mariama.
Volunteers don’t just support migrants. They also carry out intensive work with the local community to raise awareness and knowledge about respect for the rights and dignity of migrants.
This important work is carried out with the utmost confidentiality, always in line with our fundamental principles and the IFRC’s migration policy.
Assistance and protection of the most vulnerable migrants in West Africa
Kolda is just one example of the more than 600 Humanitarian Service Points run by National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies along the world’s main migration routes. They are neutral spaces that provide a welcoming and safe environment for migrants to access essential services, regardless of their status and without fear of being detained or reported to the authorities.
Since the launch of the Kolda HSP en 2020, wich includes other small posts in Tanaff, Salikégné, Diaobé and Pata, volunteers have welcomed and supported more than 1,500 migrants.
It was set up as part of the 'Assistance and protection of the most vulnerable migrants in West Africa' project. Funded by the European Union, the project covers different busy migratory routes through Burkina Faso, Gambia, Mali, Niger and Senegal. In addition to the National Societies of these countries, the project also involves the IFRC, Spanish Red Cross, Danish Red Cross and Luxembourg Red Cross.
For more information, visit our migration and displacement webpage to learn more about the IFRC’s migration policies, programmes and operations
| Press release
IFRC and IOM sign regional MoU to increase collaboration to support migrants and displaced people
Beirut / Cairo, 22 December 2022 -The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) have signed a regional Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to strengthen National Societies’ capacities and ensure coordinated action to protect and provide basic assistance services to migrants, including displaced people and communities in the MENA Region.
In 2020, there were 281 million international migrants and refugees in the world, out of which about 40 million were in the MENA region. In 2021, conflict and disasters triggered 1.2 million internal displacements in MENA, bringing the total of internal displacements in the region to 12.4 million.
Dr. Hossam Elsharkawi, IFRC MENA Regional Director said: “The IFRC has a long history of helping National Societies provide support and assistance to migrants and displaced people wherever they are along their journeys on land and at sea; our humanitarian service points offer services and protection”.
“We are joining forces with IOM to promote the safety, dignity, and well-being of migrants, irrespective of their legal status, especially those in fragile, protracted crises, violent and hard-to-reach settings,”added Dr Elsharkawi.
Mr. Othman Belbeisi, IOM MENA Regional Director, said: “IOM is pleased to announce this regional partnership with the IFRC which will enable us to strengthen our collaboration for the benefit of migrants, host communities, and partners.”
“Through our joint efforts, we look forward to enhancing migration governance working through a whole-of-society and whole-of-government approach in the spirit of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly, and Regular Migration and the Sustainable Development Goals,” added Mr Belbeisi.
The MoU is based on the Sustainable Development Goals, Global Protection Cluster (GP20), the Global Compact on Migration (GCM), and IOM framework for addressing internal displacement and its progressive resolutions of displacement framework. It aims to reinforce collaboration with governments and relevant stakeholders on human mobility governance at all levels by capitalizing on the IFRC Global Strategy on Migration as well as the MENA Red Cross/Red Crescent migration network.
The new partnership builds on previous cooperation between both organizations. Most recently in October 2022, IOM and IFRC organized a dialogue called “Strengthening the intergenerational Dialogue on Climate Action and the Impacts of Climate Change on human mobility” to discuss the climate change-mobility nexus, especially for young populations in the MENA region.
With climate change being an increasingly potent driver of migration, the collaboration between IOM and IFRC seeks to propose better solutions for evidence-based policy recommendations, in response to the climate crisis vis-a-vis migration trends in the region.
About the IFRC:
The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is the world’s largest humanitarian network. Our secretariat supports local Red Cross and Red Crescent action in more than 192 countries, bringing together almost 15 million volunteers for the good of humanity.
About the IOM:
Established in 1951, IOM is the leading intergovernmental organization in the field of migration and works closely with governmental, intergovernmental, and non-governmental partners. With 175 member states, a further 8 states holding observer status, and offices in over 100 countries, IOM is dedicated to promoting humane and orderly migration for the benefit of all. It does so by providing services and advice to governments and migrants.
For more information please contact:
In Beirut, IFRC Head of Communications, Mey Al Sayegh, [email protected]
In Cairo, Communication Officer at IOM MENA Regional Office, Tamim Elyan, [email protected]
| Press release
Survivors stranded at sea: SOS MEDITERRANEE and IFRC call for maritime law to be respected
The Ocean Viking – a search and rescue ship chartered by SOS MEDITERRANEE and operated in partnership with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) – rescued 234 women, children and men from six boats in distress in the central Mediterranean between October 22 and 26.
“People rescued in the central Mediterranean by ships should and must be allowed to disembark in a Place of Safety within reasonable time as is the case for search and rescue operations conducted by authorities and merchant ships. The ever-worsening blockages faced by rescue ships in this stretch of the sea since 2018 are discriminatory and unacceptable. Keeping survivors onboard ships hostages of political debate longer would be the result of a dramatic failure of European members and associated States,” says Xavier Lauth, SOS MEDITERRANEE Director of operations.
“The people rescued are absolutely exhausted, dehydrated, with psychological distress, and some requiring immediate medical attention. We provided health care, food, water, hygiene items, psychological first aid and opportunity to call and connect with family members. But they cannot afford to wait any longer, this uncertainty is making the situation unbearable with stress growing day by day. They urgently need a port of safety,” says Frido Herinckx, operations manager with IFRC.
People’s right to promptly disembark in a Place of Safety suffers no debate. The current blockage in the disembarkation of the search and rescue operations are grave and consequential breaches of maritime law. The international convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) frames Search and Rescue obligations to States and shipmasters in great detail, from the obligation to respond to and coordinate search for boats reported in distress, to the obligation to assign a “Place of Safety as soon as reasonably practicable”. All circumstances are considered, including the obligation for most able to assist States to cooperate in order to identify a place of safety for disembarkation; the obligation to provide assistance “regardless of the nationality or status of such persons” (Chapter V - Reg 33.1- amendment 2004), as well as the fact that “status assessment of rescued persons” should not “unduly delay disembarkation of survivors”. IMO RESOLUTION MSC.167(78) (adopted on 20 May 2004)
As per maritime conventions, the Ocean Viking informed relevant maritime authorities at all steps of the search and rescue operations and asked for the designation of a Place of Safety.
We must prioritize and cooperate in search and rescue operations for people on the move regardless of their status, including through clear, safe and predictable disembarkation mechanisms for rescued people.
SOS MEDITERRANEE and IFRC urge EU members and associated states to respect maritime law, cooperate in the designation of a Place of Safety for the survivors on Ocean Viking and put an end to the suffering of hundreds of men, women and children.
Global Route-Based Migration Programme
Our Global Route-Based Migration Programme aims to save lives and improve the safety and dignity of migrants, refugees, and other displaced people along dangerous and deadly migratory routes.
| Press release
Migration and displacement crisis in MENA: Responding to the basic needs of people on the move
Beirut, September 12, 2022 - The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, with more than 40 million migrants and 14 million internally displaced persons, has some of the world’s longest protracted conflicts, combined with frequent natural disasters, man-made crises, and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The Ukraine conflict has added another layer of complexity.
The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) has joined forces with three Red Crescent societies in the region to address the basic needs of people on the move, including refugees, migrants, and internally displaced persons.
Fabrizio Anzolini, the IFRC’s regional migration advisor for the MENA, said: “The Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement approaches migration and displacement from a purely humanitarian perspective, without encouraging or discouraging it. However, we do respond to the needs of people on the move.”
As part of IFRC’s efforts to support more than 4,000 people on the move, the IFRC has signed three project agreements on migration and displacement in the region since July.
The agreements with the Syrian Arab Red Crescent, the Egyptian Red Crescent, and the Algerian Red Crescent were established in the framework of the IFRC’s ‘Humanitarian assistance and protection for people on the move.
This three-year programme focuses on humanitarian assistance to migrants, displaced people, and host communities on the migration routes of greatest humanitarian concern spanning Africa, the Middle East, and Europe and involves 34 Red Cross Red Crescent National Societies.
The agreement with the Syrian Arab Red Crescent aims to improve the livelihoods of internally displaced persons, returnees, and host communities in Syria, while the agreement with the Algerian Red Crescent was developed to improve the living standards and reduce the vulnerability of migrants, refugees and displaced persons in Algeria.
The agreement with the Egyptian Red Crescent focuses on providing comprehensive and structured support to children on the move and the community by establishing community schools and ensuring access to basic humanitarian services.
“This example of collaboration and coordination with other Red Cross Red Crescent National Societies would not have been possible without the support of the Italian Red Cross, which played a crucial role in facilitating the establishment of these three agreements,” Anzolini added.
Rania Ahmed, IFRC’s deputy regional director in the MENA, said: “The IFRC's attempts to make a difference in the migration and displacement crises in the Middle East and North Africa are at a critical juncture. Until long-term sustainable solutions are in place, we ensure that people on the move have access to health services and psychosocial support, and offer protection to children and victims of violence, as well as livelihood support and cash assistance.”
Ahmed added that as the link between climate change and the displacement of the most vulnerable is becoming more obvious by the day, “IFRC is eager to bring this issue to the states’ attention during the upcoming COP 27 Conference in Sharm El Sheikh in Egypt”.
For more information, please contact
IFRC-MENA: Mey Al Sayegh, Head of Communications,
Mobile: +961 03229352,
E-mail: [email protected]
| Press release
Eight days waiting onboard Ocean Viking amid overwhelming medical needs: SOS MEDITERRANEE and IFRC call for 460 of survivors’ right to disembark
Marseille/Geneva/Budapest, 2 September 2022 - 460 women, children, babies and men are stuck in limbo waiting to disembark. Some with overwhelming medical needs have been stuck onboard eight days after being rescued on the deadly Central Mediterranean. SOS MEDITERRANEE and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) are calling for these survivors’ right to disembark in a Place of Safety without further delay.
Within just 60 hours, the Ocean Viking—a search and rescue ship chartered by SOS MEDITERRANEE in partnership with the IFRC — faced more distress cases than ever before. The crew found and rescued people from ten unseaworthy, overcrowded boats on the world’s deadliest sea migratory route since 2014, the Central Mediterranean. The search and rescue ship remains stranded at sea waiting for the survivors’ disembarkation.
The team is facing an overwhelming number of medical cases, including exhaustion, dehydration, and untreated skin infections and wounds. Other survivors are facing chronic medical conditions and two 9-month-pregnant women were evacuated.
“We have never experienced such level of severe medical cases on board Ocean Viking before. The survivors were found in the middle of high seas in unimaginable situations. In a desperate attempt to find safety, they were near to die at sea, either by drowning, or by dehydration. Per maritime law, their rescues will only be completed when they will have reached a Place of Safety. The current blockade for their disembarkation must find an end without further delay,” says Xavier Lauth, SOS MEDITERRANEE Director of Operations.
Every day that passes, the needs of those on board grow. Francesco Rocca, President of IFRC said:
“The sheer number of people rescued in such a short time with such severity of people’s conditions onboard only shows us that the situation is getting so much more desperate for those seeking safety and protection. We cannot continue to face this same challenge over and over again. We need longer term solutions – including a commitment for safe and regular pathways to protection and safety while also ensuring access to protection for those arriving spontaneously.”
SOS MEDITERRANEE and IFRC call on European members and associated States to show solidarity, observe maritime law and guarantee fundamental human rights. The wait and suffering of the 460 survivors onboard Ocean Viking must end immediately.
Note to editors:
The Ocean Viking rescued 466 women, children and men in ten rescue operations between August 25 and 27. Among the survivors are over 20 adult women, including several pregnant and over 80 minors, 75% of whom are unaccompanied.
On August 29, two 9-month-pregnant women had to be urgently medically evacuated. They were transferred onto an Italian Coast Guard patrol vessel with four of their relatives (two sisters and their two children, including a 3-week-old little girl).
Despite having contacted relevant maritime authorities at all steps of the search and rescue operations, the Ocean Viking was left alone, with no coordination nor information-sharing from relevant maritime authorities. Four of the unseaworthy and overcrowded boats in distress were spotted via binoculars from the bridge of the Ocean Viking. The distress alerts of the six other boats were relayed by civil NGOs such as the civil network Alarm Phone, the aircrafts of the NGOs Pilotes Volontaires and Sea-Watch, and the sailing vessels of the NGOs Open Arms and Resqship. The Ocean Viking informed relevant maritime authorities at all steps of the rescues and sent requests for the designation of a Place of Safety as soon as possible after each operation, as per maritime law.
Recently, a new shipwreck was reported by the International Organisation for Migration. Two bodies of deceased persons were retrieved by Libyan Coastguards and 19 people were reported missing by the six survivors of this tragedy on August 27, the same day Ocean Viking teams rescued 198 survivors from five boats in distress. Since 2014, almost 19,811 people are known to have perished in the central Mediterranean. That’s 80% of the deaths recorded in the whole Mediterranean Sea.
SOS MEDITERRANEE rescued 36,789 people since the beginning of its operations in 2016, with Aquarius and Ocean Viking. A total of 7,266 people were rescued by the Ocean Viking since she started operating in August 2019. Since September 2021, IFRC teams participated in ten patrols on Ocean Viking and helped rescue more than 2,700 people.
While the SOS MEDITERRANEE team focuses on search and rescue at sea, the IFRC team focuses on providing humanitarian post-rescue services, including medical care, first aid, psychosocial support, relief and protection.
For more information, please contact:
IFRC In Geneva: Jenelle Eli, +1 202 603 6803, [email protected]
IFRC in Budapest: Nora Peter, +36 70 265 4020, [email protected]
SOS MEDITERRANEE International & Operations: Laurence Bondard / +33 6 23 24 59 93 / [email protected]
| Press release
IFRC: 210,000 migrants need urgent life-saving assistance and protection in Central America and Mexico
Panama City, 1 August 2022 -The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is ramping up its response to provide urgent humanitarian assistance and protection to 210,000 people on the move by land northwards through Central America and Mexico.
Along migratory routes, many people suffer accidents and injuries, face extortion and sexual violence, or disappear and are separated from their families. Others are killed or die from disease or environmental conditions.
According to official data, since January 2022, there is a concerning increase in the number of migrants and refugees in Central America and Mexico compared to previous years. Irregular migration has increased an 85% in Panama, 689% in Honduras, and 108% in Mexico. If this upward trend continues in the coming months, an estimated 500,000people* would require humanitarian assistance.
Roger Alonso, IFRC Head of Disaster, Crises and Climate Unit, said:
“Local Red Cross teams, from Panama to Mexico, confirm that dramatic spike in the number of migrants moving northwards. We are especially concerned for women, children, the disabled, older people, and LGBTQI migrants. They are at extreme risk and need medical and mental health assistance, access to food and water, information, connectivity, and resources to cover vital expenses such as paying for safe places to sleep.”
Most of the migrants and refugees in transit through the region are from Cuba, Venezuela, and Haiti. Nationals from Honduras, Guatemala, Nicaragua, and Mexico also continue heading north. The main reasons for migrating include improving their income, escaping violence, reuniting with family members, and recovering from the impact of recurring disasters and extreme weather events.
In Panama, in June 2022 alone, 15,000 migrants crossed the perilous Darien Gap – 500 people per day. Out of every 100 of them, 16 are children. In Costa Rica, 441 persons a day entered from Panama in May 2022, an increase of 158% compared to April 2022. Nearly 24,000 Cubans arrived in Nicaragua from January to May 2022, while in El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Mexico there is a significant increase in the number of returnees.
In this challenging context, the IFRC has launched a 28 million CHF** Emergency Appeal to support 210,000 people on the move during the next 12 months. Red Cross Societies in Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Mexico will provide migrants, refugees, and returnees with health care, mental health support, access to water and sanitation services, and cash for them to cover essential needs, such as accommodation or food.
Martha Keays, IFRC Regional Director for the Americas, said:
It is unacceptable that migrating continues to cost people their dignity and their lives. This is why we are scaling up our current response and standing up our vital emergency support along migratory routes. We call on governments, our partners, and donors to join this humanitarian action. Protecting people migrating in a desperate situation and defending their rights, disregarding their status is a humanitarian imperative and a collective duty. The devastating socioeconomic effects in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the climate crisis, continuing political crises, and disasters will continue to ramp up exponentially population movements. The challenge ahead of us is titanic.”
The Red Cross’ response will prioritize attention along the routes where most migrants and displaced persons face bureaucratic barriers, hostile climates, stigma, discrimination, violence, insecurity, and even loss of life. The support will be provided through the Red Cross network of 20 Humanitarian Service Points*** in Central America and Mexico. These are neutral, safe spaces—whether fixed or mobile—where people on the move can access health care, psychosocial support, and information, among other services.
In Panama, for instance, the Humanitarian Service Point provides migrants crossing the Darien Gap with first aid, health care for pregnant women and children, psychosocial support, clean water, access to mobile phones, and information about the risks and services they may find along their journey. People who require specialized health support are referred to public services. With migration flows increasingin the region, this model will continue to save lives and reduce suffering.
The IFRC and its network will also work with origin, transit, and host communities to address environmental-, climate-, and livelihood-related issues that may trigger population movements.
For more information or to arrange an interview:
In Panama: Susana Arroyo Barrantes, [email protected]
In Panama: Maria Langman, [email protected],+507 6550 1090
In Geneva: Jenelle Eli, [email protected],+1 202 603 6803
*The 500,000 people possibly affected have been estimated taking into account irregular crossing entries and reports from July to December 2021, considering a 45% increase scenario (most countries are above 100% increase ) and at least one aggregate of 173,176 from January to June 2022.
***Six in Guatemala, eight in Mexico, five in Honduras and one in Panama.
| Press release
Red Cross and Red Crescent leaders commit to accelerate efforts to tackle rising humanitarian challenges
Geneva, 23 June 2022 - The Council of delegates of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement concluded today in Geneva with commitments from Red Cross and Red Crescent leaders and youth representatives from around the world, to work together and scale-up efforts to take urgent action on a range of critical humanitarian issues.
Representatives of 192 National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) passed a series of resolutions to address a range of humanitarian challenges, including; the growing existential threats posed by the climate crisis; the escalating migration crisis; the devastating impacts of war in cities and the need to continue efforts to work towards the elimination of nuclear weapons.
"Urban warfare has a devastating humanitarian impact, including the appallingly high number of civilian deaths, the physical and mental suffering, the destruction of homes and critical civilian infrastructure, the disruption to essential services and the widespread displacement of people. We have seen that sad reality playing out in Libya, Syria, Ukraine and elsewhere. The Red Cross and Red Crescent must mobilise all its influence and resources to meet the challenges that lie ahead,’ said ICRC President Peter Maurer. ‘To be clear: the consequences of urban conflicts are not inevitable. They are the result of the behaviour of the parties fighting in these environments and we call for international humanitarian law to be upheld as an urgent priority’.
IFRC President Francesco Rocca said: “How we work to tackle and mitigate against the impacts of climate change will define our work, not just for the next few years, but for decades to come.
“All over the world, our volunteers and staff are working with people in their communities to help them adapt to the climate crisis and, frankly, they are demonstrating greater readiness, eagerness, and leadership than the majority of our global political leaders. We need action from them, not more words. And now.
“The same goes for the international migrant crisis. The Red Cross Red Crescent Movement speaks of leaving no person behind, of solidarity, and humanity. But, all over the world, we see world leaders failing to take the plight of migrants seriously enough and too easily prepared to neglect the human rights of those fleeing conflict, hunger, persecution, and, of course, those parts of the world where climate change has already done untold damage to their communities.”
Francesco Rocca, IFRC President, was re-elected to serve a second four-year term in office at the IFRC’s General Assembly on 19 June.
For more information on resolutions adopted at the Council of delegates is available here
For other information and interview requests, contact:
IFRC: Benoit Carpentier, Tel: +41 792 132 413 Email: [email protected] Paul Scott -+44 (0)7834 525650 email: [email protected]
ICRC ICRC: Ewan Watson - m. +41 (0)79 244 6470 email: [email protected] ICRC: Crystal Wells - m. +41 (0)79 642 8056 email: [email protected]
For further information about the statutory meetings please visit rcrcconference.org
| Press release
Americas: IFRC launches regional plan to provide 2.2 million migrants and displaced people with humanitarian assistance and protection
Panama City, 23 May 2022 – The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) launched today a four-year plan to extend its assistance and protection to migrants and displaced people along the migratory routes of greatest complexity, risk and humanitarian concern in Latin America and the Caribbean.
This new plan brings together Red Cross Societies in 22* countries across the Americas that will work with the IFRC to support over 2.2 million people in Central America, the Caribbean and the Andean and Southern Cone regionsbetween 2022 and 2025. The Red Cross network will continue to focus its response on women, children, the elderly, the disabled and LGBTQI migrants regardless of their legal status. This plan will also support returnees and host communities.
Martha Keays, IFRC Regional Director for the Americas, said:
“In recent years, we have supported people on the move all across the Americas, and we have witnessed the marks left by migration and displacement on the bodies, minds, and lives of millions of people. The response to their needs, which continue to be unmet despite the efforts of multiple stakeholders, must be agile, effective, innovative, and, above all, humane and dignified. This is what the Red Cross does, all while prioritizing attention along the routes where migrants and displaced persons face bureaucratic barriers, hostile climates, stigma, discrimination, violence, insecurity, and even loss of life.”
At the core of IFRC’s route-based approach is its network of Humanitarian Service Points.These are neutral, safe spaces—whether fixed or mobile—where the Red Cross provides health care, psychosocial support, and information, among other services. With migration flows increasing due to the socio-economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, the climate crisis, continuing political crises, disasters, and pre-existing inequalities and vulnerabilities in the region, this model continues to save lives and reduce suffering along migratory pathways.
The main areas of intervention include providing first aid, primary health, nutrition, water and sanitation services, and implementing cash and voucher assistance for health, food, rent and other essential needs. Campaigning for inclusion and against xenophobia, establishing safe referral systems for migrants and victims, and improving the information management supporting migrant needs and migratory flows will also be priority activities.
The plan aims to improve the preparedness system in cross-border areas, promote educational services in host communities, increase participatory processes at local levels and foster livelihoods through capacities development in sync with market needs.
The IFRC is appealing for 99.7 million Swiss francs (USD 100.99 million) to implement this four-year plan that will complement the millions of humanitarian services the organization has provided for migrants in the Americas since 2018.
The American continent is home to nearly 73 million migrants and displaced persons from different origins and backgrounds. In 2021 in Panama alone, migrants from more than 40 countries crossed the perilous Darién Gap. They arrived mainly from Haiti, Cuba, Chile, Brazil and Venezuela, from where more than six million people have left since 2017. Others came from Asian and African nations such as Angola, Burkina Faso, Mauritania, Nigeria, Pakistan and Uzbekistan.
*IFRC's 2022-2025 plan on migration and displacement will be implemented inGuatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Costa RicaPanama, Argentina,Brazil, Chile, Uruguay, Colombia, Ecuador, Perú, Venezuela,Haiti,DominicanRepublic, Cuba, Guayana, Jamaica,Suriname,Belizeand Trinidad & Tobago.
For more information and to set up interviews, contact:
In Latin America and the Caribbean:
Susana Arroyo Barrantes [email protected] +507 69993199
Anna Tuson [email protected] +41 79 8956924
IFRC scales up cash assistance to people impacted by conflict in Ukraine
Three months into the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) has distributed financial assistance totalling more than 4.3 million Swiss francs to thousands of people on the move.
IFRC Head of Emergency Operations for the Ukraine response, Anne Katherine Moore, said:
“The longer the conflict continues, the greater the needs become. The cost of basic necessities, such as fresh fruit and vegetables, is rising. Increases in the cost of fuel and apartment rentals are also being reported. Millions of people have lost their jobs and their savings are dwindling. Through a new mobile app, we have been able to ramp up our support to help people facing these financial challenges.”
The new technology makes it possible for the IFRC and responding National Societies to reach people at scale and to deliver cash assistance digitally. Successfully introduced in Romania, the mobile app allows refugees to self-register for assistance online, negating the need and cost involved of having to travel to a central location.
The app will soon be expanded to Poland and Slovakia, where cash assistance is already being provided through more traditional methods such as in-person registration, as well as Ukraine and other neighbouring countries.
“This is the fastest we have ever delivered cash at this scale. It has the potential to be a game-changer for our work not just in this response, but also in future operations,” Moore continued.
Cash assistance is a dignified and efficient way to support people impacted by the conflict, allowing them to purchase items specific to their individual needs, while also supporting local economies. It is one part of our integrated and wide-ranging Red Cross and Red Crescent response to the conflict that also includes the provision of health care, first aid, psychosocial support and the distribution of basic household necessities.
Speaking about next steps, Moore said: “There is no short-term solution to the needs of the more than 14 million people who have been forced to flee their homes. We know that even if the conflict was to end tomorrow, rebuilding and recovery will take years. People have lost their homes, their livelihoods, and access to timely healthcare. The IFRC, in support of local National Red Cross Societies in the region, will be there helping people now, and in the months and years to come.”
Watch: our response 3 months on
During the past three months:
Together, we have reached more than 2.1million people with life-saving aid within Ukraine and in surrounding countries. This is 1 in 10 people who had to flee their homes because of the conflict.
Along the travel routes within and outside Ukraine, we've set up 142 Humanitarian Service Points in 15 countries to provide those fleeing with a safe environment. There, they receive essential services like food, hygiene items, blankets, clothing water, first aid, psychosocial support, information, and financial assistance.
In total, we distributed 2.3 million kilograms of aid.
71,000 Red Cross and Red Crescent volunteers are responding to the crisis.
| Press release
IFRC president: Ethnicity and nationality should not be deciding factors in saving lives
New York / Geneva, 16 May 2022 – President of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) Francesco Rocca calls on states to step up to their responsibility to save lives, no matter where people are from, ahead of the first review of the Global Compact for Migration (GCM).
Mr Rocca says: “When I was in Marrakech for the adoption of the GCM I made a statement that the world’s approach to migration is painfully broken – but that the GCM can fix it. As we begin the first review of the progress made since then, I am sad to say that this has not been the case so far. Not enough changes to policies and practices to ensure safe and dignified migration have taken place, and many more lives have been lost due to that failure to act.”
On the world’s deadliest sea migration route, the central Mediterranean, the number of deaths has in fact increased since the GCM was signed. The Ocean Viking ship, operated by SOS Mediterranée with IFRC providing humanitarian services on board, saves people in distress on this route.
“We need to carry out this work as state-coordinated search and rescue is absent in the area,” says Mr Rocca. “Our teams have already saved 1,260 people in the nine months we’ve been operating.”
The Ocean Viking is one of the 330 Humanitarian Service Points (HSPs) in 45 countries that supports the ambitions of the GCM, providing assistance and protection to people on the move irrespective of status and without fear of reprisal. The Romanian Red Cross implements HSPs in Bucharest to support people fleeing Ukraine, providing information, food, water, hygiene items and financial assistance, while the Hungarian Red Cross has been operating a HSP at the Keleti railway station 24/7 to welcome people arriving from Ukraine by train with information, food, hygiene items and baby care products.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Colombian Red Cross Society has implemented HSPs at the border with Venezuela, offering essential services like healthcare, while Libyan Red Crescent volunteers have provided support to migrants and displaced people, operating HSPs that provided access to information, food, and other necessities, as well as restoring family links services.
At the International Migration Review Forum (IMRF), the IFRC is calling for individual and collective efforts on search and rescue; ensuring access to essential services for migrants regardless of status; scaling up support to people affected of climate related displacement; and the inclusion of migrants in all aspects of society and decision making.
“The political, public and humanitarian response to the Ukraine crisis has shown what is possible when humanity and dignity comes first, when there is global solidarity and the will to assist and protect the most vulnerable,” says Mr Rocca. “This must be extended to everyone in need, wherever they come from. Ethnicity and nationality should not be deciding factors in saving lives.”
Listen to the recording of Francesco Rocca's press briefing at the UN in New York.
To schedule an interview or for further information:
In New York: Tommaso Della Longa, +41 79 708 4367, [email protected]
In Geneva: Anna Tuson, +41 79 895 6924, [email protected]
| Press release
Red Cross extends support to families separated by violence and conflict
Budapest/Geneva, 13 May 2022 – Ahead of the International Day of Families on 15 May, the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement is expanding its family reunification services with a new initiative.
The Reunification Pathways for Integration (REPAIR) project is co-funded by the European Union’s Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF), and enables safe and legal family reunification in the EU by assisting beneficiaries of international protection and their family members before, during and after arrival.
The three-year project is led by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) in partnership with the Austrian, British, French and Slovenian Red Cross and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).
National Red Cross Societies in these four countries are scaling up their support by offering a range of services including counselling, visa application support, socio-cultural orientation sessions, psychosocial support and language classes. They also provide integration support to help family members reconnect after a long period of separation.
Building on the Red Cross Red Crescent Movement's longstanding work with migrants and refugees, the project aims to improve and expand the current service provision through the development of new tools and approaches, also to be shared with key stakeholders. Activities in the programme will contribute to the improvement of the Family Reunification journey for affected communities and a strengthened network of agencies in Europe and beyond.
IFRC Europe Regional Director, Birgitte Ebbesen, said the right to family life must be respected, regardless of where people come from:
“Whether from Ukraine, Syria, Afghanistan or Somalia, people who flee violence and persecution often become separated from their family members, which can have devastating consequences on their wellbeing. Without their loved ones, they are not able to resume normal lives. Family reunification is essential to realizing the right to family life in Europe and key for long-term integration in receiving communities.”
The project is built on Restoring Family Links (RFL), a key mandate of the Red Cross Red Crescent Movement to deliver activities that aim to prevent separation and disappearance, look for missing persons, restore and maintain contact between family members, and clarify the fate of persons reported missing.
Family reunification is one of the safe and legal routes to protection to Europe, yet families face many challenges due to the complex legal framework and practical obstacles. Bringing together beneficiaries of international protection and their relatives often turns into a lengthy and unsafe process.
The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement is calling for a more holistic, protection-oriented approach that is safe, inclusive and provides the necessary support to families at every step of the way. Preparing local authorities and host communities for the arrivals should also be an integral part of the action.
“A fair and swift family reunification process ensures dignity and helps prevent desperate families from taking dangerous journeys to join their loved ones, often resulting in tragic deaths and people going missing en route. We are not just helping people, we are saving lives,” Ms. Ebbesen added.
For more information, please contact:
In Budapest: Nora Peter, +36 70 265 4020, [email protected]
| Press release
Americas: IFRC urges governments to save migrants' lives at High Level Regional Meeting on Migration
There are nearly 73.5 million migrants across the American continent - over a quarter of the migrants worldwide - and we continue to see unprecedented migration flows in the region. In 2020 alone, approximately 4.7 million people were displaced on the continent due to disasters - the highest level seen in 10 years. In Panama, just last year, some 134,000 people crossed through the perilous Darien Gap – over 22,000 of whom were children.
Within the framework of the High-level Meeting on Migration called by the Panamanian authorities on April 20, 2022, IFRC Regional Director for the Americas, Martha Keays, said:
''States, humanitarian organizations, international agencies and civil society in the Americas face an enormous challenge: protect the dignity and address the humanitarian needs of the most vulnerable and marginalized migrants who continue to face trafficking, discrimination, violence, and limited access to essential services and protection mechanisms.
The IFRC and its membership, the Red Cross National Societies of the continent, as auxiliaries to the public authorities, call upon the governments of all countries across the Americas to facilitate the work of the Red Cross to address the needs of migrants and people on the move in the Americas, irrespective of status, in keeping with our mandate as the world’s largest humanitarian network.
Over the past few years, thousands of Red Cross volunteers have provided millions of migrants in 17 countries across the Americas with essential services, including emergency and maternal healthcare, psychosocial support, water, hygiene and sanitation, access to information, and COVID-19 prevention and treatment.
However, our experience and local reach tell us that the work is not over and there is still a titanic challenge ahead of us. Push factors such as the devastating socioeconomic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, the climate crisis, continuing political crises, and disasters such as the recent hurricanes Eta and Iota and the earthquake in Haiti, all have increased and will continue to increase population movements while exacerbating existing vulnerabilities.
''We urge governments to save lives, ensure access for migrants to essential services, scale up support to persons at risk of displacement related to disasters and the climate crisis, and include migrants and refugees in all aspects of society. It is a humanitarian imperative and a shared regional responsibility to ensure that no one is left behind.”
Kuwaiti Red Crescent and Egyptian Red Crescent support people fleeing Ukraine
Since the onset of the conflict in Ukraine, Kuwait Red Crescent Society and Egyptian Red Crescent Society teams have rushed to provide humanitarian relief to the neighbouring countries of Ukraine. The Kuwaiti Red Crescent has provided food, medical aid, and necessary supplies to fleeing people affected by the conflict. While the Egyptian Red Crescent has assisted and evacuated Egyptians from Poland and Romania, and provided humanitarian support to others affected alike, including Arabic-speaking people.
Dr. Hilal Al Sayer, President of the Kuwait Red Crescent Society (KRCS) said after meeting his Polish counterpart, Jery Bisek: “Kuwaiti aid includes medicines, medical supplies, food, milk for children and other necessities, and it reflects the Kuwaiti leadership and people’s solidarity with affected people living under such difficult circumstances.”
Al-Sayer affirmed his country’s keenness to participate in humanitarian relief in all parts of the world, in line with the Kuwaiti humanitarian obligations. He stressed the need to further explore all ways to enhance cooperation and joint coordination to help alleviate the suffering of refugees from Ukraine, with partner organizations in the humanitarian field and with the Polish Red Cross.
In turn, the President of the Polish Red Cross expressed his appreciation and gratitude after a Kuwaiti military aid plane loaded with relief materials and medical aid, estimated at 33.5 tons, arrived at Warsaw Airport in Poland.
Bisek said: “The Kuwaiti Red Crescent is one of the first National Society responders that stepped in to provide the necessary support and assistance for those fleeing Ukraine”, adding that "the needs are still massive".
In parallel, the Egyptian Red Crescent Society continues to provide aid and support to the Egyptian students and families it helped evacuate safely home after they had fled to Poland and Romania.
Volunteers have worked tirelessly to ensure transportation for Egyptians fleeing from Ukraine across the borders of Poland and Romania to the airport. They also provided them with free hotel accommodation and food, travel documents, cash assistance, medical services, and psychological support.
Students and their families expressed deep gratitude to the Egyptian Red Crescent Society for standing by their side in this ordeal, meeting their needs, and ensuring their safe return to their home country.
The Egyptian Red Crescent Society, in collaboration with Polish and Romanian Red Cross Societies, has also established two relief centres at the Ukrainian-Romanian and Ukrainian-Polish borders to provide aid to Egyptians, Arabic speakers and others fleeing the conflict in Ukraine, especially women and children.
The Egyptian Red Crescent Society also published a slogan on its Facebook page “Safety and Relief Without Discrimination’.
Prior to the conflict, 6000 Egyptians lived in Ukraine, 3,000 of whom are students enrolled in the country’s universities.
| Press release
Ukraine: Millions at risk as health concerns exacerbate vulnerabilities
Budapest/Geneva, 10 March 2022 – As the conflict continues in Ukraine and a cold front descends, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) warns of the dire health - including the spread of COVID-19 - and mental health consequences for millions of people both inside and outside of the country.
The fighting in Ukraine has continued for two weeks and no one has been left unscathed. An estimated 18 million people – a third of the country’s population – will need humanitarian assistance, and more than 2.3 million people have fled to neighbouring countries. As the lives of millions are being upended, there is a real concern of diseases spreading, pre-existing health conditions worsening and mental health concerns increasing.
“Many of the people affected were already vulnerable before the conflict and now face an even harsher situation as they are losing their homes and their livelihoods, being forced to seek shelter wherever they can or fleeing their country in search of safety. They urgently need food, water and shelter, but also emergency medical care, protective measures and psychosocial support to avert an even greater humanitarian catastrophe,” said Birgitte Bischoff Ebbesen, IFRC Regional Director for Europe.
At the Przemyśl railway station in Poland, a woman was crying and being comforted by a volunteer from the Polish Red Cross. When asked what had happened, she answered that she had spent the whole night and day waiting for the train from Ukraine that would bring her daughter to safety. The train had finally arrived, but her daughter had not.
People fleeing conflict often experience highly distressing situations, loss and trauma, which may impact their mental health and ability to cope. Psychosocial support will be needed in the days, weeks, and months to come.
In conflict settings, public health measures to prevent diseases from spreading become extremely challenging. People are forced to shelter in crowded spaces with limited sanitary conditions or access to basic health services, which increases the risk of infectious disease outbreaks, such as tuberculosis and diarrheal diseases. The spread of COVID-19 is a particular concern as the vaccination rate in Ukraine is among the lowest in Europe with only one-third of the population having received the first dose. Ukraine also has one of the highest rates of multidrug resistant tuberculosis in the world.
Adding to what is already a desperate situation, temperatures are dropping below freezing. There is an urgent need for warm clothing and adequate shelter to shield people in temporary locations and those who are queuing at the borders from the elements, the majority of whom are women, children and older people.
“Our Red Cross and Red Crescent teams in Ukraine and neighbouring countries are doing their utmost to support anyone in need, in particular those who are most at-risk including unaccompanied minors, single parent households, older people, and people with disabilities. They have the full support of IFRC and our global network, but more funding is desperately needed as millions of lives are at stake. Even if the armed conflict was to end tomorrow, the humanitarian consequences will be felt for years to come,” said Bischoff Ebbesen.
Notes to editors
In Ukraine, Red Cross teams are providing first aid and first aid training, helping in reception centres and to transport people to safety, and distributing relief items, including warm clothes. Despite the mortal danger they themselves are under, 3,000 new local volunteers have stepped up to support their neighbours.
In Hungary, Red Cross teams are operating three health service points at the border. They are also running reception and collection centres where they are welcoming people crossing from Ukraine and distributing relief goods.
In Poland, where 60 per cent (more than a million) of people from Ukraine are fleeing, the Polish Red Cross has activated more than 20 rescue teams, including approximately 450 medics, who are providing round-the-clock health care and psychosocial support at five of the eight border points as well as in major cities.
In Moldova, volunteers and staff from Moldova Red Cross have provided support to approximately 200,000 people who have crossed over from Ukraine. They are at all border crossing points offering hot tea, warm food, diapers, and personal protective equipment including face masks and sanitizer. Volunteers are also helping at reception centres, assisting with food preparation and playing with children.
In Russia, Red Cross teams have delivered 187 tonnes of aid including clothing, hygiene kits, baby products and household items. They are providing psychosocial support, have opened a mental health support hotline and, to date, have provided 756 consultations. More than 160 calls have come in to the restoring family links hotline.
In Romania, volunteers and staff from the local Red Cross are at various border crossings distributing food items, water, basic necessities, hygiene products, and thousands of SIM cards to people in need. The Red Cross is helping local authorities in equipping reception centres with tents, bedding, food and hygiene and baby items. Volunteers are also visiting placement centres, playing with children and helping local staff to prepare food and other necessary support.
In Slovakia the Red Cross is at all three of the country’s border crossings, where teams are providing services such as warming shelters, referrals to essential services, and first aid. As people are quickly moving on from the border area, the Red Cross is quickly scaling up support along the routes. This support includes psychosocial support and providing child-friendly spaces; social services, particularly referrals for services such as education, healthcare and registration for legal status; providing first aid, health assessments, referrals to clinical care and COVID-19 testing.
For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact:
In Budapest: Kathy Mueller, [email protected], +1 226 376 4013
In Budapest: Nora Peter, [email protected], +36 70 953 7709
In Geneva: Caroline Haga, +358 50 598 0500, [email protected]
Read more about the IFRC's emergency appeal for Ukraine and impacted countries.
Photos and videos:
Ukraine - Romania - Hungary - Croatia - Poland - Slovakia - Russia - Moldova - IFRC Newsroom
Act now to save lives and prevent migrants from going missing
Thousands of migrants go missing or die each year along migration routes. In 2018, United Nations Member States committed to “save lives and establish coordinated international efforts on missing migrants” by adopting the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (GCM). Four years and more than 15,000 documented deaths later, efforts to provide a meaningful response to this ongoing human tragedy cannot be put off any further.
As heads of the United Nations Network on Migration’s Executive Committee, the International Committee of the Red Cross, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and the International Commission on Missing Persons, we call on States to urgently assume collective responsibility to save lives and prevent migrants from going missing or dying along migration routes and to search for and identify those who have gone missing and to assist their families. This is in line with the GCM, including Objectives 8 (save lives), 5 (regular pathways), 7 (reduce vulnerabilities in migration), and 23 (strengthen international cooperation) and with relevant obligations under international law.
With migration policies becoming ever more restrictive and as safe and regular migration pathways remain out of reach for so many, including in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, many people seeking family reunification, decent work, dignity, better opportunities or who are compelled to leave owing to disasters and precarious situations have few options other than irregular migration along riskier routes and are often forced to rely on smugglers to facilitate the passage. The consequences are acutely visible: from the Mediterranean Sea, the Atlantic Ocean, and the Andaman Sea, to the Sahara Desert, and along migration corridors in the Americas, the death or disappearance of migrants has become all too frequent.
Over the past eight years, more than 47,000 people have died along these and other routes around the world. Many more deaths go unrecorded. This figure does not include the thousands of migrants who go missing each year because they are unable to establish contact with their families -- whether victims of enforced disappearance, detained or stranded, hiding for fear of arrest or deportation, unaccompanied and separated children or those who have been severely injured.
When people go missing along migration routes, their families often face devastating socio-economic, psychological, administrative, and legal consequences. The disappearance of a relative is not only cause for anguish, but it may affect access to property, inheritance, parental or social welfare rights.
Addressing these dynamics is the responsibility of all countries -- of origin, transit and destination – and requires multi-stakeholder efforts, involving both local and national actors, and in which the voices of migrants and engagement of affected families remain central.
We are also particularly alarmed about the growing trend of criminalizing or obstructing efforts to provide life-saving humanitarian assistance, including search and rescue efforts and medical care to migrants in need, which runs contrary to the commitment expressed in Objective 8 of the GCM.
We call on States to respect obligations under international law, including human rights law, upholding the right to life and right to health for all individuals, irrespective of nationality, ethnic or social origin, gender, migration status or other grounds, the right to family life, the best interests of children, and the absolute prohibition of enforced disappearance or arbitrary detention, amongst others.
Ahead of the first International Migration Review Forum (IMRF) to be held from 17-20 May 2022 to review progress made in implementing the GCM, we also call on States to:
Prevent migrants from dying or going missing by:
Prioritizing and cooperating in search and rescue operations to render assistance to migrants regardless of their migration status, including through clear and predictable disembarkation mechanisms that ensure that survivors are delivered to a place of safety and that all children receive adequate non-custodial care and reception;
Supporting the efforts of humanitarian organizations and crews of commercial vessels, where appropriate, to provide lifesaving assistance, healthcare and protection to migrants at land and at sea, and refraining from criminalizing, obstructing or otherwise deterring the efforts of those who provide such assistance;
Assessing the impact of migration-related laws, policies and practices on a regular basis and revising those, as necessary, to ensure that they are in line with international legal obligations and do not create or exacerbate the risk of migrants dying or going missing;
Enabling migrants and their families to establish, restore, or maintain contact along migratory routes and at destination;
Creating and strengthening possibilities for safe and regular migration in a manner that upholds the right to family life and responds to the needs of migrants in a situation of vulnerability as well as practices for admission and stay based on compassionate, humanitarian or other considerations for migrants compelled to leave their countries of origin.
Search and identify those who have died or gone missing by:
Setting up transnational mechanisms to allow for information exchange and coordinated efforts across countries of origin, transit and destination to search for and identify those who have died or gone missing, in cooperation with relevant stakeholders, including the families of the missing, while respecting the right to safety, privacy and data-protection standards;
Regularly collecting and making data on migrant deaths and missing migrants publicly available in accordance with the right to privacy and data protection.
Provide support and redress to the families of those who have died or gone missing by:
Providing avenues through which families can register cases of missing persons and obtain information on search efforts, while respecting the right to privacy and protecting personal data;
Ensuring that families of missing migrants in countries of origin, transit and destination are able to exercise their rights and access services and other support to meet their specific needs;
Ensuring access to justice, accountability and redress for migrants and their families by carrying out independent, impartial and thorough investigations into all allegations where migrants’ lives or safety were endangered in the course of their journey and where they were subjected to violations of their rights, whether by State or non-State actors, including as a result of aggravated smuggling or trafficking;
Establishing procedures for the dignified recovery, identification, transfer and burial of the remains of deceased migrants, and appropriately notifying and assisting their families in this regard.
While there is much more to be done, there is a growing body of practice, knowledge and guidance that can inform coordinated efforts to translate commitments under international law and the GCM Objectives into reality. International, regional and sub-regional bodies can play an important role in facilitating these efforts, together with local actors and communities.
Ahead of the IMRF, we call on States to make concrete commitments and pledges to action, to mobilize efforts to save lives and prevent migrants from going missing.
Our organizations stand ready to support States to implement these commitments to ensure that humanitarian principles and the human rights of migrants and their families remain at the center of all actions.
António Vitorino, Director-General of the IOM and Coordinator of the UN Network on Migration
Guy Ryder, Director-General of ILO Michelle Bachelet, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights
Liu Zhenmin, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs
Achim Steiner, UNDP Administrator Filippo Grandi, UN High Commissioner for Refugees
Catherine M. Russell, Executive Director of UNICEF
Ghada Fathi Waly, Executive Director of UNODC
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of WHO
Peter Maurer, President of the ICRC
Francesco Rocca, President of the IFRC
Kathryne Bomberger, Director-General of ICMP
The United Nations Network on Migration was established to ensure effective, timely and coordinated system-wide support to Member States in their implementation, follow up and review of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration. While the Network’s mandate is focused on the GCM, States are called to also implement these recommendations as relevant to refugees and to protect the human rights of everyone equally, regardless of migration status.
For more information and media requests, please contact: Florence Kim, at the UN Network on Migration secretariat: [email protected]; +41 79 748 03 95.
Learn more about the IFRC's work supporting people on the move. And click here to read our policy brief on the GCM.
| Press release
Survivors on rescue ship Ocean Viking urgently need to disembark in a place of safety
Marseille/Geneva/Budapest, 18 February 2022 – Since Monday, 14 February, the Ocean Viking has been waiting with 247 rescued people on board to be assigned a place of safety. Despite 5 requests to the relevant maritime authorities, the ship has yet to receive instructions on where to disembark those rescued at sea as rough weather has taken a toll on the health of the survivors on board.
The 247 people were rescued from distress at sea in five separate operations in less than 36 hours last weekend and earlier this week by the Ocean Viking, a rescue ship chartered by European search and rescue organisation SOS MEDITERRANEE and operated in partnership with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).
Michele Angioni, Search and Rescue Coordinator for SOS MEDITERRANEE on the Ocean Viking, says: “We have performed five rescues in less than 36 hours several days ago in the Maltese and Libyan search and rescue regions and received no coordination from maritime authorities, despite numerous emails and calls. After this intense weekend, we went through a storm with waves up to 4 meters and winds up to 30 knots.”
Among the 247 rescued people are 53 unaccompanied minors as well as a 5-month-old baby. Some of the survivors show signs of torture, like 19-year-old Amath* from Senegal, who left for Libya with his brother when he was only 9 years old. Amath told the crew that he left Senegal ten years ago to find work in Libya. There he was jailed ten times, beaten often by guards or police – having scars all over his back. He also said that he was shot in the leg while trying to escape.
“After the rescues and once recovered onboard the Ocean Viking, we treated cases of fuel inhalation, fuel burns and skin infections,” says Johanna Jonsdottir, IFRC nurse.
“Since then, survivors have suffered from seasickness and consequent dehydration, headaches and stomach-ache. We see that the psychological condition of people is worsening because of the standoff. Some survivors have old wounds, such as burns, twisted ankles, gunshots and suffer from back pain after being beaten,” adds Eila Rooseli, IFRC medical doctor.
Many of the rescued people have explained to teams on board that for them, the only way to escape Libya was to attempt the perilous crossing of the central Mediterranean in an unseaworthy dinghy, even though they knew of the risks.
However, according to maritime law, a rescue is only formally completed once the survivors are disembarked in a place where their lives are no longer threatened and their basic needs met. Too often, survivors have to spend extended periods of time on rescue ships before being allowed to disembark.
“The lack of SAR coordination and of a predictable disembarkation mechanism has been putting the lives and health of survivors at risk for several years. This can no longer be the norm. A ship is not a sustainable place for survivors to remain on. We need a Place of Safety for men, women and children to disembark without further delay,” Search and Rescue coordinator Michele Angioni adds.
*Name has been changed to protect the individual's privacy
For more information, contact:
In Geneva: Anna Tuson, [email protected], +41 79 895 6924
In Budapest: Hannu-Pekka Laiho, [email protected], +358 40 5257126
In Budapest: Nora Peter, [email protected], +36 70 953 7709
From SOS MEDITERRANEE:
International & Germany: Julia Schaefermeyer / +33 6 12 52 15 69 / [email protected]
France: Morgane Lescot / + 33 6 11 74 10 11 / [email protected]
Italy: Francesco Creazzo / +39 347 815 1131 / [email protected]
Switzerland: Eva Ostendarp / +41 79 239 99 13 / [email protected] (German) and Elliot Guy / +41 782 38 74 04 / [email protected]
| Press release
Ocean Viking rescues 247 people within 48 hours from the Mediterranean Sea, including 5-month-old baby
Budapest/Geneva, 14 February 2022 – Search and rescue (SAR) ship Ocean Viking had an extremely intense weekend, with the crew having saved 247 people in five rescues in less than 48 hours. The ship is operated by European maritime search and rescue organisation SOS MEDITERRANEE in partnership with the International Federation of Red Cross Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).
Survivors are now being cared for onboard, having received food, dry clothes and blankets. The medical team provided first aid and psychosocial support, treating cases of mild hypothermia, fuel inhalation and fuel burns. Some people also show signs of torture.
Among the 247 survivors, there are 52 unaccompanied minors and a 5-month-old baby. The survivors represent 16 different nationalities, with most people coming from Egypt, Bangladesh, Syria, Ethiopia, Tunisia and Ivory Coast.
The first rescue operation started on Saturday, 12 February, three days after Ocean Viking had left the port of Trapani, Sicily. An alert was sent for an overcrowded wooden boat in distress in the Maltese search and rescue region. The rescue team of SOS MEDITERRANEE found 93 people in an overcrowded wooden boat without lifejackets and brought them to safety to Ocean Viking.
The second rescue took place during the night of 12 February, again a wooden boat in distress, in the Libyan search and rescue region. 88 people were rescued. The boat was highly overcrowded, very unstable, the people had no lifejackets and had suffered from fuel inhalation.
The third rescue happened on Sunday morning, 13 February, a small wooden boat with 22 people were in distress in the Maltese search and rescue region. The boat was at high risk of taking in water.
The fourth rescue started soon after the third one. Ocean Viking received a VHF call from the aircraft of the NGO Pilotes Volontaires about a boat requiring urgent help and about to take water in. The rescue of 25 people was completed in one hour.
The fifth rescue took place a day later, on 14 February, in international waters inside the Libyan SAR region. 19 people were safely recovered from a fiberglass boat in distress among 1-meter waves.
Since IFRC entered in partnership with SOS MEDITERRANEE in August 2021, the Ocean Viking rescued 804 people in distress in the Mediterranean Sea.
This life-saving mission is an integral part of the Red Cross Red Crescent presence to protect and assist people in countries of origin, transit and destination across Africa, Middle East and Europe. As a neutral, independent and impartial humanitarian organization, IFRC’s global network provides critical humanitarian assistance to all persons in need, regardless of their legal status.
For more information, please contact:
In Budapest: Hannu-Pekka Laiho, [email protected], +358 40 5257126
In Budapest: Nora Peter, [email protected], +36 70 265 4020
| Press release
Migrants across the world must have access to life-saving assistance and protection
Geneva, 17 December 2021 – In a year marked by exacerbated difficulties due to Covid-19 and climate-related disasters, the humanitarian situation of migrants around the world has worsened, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) warned ahead of International Migrants Day on 18 December.
Francesco Rocca, President of the IFRC, said:
“2021 has been another terrible year for migrants across the world. Far too many migrants continue to face significant humanitarian needs with devastating consequences, with many taking life-threatening journeys, others excluded from essential services and critical protection, and yet more facing hostility and exclusion in countries of transit and destination. Governments have the duty to protect human dignity and save lives, and humanity must be at the centre of any and all decisions. When did we forget that?”
To date, the numbers of migrants have reached record levels at 281 million across the world. While many migrants are able to search for a better life in a safe way, thousands continue to embark on dangerous, life-threatening journeys with only the clothes on their backs. In 2021 alone, more than 1,600 people are reported to have died or gone missing on the Central Mediterranean route and more than 1,000 in the Americas, but the actual numbers are thought to be much higher.
Climate-related disasters have already forced millions of people to flee their homes and the numbers are expected to continue to increase in the years to come. The socio-economic impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic in the past two years have also hit migrants particularly hard due to pre-existing vulnerabilities, precarious livelihoods, lack of state support as well as movement restrictions. Migrants have also been disproportionately affected in terms of health care and lack of access to vaccines.
“All over the world, migrants face enormous risks to their lives, safety, dignity, human rights and well-being. Governments must provide people on the move access to adequate food, shelter, basic healthcare, and legal advice about their rights irrespective of migration status. At the same time, humanitarian organisations must be granted unconditional access to provide humanitarian assistance to all people in need,” President Rocca added.
The IFRC network has a global presence along migratory routes, including at sea on the world’s deadliest route in the Central Mediterranean, providing humanitarian support to migrants throughout their journeys - in countries of origin, transit and destination. In at least 110 countries and in a coordinated manner across borders, National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies provide life-saving assistance and protection to migrants regardless of their legal status, based on their needs and vulnerabilities.
“On this International Migrants Day and every day, we will continue to make the voices of migrants in vulnerable situations heard. No human being is illegal, and we will not stay silent as their mistreatment continues. Now is the time for all governments to finally show some humanity,” President Rocca concluded.
For more information or to arrange an interview, contact:
In Geneva: Tommaso Della Longa, +41 79 708 4367, [email protected]
In Geneva: Ann Vaessen, +41 79 405 77 50, [email protected]
| Press release
Red Cross Red Crescent reaching 1.5 million people on the move in MENA, yet millions are left without support
Beirut, 16 December 2021 – Red Cross and Red Crescent National Societies are reaching more than 1.5 million migrants, refugees and internally displaced people (IDPs) in the Middle East and North Africa, yet the number of people on the move left without essential support is colossal, a report by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) has found.
Ahead of International Migrants Day on 18 December, the IFRC is calling for a stronger commitment to support people on the move during their journey, not only once they have managed to reach their planned destination – if they ever do.
Fabrizio Anzolini, Migration Regional Advisor for IFRC MENA, said:
“Countless migrants face inhumane conditions along their way, including violence, lack of food, shelter and access to health services. Climate change and conflicts are only expected to accelerate the number of people migrating out of the region in the coming months and years. We need to act right now on the routes and advocating for durable solutions.”
The region, with more than 40 million migrants and 14 million internally displaced people, has some of the world’s longest protracted conflicts, combined with frequent natural disasters, man-made crises and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Regional hotspots include the population movement from Afghanistan to Iran, the migration flows from Morocco, Tunisia and Libya to Europe, the extensive number of internally displaced persons in Syria, as well as the route from the Horn of Africa to Yemen, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states.
Rania Ahmed, IFRC MENA Deputy Regional Director, said:
“Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies are reaching more than 1.5 million migrants and displaced people in the Middle East and North Africa, but it is not enough. We need bigger investment and greater long-term commitment to address their plight. We need to mobilize all efforts and resources to ensure people on the move receive humanitarian assistance and protection. Migrants and displaced populations are intensely vulnerable and must be included in COVID-19 prevention, response, and recovery plans. We urge governments to ensure that people on the move have equal access to vaccinations, health care and basic services.”
With the engagement of the IFRC, Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies in the MENA region are on the frontline attempting to cover the enormous gap between people’s needs and the support that is available for them. Red Cross and Red Crescent teams provide multidisciplinary assistance, including health services, livelihood support, protection for children and victims of violence, mental health, and psychosocial support, as well as cash assistance. These support services are also widely available to host communities, leaving no one behind.
Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies remain committed to continue responding to the needs of migrants and displaced people as well as advocating for the support that they need at country, regional and global levels through evidence-based humanitarian diplomacy. However, their continued activities are hampered by shrinking funding. In addition, access to migrants is often limited, especially in conflict zones and due to restrictions put in place to curb the COVID-19 pandemic.
You can access the full report here: MENA Red Cross and Red Crescent Activities on Migration and Displacement – Snapshot 2021. The survey includes responses from twelve Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies in the Middle East and North Africa.
For more information or to arrange an interview, contact:
In Geneva: Rana Sidani Cassou, +41 766715751 / +33 675945515, [email protected]
In Beirut: Jani Savolainen, +961 70372812 / +358 504667831, [email protected]
| Press release
€325 million boost to EU’s largest ever humanitarian programme, reaching 1.5 million vulnerable refugees in Turkey
Thursday, 2 December: Ankara, Turkey - More than 1.5 million refugees in Turkey will continue receiving critical support thanks to a €325 million boost from the EU’s largest humanitarian cash programme, the Emergency Social Safety Net (ESSN), in partnership with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), and the Turkish Red Crescent Society in close coordination with the Government of Turkey.
In a press conference today in Ankara, Turkey, Janez Lenarčič, EU Commissioner for Crisis Management said:
“Thanks to new EU funds announced today, we will be able to continue the ESSN programme throughout 2022. This support is a critical lifeline for thousands of families, many of whom have been especially hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic. This cash assistance enables them to decide for themselves what they need most urgently, whilst contributing to the Turkish economy.”
Turkey currently hosts the largest refugee population in the world, many of which are Syrians. The ESSN has been providing monthly financial assistance via the “Kizilaykart” debit card since 2016, helping families cover their most essential needs, such as food, rent, transport and medicine.
The additional funds from the European Commission will continue until early 2023. Refugee families currently receive 155 Turkish Lira (about €10) monthly per person with additional quarterly top-ups based on family size, enabling them to decide for themselves how to cover what they need while contributing to the local Turkish economy. The cash assistance, which is aligned with the existing Turkish safety net, currently supports around one-third of the vulnerable refugee population in the country.
Jagan Chapagain, IFRC Secretary General said:
“We are seeing the destructive secondary impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly for those most vulnerable, including refugees. We’ve heard from families who are making impossible decisions – between covering their bills, feeding their families, or keeping their children in school. Now more than ever, this cash assistance is critical – it is a lifeline for so many.”
New research from Turkish Red Crescent and IFRC has shown that debt levels among refugees in Turkey have more than doubled since the COVID-19 pandemic began with just under half of those surveyed not having an acceptable food consumption, a 20 per cent increase in the last year. The cash assistance from the ESSN is providing an important buffer, with one in two people saying it has helped them manage their debt.
Dr. Kerem Kınık, President of Turkish Red Crescent said:
“Many vulnerable groups are facing one of their most difficult years, living in hard conditions. Many have come to Turkey for safety. Continued support to the ESSN will ensure families can keep a roof over their children's heads, feed their families and help them get through these difficult times.”
Photos from the visit
Additional b-roll on the ESSN programme
European Union: The European Union and its Member States are the world’s leading donor of humanitarian aid. Relief assistance is an expression of European solidarity with people in need all around the world. It aims to save lives, prevent and alleviate human suffering, and safeguard the integrity and human dignity of populations affected by disasters and crises. Through its Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations department (ECHO), the European Union helps millions of victims of conflict and disasters every year. With headquarters in Brussels and a global network of field offices, the EU provides assistance to the most vulnerable people on the basis of humanitarian needs.
The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is the world’s largest humanitarian organization, reaching 150 million people in 192 National Societies, including Turkish Red Crescent, through the work of 13.7 million volunteers. The IFRC acts before, during and after disasters to meet the needs and improve the lives of vulnerable people. The IFRC has been leading large-scale cash programmes for decades in response to a broad spectrum of disasters around the globe.
The Turkish Red Crescent (Türk Kızılay) is the largest humanitarian organization in Turkey, helping vulnerable people in and out of disasters for years, both in the country and abroad. Since 2012, the TRC has been providing first-line response to the refugee influx, supporting millions of people in camps and urban settings. Through their leading cash team and the “Kizilaykart” debit card, the TRC supports millions of vulnerable refugees and Turkish communities to cover their basic needs.
The Turkish Red Crescent, IFRC and EU work in coordination with the Government of Turkey and its Ministry of Family and Social Services. The Government of Turkey is an important partner of the Emergency Social Safety Net programme, which is linked to the existing social system in Turkey. The country hosts the world’s largest number of refugees, and the Turkish Government plays a leading role, with regards to the response to the Syria crisis.
For more information or to arrange an interview:
European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations: Lisa Hastert, +905334125663, [email protected]
IFRC: Corrie Butler, +90 539 8575198, [email protected]
Turkish Red Crescent: Nisa Çetin, +90 554 8303114, [email protected]
| Press release
Joint statement by IFRC and ICRC on migration crisis at the borders between Belarus, Poland, Lithuania and other countries
Budapest/Geneva - November 18, 2021 - The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) are alarmed by the humanitarian tragedy unfolding at the borders between Belarus, Poland and Lithuania. At least 10 people are known to have died, including a 14-year-old boy due to hypothermia.The situation is set to worsen with the most serious winter weather yet to arrive.
IFRC has allocated more than 1 million Swiss Francs to Belarus Red Cross, Polish Red Cross and Lithuanian Red Cross, whose volunteers and staff are assisting thousands of vulnerable people with food, water, blankets and vital medical assistance.ICRC is complementing the response, providing support and additional technical expertise to Red Cross partners, notably to keep migrants in contact with their relatives and other protection-related issues.
Birgitte Ebbesen, IFRC Regional Director for Europe said: “There are extremely vulnerable people at the border, including people with disabilities, pregnant women, and hundreds of children – many of them without a parent or family member. They have been sleeping rough in freezing conditions for many days now. Our volunteers have been able to provide some assistance, but many are still hungry and cold. These are mothers, sisters, sons and daughters, people whose lives matter, and they should be protected and treated with compassion and dignity.”
Martin Schüepp, ICRC Regional Director for Europe and Central Asia said: “To protect people’s lives, health and dignity, as well as ease suffering and prevent further tragedy, all Red Cross Red Crescent Movement partners and other humanitarian organisations need immediate, unrestricted access to all migrants, including at borders. The ICRC is providing support and additional technical expertise to our Red Cross partners, on reuniting people with separated family members and other protection-related issues.”
All migrants, irrespective of their legal status, should have effective access to humanitarian assistance and medical assistance, as well as to protection. Whether this is international protection, or a voluntary return to their home countries, migrants’ rights should be respected at all times and authorities should avoid separating family members and putting at risk their lives and physical integrity.
For more information or to arrange interviews, please contact:
In Budapest: Corinne Ambler, +36 704 306 506, [email protected]
In Budapest: Georgia Trismpioti, +30 697 180 9031, [email protected]
In Geneva: Florian Seriex, +41 79 574 06 36, [email protected]
In Geneva: Ruth Hetherington, +33 6 33 28 88 23, [email protected]
СОВМЕСТНОЕ ЗАЯВЛЕНИЕ МЕЖДУНАРОДНОЙ ФЕДЕРАЦИИ И МККК О МИГРАЦИОННОМ КРИЗИСЕ НА ГРАНИЦАХ БЕЛАРУСИ С ПОЛЬШЕЙ, ЛИТВОЙ И ДРУГИМИ СТРАНАМИ
Для спасения жизней и облегчения страданий гуманитарным организациям срочно необходим неограниченный и безопасный доступ к пострадавшим
Будапешт/Женева - 18 ноября 2021Международная Федерация обществ Красного Креста и Красного Полумесяца (Международная Федерация) и Международный Комитет Красного Креста (МККК) всерьез обеспокоены гуманитарной трагедией, разворачивающейся на белорусско-польской и белорусско-литовской границах. По подтвержденным данным, от переохлаждения скончались как минимум десять человек, в том числе мальчик 14 лет. С приближением суровой зимы ситуация будет только ухудшаться.
Международная Федерация выделила более 1 миллиона швейцарских франков национальным обществам Красного Креста Беларуси, Польши и Литвы, чьи добровольцы и сотрудники снабжают тысячи беззащитных людей продовольствием, водой и одеялами и оказывают им жизненно необходимую медицинскую помощь. МККК содействует усилиям своих партнеров по краснокрестному движению, предоставляя им практическую помощь и рекомендации, в частности для поддержания контактов между мигрантами и их родственниками и в связи с другими вопросами предоставления защиты.
«Среди скопившихся на границе людей есть те, кто находится в крайне уязвимом положении, в том числе инвалиды, беременные женщины и сотни детей, многие из которых остались без сопровождения родителей или родственников. Уже много дней подряд все они вынуждены ночевать на морозе, прямо под открытым небом. Нашим добровольцам удается оказать им какую-то помощь, но многие по-прежнему страдают от голода и холода. Эти люди — чьи-то матери, сестры, сыновья и дочери. Их жизни имеют значение. Они имеют право на защиту, сострадание и достойное обращение», — заявила Биргитта Эббесен, директор Европейского регионального офиса Международной Федерации.
«Чтобы защитить жизнь, здоровье и человеческое достоинство этих людей, облегчить их страдания и не допустить новых трагедий, всем составным частям Международного движения Красного Креста и Красного Полумесяца и другим гуманитарным организациям срочно необходим неограниченный доступ ко всем мигрантам, в том числе на границах. МККК помогает своим партнерам по Движению и делится с ними опытом в деле воссоединения разлученных родственников и по другим вопросам предоставления защиты», — отметил Мартин Шюпп, глава Регионального управления оперативной деятельности МККК в Европе и Центральной Азии.
Все мигранты, независимо от их правового статуса, должны иметь эффективный доступ к гуманитарной и медицинской помощи и должны пользоваться защитой. Их права — будь то на международную защиту или на добровольное возвращение домой — должны соблюдаться во всякое время, и власти должны воздерживаться от того, чтобы разлучать родственников и подвергать опасности здоровье и физическую неприкосновенность людей.
Получить более подробную информацию или договориться о проведении интервью можно, обратившись к:
Georgia Trismpioti, +30 697 180 9031, [email protected] (Будапешт)
Corinne Ambler, +36 704 306 506, [email protected] (Будапешт)
Florian Seriex, +41 79 574 06 36, [email protected] (Женева)
Ruth Hetherington, +33 6 33 28 88 23, [email protected] (Женева)