| Press release
IFRC report: Goals for poverty reduction, decent work and closing inequality gap, stalled by COVID-19 in Latin America and the Caribbean
Panama City, May 20, 2022 - The devastating socioeconomic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic have stalled some of the key Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in Latin America and the Caribbean. It is unlikely that the region will end poverty, ensure gender equality, promote decent and equitable work, and reduce inequality within and between countries by the target date of 2030. This is one of the main findings of "Readjusting the path towards equity," a recent study by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).
The report confirms that COVID-19 increased unemployment, reduced the income of the poorest families, forced more than one million children to leave school, reduced labour protection and worsened inequality and gender violence.
Head of IFRC's Disaster, Climate and Crisis unit in the Americas, Roger Alonso, said:
"This study helps us understand the long-term impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the most vulnerable people’s income, access to food and well-being. The findings underline the fact that a full social and economic recovery will take years. To avoid irreversible levels of vulnerability, it is crucial to implement an inclusive and fair recovery, which also anticipates the effects of the current food and fuel price increases resulting from the conflict in Ukraine."
According to the report, the loss of income of the poorest populations increased food insecurity resulting in 60 million people suffering from hunger in the first year of the pandemic. That same year, 23 million women were pushed into poverty and since then, cases of domestic and sexual violence and human trafficking have increased.
In addition, 10% of jobs in the region were lost during the pandemic, and 30% of these have not yet been recovered. Meanwhile, 51% of the migrant population surveyed by IFRC said they lost their jobs and 53% of those who kept them, saw their income reduced or were not paid.
This IFRC analysis is based on literature review, interviews with experts and representatives of international organizations, as well as 1,825 surveys conducted in Argentina, Guatemala, Honduras, Panama and Venezuela.
Co-author of the report and IFRC Livelihoods Recovery Officer in the Americas, Daniela Funez, said:
''Listening to the communities we serve is a priority for the Red Cross network. That's what allows us to know their needs in depth and, in this case, the data they provided us confirms the projections made by international agencies about the effects of COVID-19 on the SDGs'."
To address the socioeconomic impacts of the pandemic, the IFRC suggests prioritizing attention to the most vulnerable groups, incorporating a gender approach in humanitarian action and contributing to reducing the effects of climate change. It also calls for increased investment in vaccination, protection and livelihood protection, a key issue to close the 60% funding gap needed to continue responding to the medium and long-term effects of COVID-19.
For more information:
In Bogota:David Quijano +57 310 5592559,[email protected]
In Panama:Susana Arroyo Barrantes,[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
“We need to do better” – IFRC report reveals gaps in child protection during climate related disasters
Kingston, Jamaica – November 19, 2021. Adolescents overwhelmingly feel that they do not have the information needed to be safe from potential violence, abuse, and exploitation in climate related disasters. This is one of the main findings of “We Need to Do Better: Climate Related Disasters, Child Protection and Localizing Action in the Caribbean,” a recent study conducted by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).
The report has revealed that even though climate related disasters affect each person in the region, children are particularly at risk. They make up a large portion of the population of the Caribbean and are most vulnerable to encountering violence, abuse, and exploitation in disaster settings, while systems to protect them do not always work. The study also highlights that there are no specific laws in place to protect children from violence, abuse and exploitation when disasters happen.
Gurvinder Singh, IFRC’s Child Protection Senior Advisor and one of the authors of the report, said:
“While children potentially have great leadership and innovation capabilities, unfortunately, their voices are rarely being sought out or heard. Furthermore, there is a huge deficit in meaningful opportunities for children to be engaged in decisions that affect them. This is especially prominent in the stages of preparing for and responding to disasters. Adolescents believe that even if they do participate, their opinions may not be taken seriously by adults.”
By putting the voices, perspectives, and ideas of children at the forefront, the report seeks to understand the generally unexplored relationships between climate related disasters and children’s concerns around violence, abuse, exploitation, and mental health challenges. It also sends a warning to governments and civic organisations to play a more active role in the promotion of and respect for the rights of the child, especially with regards to the issue of child abuse and the need for urgent effective prevention programmes.
Ariel Kestens, IFRC’s Head of Delegation for the Dutch-and English-speaking Caribbean, said:
“It is critical that governments enhance domestic laws, invest in child protection systems, improve local coordination, train local responders, include protection and climate change in school curriculum, and collect sex-, age- and disability-disaggregated data in disaster responses. The IFRC Network across the Caribbean stands ready to support them to continue striving to meet the best interests of each child affected by more and more frequent, and destructive climate related disasters.”
The report also recommends practical actions for the humanitarian sector, such as designing child-friendly communications, implementing community feedback mechanisms, including child protection in anticipatory action, integrating child protection across preparedness, assessments and planning, and creating spaces for children and adults to engage, support one another and find viable solutions to protection risks.
The study was based on discussions and an online survey with 198 adolescents ages 14-17 years in the Bahamas, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago; interviews with 30 adults from different disaster and child protection agencies, and background research. It is part of the campaign “We Need to Do Better” by the IFRC to enhance protection of children in climate related disasters.
The full report may be accessed here. The adolescent summary of the report is available here.
For more information, please contact:
In Jamaica: Trevesa DaSilva | +876 818-8575 | [email protected]
In Panama: Susana Arroyo Barrantes | + 506 8416 1771 | [email protected]
Protection, Gender and Inclusion
For the IFRC to remain true to our principles, we must ensure we reach all people effectively and in a non-discriminatory and equitable manner. Our work must ensure dignity, access, participation and safety for all people affected by disasters and crises.
Inclusion, protection and engagement
At the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), we believe that diversity is a fact, inclusion is an act. Through all of our work, we aim to protect and promote a positive change for humanity, based on our humanitarian values and Fundamental Principles.
The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is deeply committed to creating a safe, respectful and dignified environment for the communities we serve and for all our volunteers and staff.
Urgent action needed to protect children against climate related disasters in Africa
This article has been prepared by IFRC's Protection, Gender and Inclusion (PGI) unit.
Nairobi/Geneva, 5 July 2021 - The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), Africa Region is calling on its partners to do more to protect children amid increasing vulnerabilities due to climate related disasters. This call comes ahead of the upcoming Africa Dialogue/Anticipatory Action event.
MohammedMukhier, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies’ (IFRC) Regional Director for Africa said:
“As drought and food insecurity take hold, we see again that Africa is one of the most vulnerable regions to the effects of climate change and its related disasters. IFRC is deeply concerned about the disproportionate level of protection risks against children across Africa posed by climate related disasters. Anticipating need and taking effective action is essential.”
IFRC is calling on all humanitarian actors to do a better job at preventing children from increased violence, abuse and exploitation. IFRC’s study, “We Need To Do Better” shows that climate related disasters puts pressure on protective systems, leaving families in desperate situations, and reducing children’s chances of shaping their own futures.
Mukhier added: “Climate change related extreme weather and rising temperatures have increased the frequency of droughts and floods in Africa and around the world, leading to knock-on effects such as economic hardship, child labour, severe malnutrition, lack of access to clean water and WASH facilities, child marriage and lower school attendance. The consequences of these are felt today and will continue to undermine children’s protection for years to come. We need to invest more in preventative action including anticipatory action with a specific lens on child protection.”
Presently, the menace of floods, COVID-19, conflict, and locusts in parts of the African region, linked to the warming climate, is a key example of the risks. Yet, this may worsen in the coming months, especially between June and August 2021, with the exacerbation of food insecurity.
Furthermore, climate related displacement is a significant concern. Rapid and slow onset environmental degradation diminishes living conditions, forcing families to leave their homes and often separate from their children. Many children are also forced to reside in unsafe refugee and IDP camps in countries across the continent where they are at risk of trafficking, recruitment into armed groups and sexual violence.
Climate related disasters in the region also threaten children’s access to school including through forcing schools to close, intensifying dropouts, families having to choose between school and livelihoods, and making transport and access to school hard for the poorest. This is already happening in Eastern and Southern Africa, where around 28 per cent of the children are unable to attend school. The lowest attendance rates are observed in the Horn, where climate related disasters are particularly prevalent.
School attendance is vital for children because—apart from education—learning institutions provide an environment that protects children from abuse, violence and exploitation.
Children’s mental health is also affected by the short and long-term impacts of repeated disasters. Instability and separation from family can exacerbate the stress and trauma of the experience. Psycho-social support is crucial for the emotional wellbeing, mental health and development of children.
Girls are at particular risk in climate related disasters as they experience unequal access to school, resources and decision-making, particularly in areas facing severe poverty. During and after climate related disasters, girls are more vulnerable to sexual abuse, exploitation, and trafficking. Child marriage, for example, may be used as a coping mechanism by families who experience economic hardship induced by environmental disasters. Girls who are married are at risk of physical and sexual abuse, poor nutrition, and increased chance of maternal neonatal death.
Mukhier called for a more proactive approach: “Local humanitarian actors need to take urgent, coordinated, and preventative actions to better protect children from the dire consequences of climate related disasters in the Africa region. We need to better anticipate protection needs and take practical actions. Children have not contributed to the climate crisis and yet they carry its heaviest burdens today and for the decades to come. We need to do better to ensure we work with children as partners and prioritize their protection and education.”
The IFRC urges humanitarian actors to: (1) recognize the impact of climate change related disasters on children; (2) invest in child protection and education systems, including localized coordination mechanisms; (3) include children, both boys and girls, in climate disaster related decision-making processes and the development of local solutions; and (4) prioritize anticipatory action to protect children from the impacts of climate disasters.
Women are the agents of change for climate change in southern Africa
By: Dr Michael Charles
Today South Africa marks Women’s Day. Much like the women being commemorated for the march to the Union Buildings on 9 August 1956, women in southern Africa today may well hold the same flint that lights a “new movement” – climate change.
Southern Africa is one of the regions projected to experience the most serious consequences of global warming and the El Niño effect. In 2019, we experienced one of the worst disasters the region has ever seen - Cyclone Idai ravaged communities in Mozambique, Malawi, and Zimbabwe and continue to rebuild their lives.
Urgent action is needed to increase the region’s preparedness for natural disasters. It is only a matter of time until the next disaster strikes. Being female often automatically means that personal susceptibility to sexual and domestic violence, rape and assault in emergency situations is significantly heightened. Women experience additional difficulties because they are typically responsible for sourcing water and preparing food; caring for children, the injured, sick and elderly; and maintaining family and community cohesion.
Tackling climate change is, undoubtedly, women’s business. They have a vested interest in avoiding and mitigating the impacts of climate change. It is time that humanitarian actors and policy and decision-makers mainstream gender in policy and practice. It is not a “nice to do”; it is crucial to making real and sustainable differences in the lives of affected people.
In 1956, 200,000 South African women declared that enough was enough and acted to defend themselves and the unity and integrity of their families from restrictive laws that required them to carry a pass to reside and move freely in urban areas.
Wathint'Abafazi Wathint'imbokodo! Now you have touched the women, you have struck a rock! was the rallying cry of that day, used to signify the women’s unshakeable and unbreakable resolve in the face of adversity as they marched to the Union Building in Pretoria, and sparked change in the course of South Africa’s history.
As countries in southern Africa ramp up their disaster risk management and humanitarian organisations work to strengthen community recovery and resilience, women in southern Africa should not just be considered victims and survivors who need special protection and assistance. They are forces for change who can be relied on to represent themselves within their communities and at the highest decision-making levels.
[caption id="attachment_55507" align="alignnone" width="1024"] Photo: Sonia and other Red Cross volunteers speak to Dr. Michael Charles in Beira, Mozambique[/caption]
I am always inspired by the women I meet responding in disasters, most recently in Cyclone Idai. Women like, Sonia, a volunteer who was working long hours to support women in a shelter, displaced by Cyclone Idai or Flora, who was affected herself by flooding but was dedicated to helping her neighbours rebuild their homes and their lives.
Happy Women’s Day, South Africa. May the flame that was lit in 1956 and the fire of women’s empowerment and participation that was built over the decades rage on.
Dr Michael Charles is the Head of the Southern Africa Cluster of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.