IFRC statement at the Seventy-sixth World Health Assembly #WHA
Mr Chairperson, Director General, Excellencies and colleagues,
On behalf of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and its 192-member Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, allow me to congratulate the World Health Organization on the occasion of its 75th anniversary.
Our presence here today is a testament to the vision of the Member State towards WHO’s constitution, who set for it the most difficult, as well as the most relevant objective: achievement of the highest attainable health standard for everyone, without distinction of race, religion, political belief, economic or social status.
But it is also a testament to the WHO’s ability to adapt and grow in the face of disasters, war, and crisis, as well as an ever-shifting social, economic and environmental landscape.
As a humanitarian organization founded in 1919, IFRC have faced many of these challenges together with the WHO, and we can be sure that the next 75 years will continue to challenge our abilities. Today, our major challenge of equitable access to health care is more elusive than ever, an issue that can only be resolved through political commitments.
In that sense, perhaps the most relevant questions, looking ahead, is not what new challenges the next 75 years will bring, but how we will face them. Will we work in coordinated partnership to address the social determinants of health, or will we continue working in fragmented manner? Will our policies and actions be defined by communities and local actors or from places hundreds of kilometers away? And will we have the courage to invest in trusted, resilient, and quality health care, or continue to be essentially reactive?
Political and health leaders at this Assembly have opened many doors in the past two years to make way for meaningful change, and these are questions to reflect upon during this Assembly.
More information about the Seventy-sixth World Health Assembly, including videos of the event, can be found on the World Health Organization (WHO) website here.
World Red Cross and Red Crescent Day 2023
Henry caring for the wounded in Solferino, Hilda helping hurricane victims in Port Vila, Mohamed monitoring the nutritional condition of the inmates in Baidoa prison, Yulima teaching first aid to people with disabilities in Maracay, and Luna rescuing migrants on the shore of Ceuta – they, like many Red Cross and Red Crescent volunteers around the world, offer care, a hand of compassion and a life-changing breath of humanity to those who are most vulnerable. #FromTheHeart
Today, on World Red Cross and Red Crescent Day, we celebrate the legacy of Henry Dunant – whose vision led to the creation of the worldwide Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement – and the countless volunteers who came after him. Their unwavering commitment and exemplary dedication to helping anyone in need, anywhere and to upholding our Fundamental Principles at all times – whether responding to natural hazards, climate crises, conflicts, health emergencies, displacement, or migration – is admired around the world.
We nonetheless face tremendous challenges in carrying out our humanitarian action in a world beset by uncertainty and so many complex and multi-dimensional crises.
International attention is diverted from protracted and low-visibility crises, and resources are lacking to ensure the continuity of aid to those most in need and sustain the local action of humanitarian organizations and workers who are closest to the affected communities.
Natural hazards, climatic disasters and health emergencies are multiplying and reaching unprecedented scale.
The parties involved in armed conflicts and violence often ignore some of the most basic rules of humanitarian law and hamper neutral and impartial humanitarian organizations’ access to vulnerable people – access that should be free and safe. While there are those who challenge humanitarian principles, principled humanitarian action is as vitally important as ever.
Our Red Cross and Red Crescent family is at the forefront of humanitarian assistance and ensuring protection for those who need it most. The world has increasingly seen how effective our Movement can be in addressing overlapping crises and providing principled humanitarian assistance. Our strength lies in our unity, our determination to carry forward the ideals of neutral, impartial, independent humanitarian action and our commitment to the humanitarian cause.
Today, we celebrate the millions of Red Cross and Red Crescent volunteers and staff around the world, who every day in their respective countries, regions and communities carry forward the determination of Henry Dunant to provide hope and dignity in the midst of despair to people in vulnerable situations without distinction or thought of personal gain.
Happy World Red Cross and Red Crescent Day! #FromTheHeart
Mirjana Spoljaric, ICRC President
Mercedes Babé, Standing Commission Chair
Francesco Rocca, IFRC President
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 welcomes landmark UN Security Council resolution as a critical step towards scaling up humanitarian action in crisis-hit countries
Geneva, 9 December 2022– The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) welcomes the UN Security Council’s landmark resolution protecting humanitarian action in countries where UN sanctions apply.
This resolution will facilitate the timely delivery of life-saving and timely support to people living in the most fragile and vulnerable environments.
“This landmark resolution is critical in that it helps to reduce the needs of millions of people impacted by the multiple ongoing crises around the world. It will facilitate the work of the IFRC and its network of 192-member National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies to deliver timely humanitarian assistance to communities who need it the most,” said Jagan Chapagain, Secretary General of the IFRC.
The legally binding decision is unprecedented for National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and will help them to continue providing aid to the communities they serve and save lives. However, it is only a first step.
“States must now give effect to this exemption in their domestic systems so that humanitarian actors can scale up support to communities where needs are and in particular in situations where UN sanctions apply,” remarked Mr. Chapagain.
To request an interview or for more information, please contact:
In Washington: Marie Claudet, +1 202 999 8689, [email protected]
Universal Health Coverage: IFRC Secretary General addresses the Third Annual Ministerial Meeting of the Group of Friends of Universal Health Coverage (UHC) and Global Health
It is an honour to co-host today’s event as part of the Group of Friends on Universal Health Coverage and speak on behalf of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, comprising 192 National Societies and millions of staff and volunteers.
Universal Health Coverage, which embodies the right of all people to quality, accessible, affordable, and available health services, reverberates deeply with the IFRC’s core mission to act in the interest of the most vulnerable and alleviate human suffering.
Since 2018, we have been scaling up our work on UHC and aligning ourselves with the WHO’s programme of work. As a member of UHC2030, we supported Country Focus Groups before and after the 2019 High Level Meeting to share lived experiences, challenges and achievements in UHC from populations often left behind.
This year, the IFRC conducted country consultations across the world with communities and civil society groups to identify barriers to accessing basic health services and to provide key inputs to the State of UHC Commitment report.
Despite all progress, we’re witnessing that many vulnerable groups and marginalized populations lack access to lifesaving health services.
One year from today, the High-Level Meeting on UHC must serve as a juncture for making the political commitments to strengthen health systems for future generations.
First, we must prioritize the health needs of the most vulnerable, especially in situations of disasters, climate crisis, health emergencies and violence. Governments must tackle stigma and discrimination and build trust by integrating vulnerable communities into policy making itself. Women and girls have reported greater difficulties in accessing healthcare, and people on the move are often completely left out of national health schemes.
Second, we must invest in ensuring safety and protection of community health workers and volunteers, including our Red Cross and Red Crescent volunteers, who have a deep understanding of the risks, vulnerabilities and inequalities that affect the health status of their communities and represent a key resource by working with the formal health system to deliver services. The role of community first responders in ensuring improved and timely coverage of essential health services became even more obvious during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Third, governments should develop community health strategies through improved collaboration between public health services, communities, and civil society organizations. More investment is needed in scaling up risk communication and community engagement as a key component of people-centred health systems. We strongly believe in empowering communities and ensuring their meaningful engagement in decision making.
Our National Societies, as neutral and impartial actors, can translate the needs of communities into policy, social protection systems, infrastructure, laws and governance issues. Health systems should also be backed by better public health emergency laws that enable systematic responses to pandemics and health emergencies – we have just launched a guidance on public health emergency law to support this.
Lastly, and importantly, there is no health without mental health, especially in crisis situations. Health system strengthening means integrating and resourcing mental health and psychosocial support services for all who may need them.
Excellencies, colleagues, access to health services is not a privilege and should not be treated as such.
We cannot afford to lose the opportunity of next year’s High-Level Meeting and cannot waiver: achieving Universal Health Coverage is the only way forward.
We are committed to continuing work with governments and other partners to implement our shared commitments to UHC and stronger health systems for everyone, everywhere.
| Press release
COP27: Now is the time to transform words into action
In response to the Sharm El-Sheikh Implementation Plan, a statement by President Francesco Rocca and Secretary General Jagan Chapagain of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC):
While leaders have been meeting at COP27 for the past two weeks, families are dealing with the very real impacts of extreme weather—unable to wait for promises to transform into action.
Over the past two weeks, the IFRC’s risk watch system put out alerts for some 14 floods in Africa, 18 in the Americas, 35 in Asia Pacific, five in the European Union and two in the MENA region. During this period, four named tropical storms threatened destruction. Wildfires have ripped through communities in ten countries, affecting more than 10,000 hectares. And on Friday, at least three people died as the result of floods in Kigali, Rwanda and 11 in Venezuela. In Ethiopia 185,000 people were displaced. Communities in Africa and Afghanistan continue to grapple with food insecurity, which are alarming compounding crises.
Loss and Damage landed on the COP agenda for the first time, and today world leaders have agreed to the establishment of new funding arrangements assisting developing nations, especially those most at-risk of the adverse effects of climate change. We welcome the finance pledges which have been made on Loss and Damage, which are historically important conversations and positive steps forward. These need to be complemented by new and additional finance that reaches the people and communities most at risk – and to be predictable, adequate, and flexible in order to address climate related crisis.
We are pleased to see the agreement to operationalize the Santiago Network on Loss and Damage to provide crucial technical assistance to reduce and respond to the impacts communities are already facing. However, we must raise our ambition to reduce emissions and this COP did not deliver on that front. Every increment of global warming matters to save lives and livelihoods, and is therefore critical to keep global temperatures below the 1.5C degrees warming limit.
We welcome the focus on Early Warning Systems in the Sharm El-Sheikh Implementation Plan, which reflects realities at the frontlines of the climate crisis that the IFRC has been bringing to the fore for over two decades. Reducing risk and saving lives, especially in last mile communities, is what our teams around the globe do every single day and it is heartening to see this work being expanded. To be most effective, early warnings must be followed by early action and these systems must be rooted in the communities—including those hardest to reach and families stuck in protracted crises.
As the humanitarian impacts of climate change keep growing, so too should the finance for adaptation, ensuring it reaches the most affected and most at-risk. As the legacy of the “implementation COP,” global investment needs to reach the local level.
It is time to turn words and commitments into action at the national level, to bring the agreement to life and make a real difference in the lives of people and communities most impacted by the climate crisis.
As the IFRC network, we are committed to scaling up local action to respond to the climate crisis, working with communities to build preparedness and resilience in face of rising risks and impacts.
Climate and environmental crises are a threat to humanity and we all have a role to play. Now we must look forward with focused determination and hope.
Our collective actions can inspire ambition we need to see in the world.
In Geneva: Jenelle Eli, +1 202 603 6803,[email protected]
| Press release
COP27: Negotiations are missing the ambition needed to protect those hardest hit by climate change, warns IFRC
The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is raising concern that progress is stalling at COP27 and that there is a risk that the ambition to deliver and build on commitments made in Glasgow is slipping away.
With just a few days left for leaders to take decisive action on climate change, commitments to make steep and immediate emission reductions to stay below the 1.5oC warming limit—and thus limit further human suffering—are falling behind. And while negotiators are grappling with issues designed to limit and respond to the rising human impacts of climate change, technical discussions on delivering new and additional finance for loss and damage, as well as adaptation, are progressing too slowly to meet the needs of people.
Instead, the IFRC calls on Parties to build on what was agreed in Glasgow and raise ambition and action on mitigation, adaptation and on loss and damage.
“Combating the climate crisis and its effects takes bold thinking and even more ambitious action. World leaders cannot afford downgrading, but must raise their level of ambition to tackle the climate crisis, which is already dangerous for communities around the globe,” said Francesco Rocca, President of the IFRC.
“Letting up on ambitious goals sends a clear signal back to countries that meeting their previous commitments is optional. This is unacceptable. Communities—especially those most impacted by climate change—need promises that deliver with new and additional support to meet the scale of needs,” remarked Jagan Chapagain, Secretary General of the IFRC.
This is the critical decade for action. The world cannot afford to stall or backtrack on lifesaving commitments. There is no time to delay. Already at 1.1oC warming, IFRC found that 86% of all disasters in the last decade are linked to climate and weather extremes, affecting 1.7 billion people. This is an increase of almost 35% since the 1990s.
Communities are being repeatedly hit by extreme events - such as Kenya, which faced floods then locusts and now a drought triggering food insecurity and leading to malnutrition and death across the horn of Africa.
“We must invest in local action. Without it, we will still be saying the same things at COP28,” reiterated Dr. Asha Mohammed, Secretary General of the Kenya Red Cross.
If we are to ever meet the needs of communities suffering these multiple repeated and overlapping events, it is essential to invest in ambitious mitigation, to scale up locally led adaptation and address losses and damages. Parties must respond to the growing demands for finance to reach the local level, reaching communities at the scale needed. These requests must be heard and translated into meaningful decision text.
Recent IFRC research demonstrates that many countries and communities are getting left behind when it comes to investment in climate adaptation. Existing funding is not enough to meet current needs, let alone the increased humanitarian impacts of more frequent and intense extreme weather and climate events.
According to Maarten van Aalst, Director of the Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre, COP27 needs to deliver on three fronts: tangible progress on mobilizing new and additional funding to address loss and damage; more finance for climate adaptation; and increased ambition to implement rapid emission reductions to keep hopes of limiting warming to 1.5C alive.
To request an interview or for more information, please contact:
In Sharm El-Sheikh:Jenelle Eli, +1 202 603 6803, [email protected]
In Washington: Marie Claudet, +1 202 999 8689, [email protected]
| Press release
IFRC launches Global Climate Resilience Platform to support 500 million people on climate crisis frontlines
Geneva, 9 November 2022 – As COP27 gets underway what’s most urgently needed is clear: accelerated investment in communities on the frontlines of the climate crisis.
At a make-or-break moment, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is launching today its Global Climate Resilience Platform to increase the resilience of communities most vulnerable to the changing climate.
The new initiative aims to support 500 million people by raising at least CHF1 billion through a five-year global initiative focusing on early warning and anticipatory action, nature-based solutions, and safety nets and shock responsive social protection.
Secretary General of the IFRC, Jagan Chapagain, says:
“We've launched the Global Climate Resilience Platform to create transformational change through an immense scale up of investment at the local community level, heeding the call for faster and broader efforts to address the climate crisis.
“Real sustainable change can only happen when the people impacted are driving decisions. Funding local climate action without having to go through multiple layers is crucial if we are to be truly successful in building resilience from the ground up.”
Through the platform, the IFRC network will support meaningful participation and the active leadership of women, local communities, Indigenous peoples, youth and other marginalised and/or underrepresented groups in the development and implementation of locally led climate action in 100 countries most vulnerable to climate change.
President of the IFRC, Francesco Rocca, says:
"The critical challenge of this decade is how to support and finance climate resilience initiatives at a global scale. The key is found in the shift of power and resources to local actors.”
IFRC’s Making it Count: Smart Climate Financing for the Most Vulnerable People report has found that many highly vulnerable countries are not receiving the climate adaptation support they need and are being left behind.
On average, they received less than a quarter of the adaptation funding per person that went to low or very low vulnerability countries.
In addition, only an estimated 10% of funding is granted at the local level as donors instead favour large-scale national infrastructure projects that risk missing the mark for local communities.
Under Secretary General of the IFRC, Nena Stoiljkovic, said the platform focused on the key areas that had been identified as having the most potential for transformative impact at scale through increased investment and were expected to generate multiple dividends, including—first and foremost—saving lives.
She noted that the initiative will link sources of funding across humanitarian, development and climate funds as well as innovative financing mechanisms involving the private sector to meet its ambitious but critical targets.
Increased resilience also stimulates sustainable development and innovation and is a more efficient focus in humanitarian response: investing one dollar in climate resilience in communities can save six dollars of investments in disaster response.
In Geneva:Jenelle Eli, +1 202 603 6803,[email protected]
In Washington: Marie Claudet, +1 202 999 8689, [email protected]
IFRC Secretary General speech at the Early Warnings for All Executive Action Plan launch
Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
The IFRC welcomes the UN Secretary-General’s pledge on Early Warning Systems for All.
Over the last decade, some of the most recent—and often predictable—extreme weather events were the most deadly, costly, and devastating.
From our experience, we know that early warnings can only work if they are turned into early anticipatory actions.
This message has come through well in the Early Warning for All initiative.
The IFRC has been contributing to 3 of the 4 pillars of the executive action plan on this initiative and leading on the ‘preparedness to respond' pillar.
We thank everyone involved in the development of the plan of action.
Now is the time to put the plan into action. Here is how:
First: help create an enabling environment where local communities and organizations like our National Red Cross and Red Crescent societies are truly empowered to lead local actions. Their power through their knowledge and ownership can be truly transformative in realising the ambitions of early warning and early action. Be courageous to unleash that power.
Second: the key to success is the power of partnership. Let's bring together and use the best of our organizations to implement the plan of action.
Third: The Early Warning for All initiative is most effective if we leverage the power of existing coordination and collaboration platforms such as the IFRC hosted Risk-informed Early Action Partnership and Anticipation Hub, as well as the Centre of Excellence.
Finally, put in place ambitious financing mechanisms. Change will not come without an investment. The IFRC’s Disaster Response Emergency Fund is a good example as it can disburse funds ahead of disasters to reduce their humanitarian impact.
Ultimately our collective success should be measured by the lives saved and livelihoods preserved.
The IFRC network looks forward to a strong collaboration on the Early Warning for All initiative with the WMO and other partners.
Together, let us ensure that early warnings are people-centered, including those in the furthest to reach places.
| Press release
COP27: The world cannot afford another set of vague promises, warns IFRC
Geneva, 1 November 2022 – No region in the world is spared from the devastating impacts of the climate crisis, but the communities most vulnerable to its effects are getting the least help.
New data from the world’s largest humanitarian network shows that none of the globe's 30 most vulnerable countries are among the 30 highest recipients of adaptation funding per capita.
At COP27, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) will call on world leaders to cut greenhouse gas emissions and significantly scale up funding to enable the most vulnerable communities to adapt and cope with the catastrophic impacts they are already facing.
Francesco Rocca, IFRC President said:
“Our planet is in crisis and climate change is killing the most at-risk. COP27 will fail if world leaders do not support communities who are on the frontlines of climate change. Families who are losing loved ones, homes or livelihoods cannot afford to wait for vague promises or weak commitments.”
“To save lives now and in the future, we need political action and concrete changes that prioritize the communities most at risk and help them become more resilient. The climate crisis is here now, and we need to protect those worst affected.”
Science is now alarmingly clear on the humanitarian impacts of climate change. IFRC data shows that in the last 10 years, 86% of all disasters triggered by natural hazards were caused by weather and climate-related events, killing at least 410,000 people and affecting a further 1.7 billion. The 2022 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report showed for the first time that climate change is already contributing to humanitarian crises, with an estimated 3.3-3.6 billion people living in contexts vulnerable to climate change.
Caroline Holt, Director of Disaster, Climate, and Crises at the IFRC remarked:
“Increasing adaptation funding is critical to help countries address climate change’s impacts and prepare for the future, but the new IFRC analysis demonstrates that the funding isn’t getting to places and communities who need it most. Climate adaptation funding per person averages less than 1 CHF per person in countries where vulnerability is highest.”
Somalia – where extreme droughts have brought the country to the brink of famine – was ranked highest for climate vulnerability but ranked only 64th for adaptation funding in 2020*. Somalia received less than a dollar per person in climate change adaptation each year, while the Central African Republic received less than two cents.
According to Maarten Van Aalst, Director of the Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre, when communities are given the tools to prepare for and anticipate climate risks, they can prevent extreme weather events from becoming disasters. Van Aalst points out that the world must also step up efforts to tackle the losses and damages already experienced by people on the frontline of the climate crisis.
Notes to editors:
View photos and videos with proper credit on IFRC ShaRED.
National Red Cross Red Crescent Societies not only respond to disasters when they occur, but also play a critical role in preventing hazards such as floods and heatwaves from becoming disasters. Working at the front lines in communities before, during and after disasters, they know what is needed to respond to climate crises and help communities prevent and adapt to the rising risks of climate change. The IFRC aims to support member National Societies to reach 250 million people each year with climate adaptation and mitigation services to reduce suffering and vulnerability.
* Climate Vulnerability is determined based on a combination of ND-GAIN and INFORM Index analysis of long term and short-term climate vulnerability. ND-GAIN quantifies national vulnerability to climate disruptions, while also assessing a country’s readiness to leverage investment for adaptive actions. Vulnerability is calculated as a combination of exposure, sensitivity and adaptive capacity, while readiness incorporates economic, governance and social components. The INFORM index quantifies national disaster risk based on historical exposure to hazards, vulnerability and coping capacity.
For more information or to arrange an interview:
In Washington: Marie Claudet, +1 202 999 8689, [email protected]
In Geneva: Jenelle Eli, +1 202 603 6803, [email protected]
Statement by the IFRC Secretary General at the Resumed High Level Segment of COP26
Excellencies, it is my privilege to address this plenary and I thank our host, the Government of the United Kingdom for their efforts to increase attention and action on the resilience agenda.
The climate crisis is a humanitarian crisis. Every day, we are seeing the growing impacts of climate change. Loss and damage are our daily reality.
In the month of October, there were 15 weather-related disasters affecting over 14.9 million people. Since the beginning of 2021, droughts have affected 40.1 million people—the highest number since 2016.
The IFRC and our 192-member National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies are responding to disasters and the humanitarian needs of people every day and working on local solutions to adapt to rising risks.
But the most vulnerable people are getting left behind.
The IFRC assessed which countries were the most climate-vulnerable looking at their exposure and coping capacities.We identified five countries with VERY high climate-vulnerability and a further 66 as having high vulnerability to climate-related threats.
But these countries are not getting the support they need.
Per person climate adaptation funding in 2019 averaged under one US dollar per person in very high vulnerability countries.
Somalia, the most vulnerable, ranks only 54th for per person climate change adaptation funding disbursements, whilst Afghanistan comes in 96th.
Many countries not receiving funding are fragile contexts that are hard to work in.
We must find ways to invest even where it is hard to do so, and we must collaborate to fill the gaps and get the resources to the local communities that are worst affected.
Global commitments are important, but they need to translate into local climate action.Communities, local governments, local organizations and local businesses need to be in the lead.
We will do our part. The IFRC, together with theInternational Committee of the Red Cross(ICRC), developed theClimate and Environment Charter for Humanitarian Organizations.
This now has over 170 signatories, and in this charter we all commit to greening our operations and to scaling up our climate action, building resilience wherever we work.
We are investing more in anticipatory action to save lives, in using nature-based solutions to build resilience, all while enabling locally-led action in the face of rising risks.
And we need to work together with you to do this.
For many people, survival is under threat today, in vulnerable countries but also in Australia, Europe, and the United States, where thousands have been killed by heatwaves, wildfires, floods and storms.
This will get worse as warming increases.
All of us will need to act before it’s too late. Let’s not miss our chance.
IFRC President, Francesco Rocca at COP26: "We don’t have any more time to waste”
Francesco Rocca, President of The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is in Glasgow attending the World Leaders Summit and calling for the people and communities most vulnerable to climate change to be at the heart of discussions.
At COP26, President Rocca made the following statements:
“The commitments made – or missed – at COP26 will have a huge impact on the lives of communities already on the front line of climate change.
We are seeing a clear rise in climate and weather related-emergencies. Wildfires, droughts, flooding, heatwaves, hurricanes; extreme weather events are happening more often and are putting more and more people in danger all over the world.
As world leaders convene in Glasgow for COP26, we are calling for the people and communities most vulnerable to climate change to be at the heart of discussions and decisions.
Global investment needs to reach them so that local people can adapt. For example, by building stronger buildings, homes, roads; and investing in early warning systems, so communities know when an extreme weather will hit and can prepare in advance.
Critically, we must avoid the catastrophic consequences of climate change, by reversing emissions and keeping the rise in global temperatures below 1.5 degrees.
The cost of inaction is far greater than the financial commitments promised. Vulnerable countries and communities are being left behind. In the future, humanitarian response alone will no longer be enough to keep communities safe.”
| Press release
IFRC and C40 Cities urge cities to prepare for more dangerous and deadly heat waves
14 June 2022, Geneva, New York—Heat waves are becoming more frequent, longer, hotter and deadlier, especially in urban areas, but the threats they pose are preventable if cities and residents are prepared for extreme heat and take steps to save lives.
The past seven years, from 2015 to 2021, have been the hottest on record and this year is already a punishing one. The life-threatening temperature spikes seen in recent months across India, Pakistan, East Asia and southern Europe and this week’s unusually intense, early-season heat wave gripping parts of the United States are an ominous sign of what is to come as the world gets warmer.
Every year, increasingly scorching temperatures put millions of people at risk of heat-related illnesses and claim the lives of thousands of others. People living in cities are hardest hit because urban areas are warmer than the surrounding countryside and are getting hotter due to climate change. Those most at risk are already vulnerable—the elderly and isolated, infants, pregnant women, those with pre-existing ailments and the urban poor, who often work outdoors or live and work in buildings without air conditioning or adequate ventilation.
But deaths from heat waves are not inevitable. Five billion people live in places that are prone to heat waves and where early warning systems can predict them before they happen.
“Heat waves are the silent killers of climate change, but they don’t have to be,” says Francesco Rocca, President of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC). “Most heat waves are forecast days or weeks in advance, giving ample time to act early and inform and protect the most vulnerable. The good news is that there are simple and low-cost actions authorities can take to prevent unnecessary deaths from heat.”
Ahead of the summer season in many parts of the world, IFRC is launching its first global Heat Action Day, today, 14 June—mobilizing branches and partners in over 50 cities to hold awareness-raising events about ways to reduce severe impacts of extreme heat.
The IFRC is also partnering with C40 Cities to call on city officials, urban planners, and city residents in every region of the world to prepare for more dangerous and deadly heat waves.
“Cities that are used to hot weather need to prepare for even longer periods of sweltering heat and cooler cities need to prepare for levels of extreme heat that they are not accustomed to,” says Mark Watts, Executive Director of C40 Cities. “From Miami to Mumbai and Athens to Abidjan, mayors in our network are increasing green spaces, expanding cool roof programmes and collaborating on heat actions to improve resilience to rising urban heat. But far more work is needed to reduce andmanage risks as the climate crisis worsens.”
TheC40 Cool Cities Networksupports cities to embed heat risk and management in their climate action plans, develop heat resilience studies, and develop, fine-tune and measure impacts of heat mitigation action, including cooling, greening and emergency management.The network has held intensive workshops on urban heat and equity, developed resources to guide heat action plans and, over the past two years, supported cities in managing the compound crises of extreme heat alongside the COVID-19 pandemic, focusing on outreach to vulnerable populations.
Across the globe, National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies are rising to the extreme heat challenge—supporting and improving local and national heat action plans, spreading messages to the public on heat safety, checking in on the most vulnerable, distributing water, supporting medical services, identifying and setting up cooling centres, and even helping people retrofit their homes to improve shade and reduce heat. They’re also expanding research on heat to parts of Africa, Asia and South America that have been overlooked in the past.
“The climate crisis is driving and intensifying humanitarian crisis in every region of the world,” says Rocca. “But when cities and communities are better prepared, extreme weather doesn’t have to become a disaster or a tragedy.”
Note to Editors:
IFRC’s “Heat Wave Guide for Cities” and “Urban Action Kit” are resources for city officials, urban planners and community organizations to anticipate and plan for extreme urban heat and reduce deadly risks.
C40’s “Urban Cooling Toolbox” provides approaches to lower urban temperatures and reduce the impact of the urban heat effect; the “Heat Resilient Cities Benefit Tool” helps city planners and decision-makers quantify the health, economic and environmental benefits of adaptation actions.
A heat wave is an extended period of unusually high temperatures and often high humidity. Extreme heat can cause shock, dehydration and other acute illnesses, and worsen cardiovascular and respiratory diseases.
There is now a mountain of evidence that climate change is increasing the occurrence of deadly heat waves. Scientists have concluded that climate change has made the 2022 heat wave in India and Pakistan 30 times more likely, the 2019 heat wave in western Europe 100 times more likely and the 2019-20 heat wave in Australia 10 times more likely.
Images and Video for use by media outlets:
Follow thisTwitter thread to access videos and photos of global Heat Action Day events. Heat emergency response images can be accessedhere
For more information or 1:1 interviews, contact:
IFRC: Melissa Winkler, [email protected], +41 76 2400 324
IFRC: Tommaso Della Longa, [email protected], +41 79 708 43 67
C40 Cities: Rolf Rosenkranz, [email protected]
IFRC is the world’s largest humanitarian network, comprising 192 National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies working to save lives, build community resilience, strengthen localization and promote dignity around the world.www.ifrc.org - Facebook-Twitter-YouTube
C40 Citiesis a network of nearly 100 mayors of the world’s leading cities who are working to deliver the urgent action needed right now to confront the climate crisis and create a future where everyone, everywhere can thrive. Mayors of C40 cities are committed to using a science-based and people-focused approach to help the world limit global heating to 1.5°C and build healthy, equitable and resilient communities.www.C40.org-Twitter-Instagram-Facebook-LinkedIn
| Press release
IFRC urges governments and humanitarian partners to protect lives ahead of an active hurricane season in the Americas
Panama/Geneva, 31 May 2022 —The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is ramping up preparedness actions ahead of another above-average active Hurricane Season in the Atlantic Ocean. The IFRC urges governments and humanitarian stakeholders to protect lives by investing in early warning systems, forecast-based solutions, and coordinated disaster response plans.
From 1 June to 30 November 2022, North America, Central America, and the Caribbean expect between 14 to 21 named storms, of which six to 10 could become hurricanes, including three to six hurricanes of category three or higher. The IFRC and its network are working to ensure communities are better prepared to cope with the effects of heavy rains, landslides, and floods that these weather events may cause during the next six months.
Martha Keays, IFRC Regional Director for the Americas, said:
“The region may face up to six major hurricanes, but it takes just one single storm to destroy communities that are already grappling with poverty, inequality, and the devastating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Therefore, hundreds of local Red Cross teams in more than 20 countries are sharing early warning messages and coordinating preparedness measures with local governments and community leaders.
In parallel, the IFRC is combining weather forecasts with risk analysis to take early actions ahead of hurricanes rather than simply responding to events. This approach allows us to anticipate disasters, decrease their impact as much as possible, and prevent suffering and the loss of lives and livelihoods.”
The IFRC is paying special attention to the needs of women, children, migrants, and returnees, who are suffering from overlapping crises in Central America. This region is still recovering from the pandemic and hurricanes Eta and Iota, which left 1.5 million people displaced in Nicaragua, Honduras, and Guatemala alone.
In Colombia, Honduras, Guatemala and Haiti, vulnerable communities exposed to hurricanes and storms are also at highest risk of food insecurity due to the current global food shortage crisis.
In this challenging scenario, the IFRC is advocating for regulatory frameworks that favor the agile delivery of humanitarian aid to areas affected by disasters. It has also prepositioned humanitarian goods in Panama, Guatemala, Honduras and across the Caribbean to provide immediate response to the humanitarian needs for up to 60,000 people in both the Pacific and Atlantic coastal zones.
According to the Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Center, the 2022 hurricane season in the Atlantic, and the Caribbean Sea is predicted to be more active than normal due to the influence of the La Niña climate pattern. This phenomenon is active for the third consecutive year and causes sea temperatures in this basin to be above average. This condition allows for more active development of hurricanes, as seen in 2020 and 2021.
For more information, please contact:
Susana Arroyo Barrantes - Comms Manager Americas,[email protected]
María Victoria Langman - Senior Comms Officer Americas,[email protected]
Trevesa Da Silva - Comms Officer English & Dutch Caribbean, [email protected]
| Press release
IFRC, WWF call for global action to protect nature to save lives and address climate crisis
Stockholm, 2 June 2022 - A new report shows that nature-based solutions could reduce the intensity of climate and weather-related hazards by a staggering 26 per cent, in a world where over 3.3 billion people live in places that are highly vulnerable to climate change. The study from the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and WWF highlights how the power of nature to protect people is being overlooked.
The report, “Working with Nature to Protect People: How Nature-based Solutions Reduce Climate Change and Weather-Related Disasters” shows how nature-based solutions can reduce the likelihood of climate change and weather-related events occurring. It sets out how lives can be saved by working with nature-based solutions to prevent exposure to these hazards and support vulnerable communities in adapting to and withstanding the dangers of a warming world. For the first time, the analysis from IFRC and WWF shows that these solutions could provide developing countries with valuable protection against the economic cost of climate change, saving at least US$ 104 billion in 2030 and US$ 393 billion in 2050.
Communities in every region of the world are already experiencing worsening and increasing impacts of climate change, with vulnerable people in low resource countries the hardest hit, and women and children often the most exposed. From 2010 to 2019 alone, sudden-onset climate change and weather-related disasters killed more than 410,000 people.
Jagan Chapagain, IFRC Secretary General said: “The climate crisis is driving multiple humanitarian crises around the world. Its impact on the lives and livelihoods of millions of people is intensifying. Greening nature; restoring forests, farmlands and wetlands are some of the best and most cost-effective ways to support vulnerable communities to adapt to risks and impacts they already face. Protecting nature will protect people.”
Marco Lambertini, Director-General of WWF, said: “Let’s be clear. If we don’t urgently scale up efforts to limit the impacts of a warming world, more lives will be lost, and economies and livelihoods affected. Nature is our greatest ally and also a crucial buffer against climate change. By restoring and protecting it, we can help ecosystems build resilience and continue to provide crucial services to humanity and in particular to the more vulnerable communities.
“Nature-based solutions play a key role in addressing climate change, but the potential benefits of these solutions drop as the global temperature rises - which is why every moment and decision matters to cut emissions and give us the best chance to build a safer and more equitable future.”
Examples of effective nature-based solutions that address climate change include:
Conserving forests to restore degraded land, provide food, guard against droughts and protect communities from strong winds.
Restoring healthy floodplains and wetlands to reduce the impact of floods and promote sustainable agriculture to protect against droughts.
Restoring mangroves and coral reefs to provide a protective barrier from storms, soak up planet-warming carbon dioxide and provide food for local communities and habitats for marine life.
The report kickstarts a partnership between the IFRC and WWF. The report will be launched at Stockholm+50, a UN environmental meeting where leaders will reflect on 50 years of multilateral action. The partnership aims to raise awareness about nature-based solutions and encourage governments, communities, donors, practitioners and the private sector to incorporate nature in their climate adaptation and disaster risk reduction planning.
Notes for editors:
Nature-based solutions are actions to protect, sustainably manage and restore natural or modified ecosystems that address societal challenges and climate change effectively and adaptively, while providing benefits to human well-being and addressing biodiversity loss. Learn more here.
The full report is available for download here.
The report will be launched at an event at Stockholm+50 on 3 June at 13:00 CEST. This UN environmental meeting provides leaders with an opportunity to reflect on 50 years of multilateral action to deliver the bold and urgent progress needed to secure a better future on a healthy planet.
The report describes the enabling factors that have supported successful nature-based solutions initiatives and the challenges that are preventing the scale-up of these solutions. A series of case studies highlights IFRC and WWF’s work in the space, shows the potential of nature-based solutions, provides key lessons to guide practitioners in future implementation, and presents how supportive legal and policy frameworks are critical for scaling-up nature-based solutions for building climate and disaster resilience.
For media queries and interview requests, contact:
WWF International Media team: [email protected]
IFRC: Melis Figanmese, +41 79 202 2033, [email protected]
IFRC: Melissa Winkler, +41 76 240 0324, [email protected]
| 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
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
Global COVID-19 Summit: “World leaders must step up and ensure that everyone, everywhere has access to vaccines, tests and treatments.”
Geneva, 12 May 2022 - During the second Global COVID-19 Summit co-hosted by the White House, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies’ (IFRC) Secretary General Jagan Chapagain underlined the network’s commitment to delivering COVID-19 vaccines, tests and treatments to the most vulnerable and building back stronger health systems.
While many countries have successfully rolled out COVID-19 vaccination campaigns, vaccine coverage remains below 10 per cent in many low-income countries including, Papua New Guinea, Democratic Republic of Congo, Haiti or Madagascar. Low-income countries can also not afford tests and other lifesaving tools such as antiviral drugs or oxygen supplies, leaving millions at risk of contracting the virus and suffering its deadly consequences.
Mr. Chapagain said:
“World leaders must step up and ensure that everyone, everywhere has access to vaccines, tests and treatments. This means targeting those who are most vulnerable, have the greatest needs and are the hardest to reach. This pandemic is still spreading and killing people. It is too soon to drop our guard and give up our global efforts against COVID-19.”
Since the start of the pandemic, National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies have supported more than 400 million people to access COVID-19 vaccination and provided mental health support to over 13 million people in 152 countries. Because they are part of the very communities they serve, their role is also critical to building trust, informing communities about public health measures and boosting vaccine uptake.
For example, across Asia and the Pacific, millions of volunteers have helped tens of millions of people get vaccinated against COVID-19. Afghanistan has one of the world’s most fragile health systems and has vaccinated only 12% of its population with two doses. The Afghan Red Crescent has been operating a 50-bed hospital dedicated to COVID-19 patients and provided food or cash to more than 165,500 people. More than 1 million people were screened through their Mobile Health Teams and clinics in 2021.
In Namibia where only 16% of the population has been fully vaccinated, the Namibia Red Cross has led a “get vaccinated – kick COVID-19 out of Namibia” road show campaign. Red Cross volunteers walk through the streets in communities around the country, carrying signs, singing songs, and leading chants about vaccination. At COVID-19 vaccination sites, Red Cross volunteers also support registration for vaccination and data entry and provide basic first aid.
During the Summit, Mr. Chapagain expressed IFRC’s support to a pandemic financing mechanism that would allow community actors to access funding to strengthen community health systems and to increase their resilience to future health threats.
Mr. Chapagain said:
“We need to prepare for the next pandemic now. The world wasn’t ready for COVID-19, but we can be for the next pandemic. We must harness the lessons, successes and failures from the response to COVID-19 and build towards a future where communities are equipped to respond to the next health crisis.”
To request an interview or for more information, please contact:
In Washington: Marie Claudet +1 202 999 8689, [email protected]
Click here to discover more examples of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies' vaccination activities during COVID-19.
| Press release
Syria remains in crisis – the world, and donors, must not turn away now
With Syria now in its 11th year of unrelenting crisis, the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement again calls on the international community to not forget the continuing humanitarian needs in the country. Right now, people in Syria need continued solidarity and committed support in order to cope with ongoing hostilities, economic woes, crippled infrastructure, and immense humanitarian needs in the country. At present at least 14.6 million people need assistance and are more dependent on aid than ever before.
Humanitarian actors, including the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, provide a lifeline in response to enormous needs. Despite security challenges and political blockages, we are finding ways to repair critical infrastructure and make sure people have access to basic services such as clean water, electricity, and functioning health services. To be able to meet these humanitarian challenges, we need continued financial support from the international community.
The importance of support to continue vitally needed humanitarian action cannot be overstated. While much of the world’s attention has turned towards other crises, such as in Ukraine, millions remain in need in Syria.
"The armed conflict in Ukraine is adding another layer of challenge to the situation in Syria," said Fabrizio Carboni, ICRC’s regional director for Near and Middle East. "We’re worried about more food insecurity and ever-increasing prices. Even if the Ukraine conflict ended tomorrow the underlying impact of the climate crisis and the pressure this is putting on water resources and food production would still leave us with many issues to cope with.”
Our Movement has been responding to the needs of people in Syria since the first days of the conflict, with volunteers and staff providing vital aid to people in areas that others cannot reach. Without them, this humanitarian catastrophe would have been much worse. Each month, we assist millions of people inside Syria; for this life-saving work to continue, humanitarian workers must have sustained, safe, and non-politically motivated access to all people, families, and communities in need. We ask that States and all parties to the conflict ensure international humanitarian law is respected in their operations.
Dr. Hossam Elsharkawi, IFRC Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa said:
“We have seen with the Ukraine crisis how reducing restrictive measures on humanitarian activities has enabled our Movement to rapidly reach millions of people who need assistance, desperately. I call on donors, to apply the same flexibility to the Syrian context. Ideally, by extending the same humanitarian exemptions and licenses. This will create better conditions to minimize unnecessary suffering and bring dignity to affected people.”
Millions of Syrians living outside their homeland also continue to need support; neighbouring countries currently host the majority of people who have fled from violence in Syria. In Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, and Iraq, National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies are providing support to those who have fled, as well as the communities who host them. Countries in Europe have been implementing a wide range of activities to help Syrians integrate into their host communities, from offering psycho-social support programmes, to running reception centres, to facilitating reunification procedures with family members left behind.
For further information please contact:
ICRC: Jesus Serrano Redondo (Geneva), M +41 79 275 69 93, email:[email protected]
IFRC: Rana Sidani Cassou, M: +41 76 671 57 51 / +33 6 75 94 55 15, email:[email protected]
World Red Cross and Red Crescent Day: A message from our Movement
“Tutti Fratelli!” We are brothers and sisters, exclaimed the women of Castiglione after the devastating battle of Solferino in 1859.
With these very words, they sparked the flame of Humanity among the wounded and dying soldiers, while providing them with care and assistance, regardless of which side they had fought for. Their courage, compassion and kindness in saving lives and alleviating suffering amid the chaos of war inspired Henry Dunant, whose birthday anniversary and founding legacy of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement we celebrate today.
In the last two years, crises and disasters have spared almost no one. The COVID-19 pandemic, armed conflicts and violence, the climate crisis and climate-related disasters, environmental degradation, food insecurity and massive population displacements are hitting the world’s most vulnerable groups hard, and many lack the means and resources to adapt.
Against this backdrop, indifference, misinformation and hate speech are creeping into the common consciousness, which is fracturing and polarizing societies and leading to people being rejected and dehumanized.
Even those who champion the basic principles and rules of protection and assistance are not spared, with those who strive to provide care and support to people in need finding themselves the target of unjust and sometimes violent attacks. When the flame of Humanity flickers, we must be alarmed and we must act!
This 8 May is an opportunity for the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, our staff and 14 million volunteers worldwide to unite in our unwavering commitment to a common humanity. We also reaffirm our Fundamental Principles, which are at the heart of everything we do to assist people in need.
Our commitment mandates us to advocate for the world’s most vulnerable people, wherever they may be. When the outbreak of war or a disaster diverts the attention or generosity of the public, the media, public authorities and donors, it is to the disadvantage of millions of people affected by a protracted, forgotten or invisible humanitarian crisis.
Our Fundamental Principles carry the flame of Humanity across the world and its divides. They help to refocus the world’s attention on all people in distress. They are the basis of our solidarity with the Red Cross and Red Crescent volunteers and staff in action around the world. On this 8 May, we commend their admirable work and unwavering commitment as first responders in their communities.
Together, let’s spread the flame of Humanity and believe in the power of kindness.
Happy World Red Cross and Red Crescent Day to all!
Francesco Rocca, IFRC President
Mercedes Babé, Standing Commission Chair
Peter Maurer, ICRC President
The IFRC was created to bring kindness – and kindness is needed more than ever
“The world is bleeding, and it needs help now”.
Stark words of warning from a humanitarian leader shaken by a brutal war and living under the shadow of a global pandemic.
I did not pen these words. They were written in 1919, by Henry Davison, the leader of the American Red Cross.
His big idea was that the world’s Red Cross societies – which were set up after the movement was created by Nobel Laureate Henry Dunant in 1863 – should come together as a force for good at all times, and not only during wars. Davison firmly believed the kindness and expertise shown by Red Cross volunteers should benefit humanity in other times as well.
And thus, the League of Red Cross Societies was born, on the 5th of May 1919. There were five founding Red Cross Societies – those of the United States of America, Italy, Japan, France, and the United Kingdom. By the end of that year, the League had 30 members.
The League changed its name to the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies – the IFRC – in 1991. We now have 192 member National Societies, with more in formation.
The core of the idea has stayed the same while the scope of the IFRC network has grown massively, in reach and in impact.
In 2020, 14.9 million Red Cross and Red Crescent volunteers reached more than 688 million people with disaster and other emergency response work; some 306 million with health activities, and 125 million with clean water and sanitation assistance.
These are impressive figures, but the scale of the humanitarian needs continues to grow every year. Right now, countless people across the world need urgent support.
The conflict in Ukraine and the stress placed on its neighbouring countries is just one example. The lingering physical, social and economic damages inflicted by the global COVID-19 pandemic is another. Alongside these disasters is the ever-present, and worsening, threat of climate change.
With challenges like these, can a simple idea – like the one that led in 1919 to what is now known as the IFRC – still help to heal the world? I believe it can – and will. We know what works, and we’ve been proving it for more than a century.
It’s one human being reaching out to support another human being in crisis, at the community level, where it is always needed the most.
It’s ensuring that local volunteers and local organizations have the resources, training and as much (or as little) international support as they need to respond to disasters and crises. It’s making sure their voices are heard, and their interests represented, on the international stage.
And it is working to bring that support to the most marginalized communities and individuals, no matter where they are, and without any discrimination as to who they are.
It is – put simply – kindness.
I first joined my National Society, the Nepal Red Cross, as a volunteer more than three decades ago. I was trusted – and therefore able to meet and support the people in greatest need – because I was part of their community, I spoke their language, and I understood their concerns. And the key to understanding what people needed was kindness.
Over the years, the IFRC has evolved alongside the communities we support. We have adapted our ways of working, expanded our expertise as different vulnerabilities and stressors emerge, and have been agile enough to pioneer and then mainstream new approaches to humanitarian support.
We have led on the development and widespread acceptance of cash assistance as the most effective and most respectful way to support people in need. After all, people who have lost everything in a disaster or conflict should not have to lose their dignity as well.
And we are driving change in how disaster risks are managed and reduced through anticipatory action, where local communities are supported to reduce their risks, and immediate funding can be triggered once scientifically-measured thresholds are reached.
None of this work would be possible without the kindness of our 14.9 million Red Cross and Red Crescent community-based volunteers.
On World Red Cross and Red Crescent Day, 8th May, we will encourage people around the world to believe in the power of kindness and #BeHumanKIND.
The world is still bleeding. It still needs help. But there are nearly 15 million reasons to believe in kindness, and to have hope.
If you'd like to read more about the history of the IFRC, visit our history and archives page.
And check out the hashtag #BeHumanKIND across all social media channels this week to see how our National Societies are celebrating World Red Cross and Red Crescent Day.
| 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.”
| Press release
People affected by crises everywhere deserve same strong support provided to Ukraine response
Geneva, 6 April 2022 - The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) calls for solidarity with people affected by crises everywhere as the response to the conflict in Ukraine shows the way.
The support from people and donors around the world demonstrates what is possible and illustrates the good practice essential in any humanitarian crisis. At the same time, the massive differences depending on where a crisis occurs and who it affects have been thrown into stark relief.
Secretary General of the IFRC, Jagan Chapagain, says:
“The immense suffering experienced by so many people in Ukraine is unimaginable for some. Unfortunately, for many others around the world the loss and pain are all too familiar. In Syria for example, 11 years after the conflict began needs in the country are at an all-time high. In Tonga tens of communities are still to recover from the devastating volcanic eruption in January. In the horn of Africa millions of people are currently experiencing one of the most dramatic food crises in years, away from the eyes of the world. These are but a few examples. We call on donors and partners to ensure that we can support everyone in need, no matter where, no matter who.”
The situation in Ethiopia, Somalia and Kenya is critical as these countries are facing a fourth consecutive drought along with the impacts of COVID-19, conflict in the region and escalating food prices due to heavy reliance on wheat imports from Ukraine and Russia. With 14 million people currently in need of urgent food assistance - a number that is expected to reach 20 million this year – IFRC has launched emergency appeals for a total of 39 million Swiss francs to provide life-saving assistance. This also includes longer term support for sustainable livelihoods adapted to the increasing negative effects of climate change to help strengthen communities’ resilience.
Every day, in every community around the world, Red Cross and Red Crescent volunteers continue to respond with an impartial needs-based approach to people affected by crises everywhere, regardless of their status, nationality, ethnicity, religion or any other criteria. While National Societies are working hard to provide the humanitarian services necessary in Ukraine and surrounding countries, it is critical to ensure continuing focus on other crises as well as in preparing for those that will happen next.
“IFRC with its network of 192 National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies is well placed to channel solidarity and mobilize support to respond to all crises and disasters that are happening concurrently around the world. But to be able to do this, needs-based support and funding is essential," concluded Mr Chapagain.
IFRC currently has 29 emergency appeals open for big and complex disasters, from Afghanistan to Madagascar. For the increasing number of smaller climate-related disasters, the Disaster Response Emergency Fund (DREF) is the most efficient and transparent way to get funding directly to local humanitarian actors. At present, there are 42 active DREF funded responses around the world, including in Ethiopia, Palestine and Ecuador.
In Geneva: Anna Tuson, +41 79 895 6924, [email protected]
In Nairobi: Euloge Ishimwe +254 731 688 613, [email protected]
In Beirut: Rana Cassou +336 7594 5515, [email protected]
In Panama: Susana Arroyo +50 68 416 1771, [email protected]
In Kuala Lumpur: Antony Balmain +60 12 230 8451, [email protected]
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
Climate Change: Red Cross calls for more investments in local action as European and African leaders meet in Brussels
Nairobi, Kenya. 17 February 2022 – As parts of Southern Africa are reeling from the impacts of tropical storms and cyclones and other parts of the continent are facing severe droughts, the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is calling for urgent investment in local action to combat the effects of climate change. The call comes ahead of the 6th European Union-African Union (EU-AU) Summit which gets underway today in Brussels, Belgium.
Recently, tropical storm Ana in Mozambique, Malawi, and Madagascar, and cyclone Batsirai in Madagascar again, left hundreds of thousands of people displaced, homes destroyed, and infrastructure worth billions of dollars damaged. At the same time, humanitarian organizations in Africa warned this week of a catastrophic hunger crisis in the Horn of Africa (Kenya, Somalia and Ethiopia) where more than 20 million people are feared to face starvation because of prolonged drought. The Sahel and West Africa, particularly Nigeria, also face a deteriorating food security situation.
Mohammed Mukhier, the Regional Director for IFRC Africa said:
“What we are witnessing is a manifestation of the impact of climate change on the continent. We need to strengthen investments in local preventative measures that build people’s ability to cope with these intensifying disasters.”
Countries in Africa are only responsible for four per cent of global carbon emissions, and at the same time disproportionately affected by the widespread consequences of climate change and accelerated environmental degradation. Yet, climate financing pledged by world leaders is slow to reach the people on the ground who are most exposed to climate risks.
Ahead of the Summit, the IFRC calls for renewed efforts to build and implement a new Africa-EU Partnership that would answer to the needs of the most vulnerable people exposed to the impacts of climate change and the environmental crisis, strengthen food and health security and address forced migration. In the longer term, the role of local actors should be strengthened to support communities in building resilience and addressing humanitarian and development challenges on the continent.
Communities in Africa and elsewhere are also increasingly impacted by multiple hazards in addition to the changing climate, which are compounding their vulnerabilities and affecting their capacity to cope.
“Communities can hardly recover before they are hit by another disaster. Madagascar is a case in point where we saw a devastating drought last year, and before those effects could be relieved, some of those same communities have been impacted by cyclone Batsirai recently.” said Andoniaina Ratsimamanga, Secretary-General of the Malagasy Red Cross Society.
To support countries to cope, there is an urgent need to address underlying vulnerabilities in communities, including poverty and marginalization, and providing support to those most exposed to the impacts of climate change. At the same time, there is incredible potential that lies within the African continent to address these challenges, including innovative approaches by young people and women to issues such as land restoration and the use of digital platforms.
For more information, or to request an interview, please contact:
In Nairobi: Euloge Ishimwe, +254 735 437 906, [email protected]
In South Africa: Thandie Mwape, +27 66 486 8455, [email protected]