Cash and voucher assistance

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24/04/2023 | Article

Ukraine one year on: seven things to know about the ongoing humanitarian crisis

1. Millions of refugees are still adjusting to life in a new country Since 24 February 2022, more than 8 million people have fled Ukraine to seek safety abroad. Forced to leave everything behind, and unable to safely return to their homes, they’re still trying to adapt to their new “normality”. That’s one year of fear, sorrow, uncertainty, separation from friends and family, and worrying about the people and homes left behind. For the past 12 months, the IFRC, along with 58 Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, has been working in Ukraine and the wider region to provide essential aid to people fleeing the country—including women, children, older people, and people with disabilities—and to help them integrate in their new communities. 2. Millions of internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Ukraine are still in need of basic assistance The displacement of more than 5.3 million people within Ukraine remains a staggering humanitarian crisis. Many of these people fled their homes with only the clothes they were wearing and are still staying with relatives or host families, in collective shelters or rented apartments. Working together with the Ukrainian Red Cross Society, the IFRC network has been there from the very beginning, providing crucial relief items to those who need them. While the initial shock of displacement may have subsided, the need for ongoing support and assistance remains critical. 3. Some people have returned to their homes, but rebuilding their former lives is a daunting challenge Despite ongoing hostilities, more than 5.5 million people have chosen to return to their homes—whether from abroad or within Ukraine. Many of their houses, however, have been damaged or destroyed. The cost of rebuilding or repairing them can be prohibitively expensive, and many families simply cannot afford the materials or labour needed to make their homes habitable again. Members of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement are providing vital support to people in Ukraine, including assistance with rent and utility payments, refurbishment of collective centres hosting IDPs and of individual housing, and providing building materials for home restoration. However, many people, particularly those in frontline areas, are still suffering. 4. The significant toll on people’s mental health remains The ongoing conflict has had a devastating impact on the mental well-being of people inside and outside of the country. Many have lost loved ones, homes and livelihoods. People—including children—have been uprooted from their communities. The long-term uncertainty and instability are weighing heavy on so many people’s minds. The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement has provided psychosocial support to more than 328,000 people this past year. While this is a significant achievement, there are still so many more people who need a listening ear and professional support for their mental health. 5. For many, access to medical services is limited The World Health Organization (WHO) has reported more than 700 attacks targeting health facilities in Ukraine since February 2022. Many hospitals and medical facilities have been either destroyed or severely damaged, leaving people—especially those living near the front lines—with little or no access to medical services when they need it most. The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement continues to provide basic medicines and medical equipment to health facilities across Ukraine. Together, we’ve launched nearly 100 mobile medical units, providing vital medical care to people living in hard-to-reach areas throughout the country. The IFRC is funding a health centre in the city of Uzhhorod, run by the Ukrainian Red Cross, which provides essential healthcare services to vulnerable people and IDPs. And funding from our Emergency Appeal is also helping the Ukrainian Red Cross to provide home-based care and rehabilitation services to older people, those with disabilities, and wounded veterans. 6. The country's energy infrastructure has been severely damaged While the cold season has now ended, and the energy provision within Ukraine somewhat restored, social and health institutions across Ukraine continue to face the threat of recurrent power shortages. These facilities, particularly those in frontline areas, often suffer from electricity cuts, depriving the local population of basic services. The IFRC has already delivered 130 high-power generators to Ukraine over the course of the last winter. However, the country still needs further support to ensure the basic delivery of public services for millions of people affected by the conflict. 7. The country's economy has been severely affected In 2022, Ukraine experienced a staggering 35% decrease in GDP and a shocking 30% annual inflation rate. This means that families across the country are struggling with skyrocketing food and rent costs. For many households, savings have been all but depleted, leaving people in a state of financial hardship and uncertainty. National Societies in Ukraine and the surrounding region, supported by the IFRC, have been running several cash assistance programmes to help the most vulnerable get by. The crisis is ongoing: what comes next? Though this crisis has slipped from the headlines, the world cannot forget what’s happening in Ukraine. This past year, our Movement has worked tirelessly to support people affected in Ukraine and beyond. But despite our efforts, the scale of this crisis demands more, and continued, support and attention. Thanks to its auxiliary role and permanent presence in Ukraine, the Ukrainian Red Cross is best positioned to support affected people now and long into the future. The IFRC network will continue to support the Ukrainian Red Cross and the people affected, as long they need us. -- Click here to access the IFRC’s recently revised emergency appeal for Ukraine and impacted countries. And if you would like to support our life-saving work, please donate to our appeal here.

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28/02/2023 | Press release

Six months on: Pakistan’s receding floodwaters reveal the need for prolonged support

Islamabad/Sindh, 28 February 2023 – The need for longer-term economic support for people who lost their homes, livelihoods, and livestock across Pakistan due to the catastrophic floods six months ago becomes pressing amid global and local economic turndown, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) warns. In order to address the flood’s impact, the IFRC and Pakistan Red Crescent Society have launched cash and voucher assistance to meet the urgent needs of the people most at-risk, delivering more than CHF 420,000 to 5,600 families so far. This cash assistance will enable families to meet their immediate needs, such as food, livelihood, and other essential needs. “We understand that needs are still immense in the aftermath of the severe floods, and they will remain like this for a while as the damage is massive. We are supporting communities with cash, but it’s important to acknowledge that this aid is a short-term bridge for urgent needs. Escalating inflation and a stagnant economy don’t allow the cash to stretch as far as people need,” Peter (Piwi) Ophoff, head of the IFRC delegation in Pakistan, said. “Longer term cash support to people impacted by these devastating floods will stimulate local markets, which can help economic recovery,” Ophoff added. From June to August last year, extreme monsoon rainfall submerged one-third of Pakistan, affecting 33 million people across the country. The monsoon floods ravaged a staggering 2.2 million houses leaving hundreds of thousands of people homeless. Families were forced to take refuge on roadsides in makeshift shelters when the country’s main Indus River burst its banks across thousands of square kilometres. The IFRC's emergency appeal has reached almost 1.3 million people with relief items, shelter, health, water, sanitation, hygiene kits, and multipurpose cash assistance over the past six months. Pakistan Red Crescent Society has the capacity and knowledge to assist disaster-affected populations through cash and voucher assistance, a dignified, reliable and efficient ways using a swift disbursement mechanism. Pakistan Red Crescent Society chairman, Sardar Shahid Ahmed Laghari remarked: "There are still millions of people on the ground who are looking for help, and we need support from national as well as international communities to help as many lives as possible so that they can meet their urgent needs and resume their livelihoods in a way that maintains dignity, freedom, choice and respect," Laghari said. IFRC’s multipurpose cash transfer program aims to help the affected people to rebuild their lives. But the skyrocketing inflation rates only add to the already volatile situation. To survive through this, continued support is required for the emergency appeal launched in September, as it is still underfunded even after six months. The devastating floods that heavily damaged residential properties, infrastructure, and other assets, led over a million livestock to perish and left large swathes of agricultural land uncultivable, resulting in the exponential loss of income and livelihoods for millions of people. The damage created due to floods exacerbated by climate change pushed already economically disadvantaged communities further towards poverty, making the available aid fall short of meeting the increasing needs of people amid an economic recession. Responding to the acute needs of people affected by the 2022 floods within the first six months, the IFRC emergency operation is now shifting its focus to meeting the longer-term recovery needs of affected communities. To achieve this, the main priorities include reinforcing access to safe water and sanitation facilities, rehabilitating basic health units, and launching livelihoods and multipurpose cash assistance programs. Cash assistance is one critical approach that helps responders better put the needs and capacities of affected people at the heart of humanitarian action. It enables communities to decide how to cover essential needs like rent, transport, bills, food, and medicine. For more information, please contact: [email protected] In Islamabad: Irem Karakaya, +92 308 555 0065 Sher Zaman, +92 304 103 0469 In Kuala Lumpur: Afhrill Rances, +60 19 271 3641 In Geneva: Jenelle Eli, +1 202 603 6803

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06/12/2022 | Press release

IFRC partners with the Muslim World League to support humanitarian objectives

Geneva, 6 December 2022 – The IFRC is honoured to announce its partnership with the Muslim World League (MWL) to support humanitarian objectives. The agreement between the IFRC and MWL creates a broad mandate for the humanitarian work and objectives of both organizations. It establishes important objectives to assist those impacted by the international armed conflict in Ukraine. These objectives include, but are not limited to: Providing financial assistance for displaced people to support their basic needs Providing shelter to those who left their homes and those whose homes were damaged or destroyed Providing water, sanitation, hygiene, and health assistance Strengthening National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies’ response capacities The agreement between the IFRC and MWL also seeks to support migrants and displaced people from disasters and crises in other regions. This humanitarian support includes: Food and non-food items Emergency shelter Water, sanitation, and hygiene Health, including mental health support Restoring families broken apart Child protection Prevention of sexual and gender-based violence Rescue operations Anti-human-trafficking activities The promotion of social cohesion between people on the move and host communities Supporting migrants and host communities to enhance livelihoods, community-based resilience, and economic and social reintegration The agreement also sets the goal of cooperation around innovative financing structures and activities, including Shariah compliant fundraising tools. "We are confident that the new partnership with the Muslim World League will be significant, in order to reach those impacted by disasters and crises around the world.Our joint commitment to humanity and humanitarian action will be strengthened by this collaboration,"said IFRC Secretary General, Jagan Chapagain. “Cooperation among international organizations such as the Muslim World League and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies is crucial to achieving our humanitarian goals,”said MWL Secretary General, His Excellency Sheikh Dr. Mohammed Al-Issa. “The Muslim World League is honoured to work alongside the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies to bring humanitarian aid to those impacted by the international armed conflict in Ukraine and to support migrants and displaced people,” he continued.

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06/09/2022 | Article

Nigeria hunger crisis: Creative ways to improve nutrition

Many countries in Africa are facing the worst food crisis in decades. The consequences are greatest for women and children, with many mothers currently fighting to protect their kids from malnutrition. In Nigeria, one of the IFRC’s 12 priority countries in our hunger crisis response, the Nigerian Red Cross and IFRC are using creative ways to help parents keep their children healthy and fed. Let's take a look at three of them. Mothers’ Clubs Mothers’ clubs are safe spaces for women to come together and support one another through the successes and struggles of motherhood. The idea started in Ghana in the 1970s and has since spread all around the world. These days there’s a growing emphasis on involving men and supporting their equally vital role in raising children. Nigerian Red Cross volunteers have set up 140 of these Mothers' Clubs in 7 north-western states of Nigeria, allowing parents to meet and receive information on nutrition, breastfeeding, and proper infant care. They’re a way of providing health education to parents on how to best look after their newborns, how to breastfeed properly, and how to improve hygiene and care—all in a friendly and supportive environment. When her child became affected by oedema, a serious manifestation of the symptoms of malnutrition, Amina, a member of one of the Mothers’ Clubs, turned to the Nigerian Red Cross for help: "My child had been sick for some time, and I didn't know it was serious, or even that he was malnourished, until they [Red Cross volunteers] came to my house to screen him. Today, thanks to the awareness-raising activities and my membership of the clubs, I can take better care of my children and advise the women in my community on good practices”. Cash and voucher assistance Many households in Nasarawa State are facing severe food shortages due to the drought that is ravaging the region. Sadiya, a mother of one who is struggling to feed herself and her son, says, "I cannot eat or prepare food for my son on a regular basis because the land hardly produces anything." Similarly, another woman in Niger State highlights how the rising cost of living, especially rising food prices, prevents her from providing a good dinner for her family: "My child has not been breastfed properly because there are not enough nutritious meals available in the market for me. And even when they are available, they are unaffordable." To address this, the IFRC is currently providing vouchers to breastfeeding mothers through its Cash Transfer programme. "I was one of the mothers supported by the Red Cross Society. I received 10,000 naira, which enabled me to buy food for my family." she adds. The cash transfer programme is designed to support low-income families to cope with the pressures of inflation so that they can provide for the multiple needs of the household and therefore the children. Giving cash to the people we support is an effective, efficient and transparent way of providing humanitarian assistance to the most vulnerable. It ensures that people have the freedom, dignity and independence to decide on their own recovery. Home visits to fill gaps in health services Several health centres are understaffed, and some have been closed due to increasing insecurity, making it difficult for malnourished children to access even basic health care. The women and members of the mothers' clubs conduct home visits and screen malnourished children by measuring the circumference of their arms. Any child suffering from malnutrition is then registered on a referral card, designed by the Nigerian Red Cross, and referred to a health centre for further treatment. These home visits are minimizing the burden on stretched health services and making sure that children are being regularly screened and supported when they need it. ___________ In response to the food crisis in the north-east and north-west of Nigeria, the IFRC launched an emergency appeal for over CHF 4,000,000 to help people cope. Click here to donate today to support this life-saving work.

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15/08/2022 | Press release

Afghanistan: Unending crises driving millions to breaking point

Kuala Lumpur/Kabul/Geneva 15 August – The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is renewing its call for increased global solidarity with the people of Afghanistan who continue to face immense humanitarian need. Simultaneous crises in the country have caused some of the worst suffering in recent generations. A cocktail of disasters and crises has battered the country for more than a year now, with new shocks worsening conditions that were already dire. In late June, an earthquake struck south-East Afghanistan killing more than 1,000 people and destroying or damaging homes of 60,000 households leaving them exposed to the elements. Starting July into August, off-season rains brought floods that washed away livelihoods and aggravated humanitarian needs across more than 20 provinces. Mawlawi Mutiul Haq Khales, Afghan Red Crescent Acting President, said: "The past 12 months have been extremely difficult for our people as economic hardship, exacerbated by sanctions-related limitations to access income, piles pressure on millions who were already battling acute food insecurity, poverty, and many other shocks. "We, in Afghan Red Crescent, have scaled up our response operation in every province and our extensive network of volunteers continues to deliver assistance which is really a lifeline particularly to those excluded even from the most basic support, especially widows and their children. "Contributions from our local and international partners have been critical, and we are truly grateful. We are asking for continued support because millions of our people will rely on long term humanitarian interventions to meet their very basic needs." With the support of the IFRC and other partners, the Afghan Red Crescent response operation has so far reached more than 150,000 households with food assistance and at least 15,000 households with cash distributions. Its more than 140 health facilities, among them mobile health teams, also continue to provide primary health services including routine immunizations across Afghanistan. Humanitarian assistance needs to be sustained. Necephor Mghendi, IFRC's Head of Delegation for Afghanistan, said: "The people of Afghanistan cannot be forgotten. This is now one of the worst humanitarian crises in the world, with over 20 million people remaining in need of urgent assistance." "As the world's largest humanitarian network, we are responding in many ways to help aid vulnerable communities. IFRC continues to support the Afghan Red Crescent in its humanitarian efforts, but the succession of crises and disasters is driving millions to breaking point, resulting in a massive humanitarian need that is putting immense strain on the availability of resources. "Winter is coming, and we are worried that lives could be lost if we do not act early enough to alleviate conditions for people whose coping capacities are weakened by multiple shocks." The IFRC and Afghan Red Crescent are ramping up preparedness for a potentially harsh winter, which will be upon the country in a few months. The greatest concern is high-altitude areas where temperatures are very likely to drop below minus-10 degrees. Procurement of winter clothing, winter boots, thermal blankets, heating stoves and other essentials is underway in readiness. To support the Afghan Red Crescent, the IFRC has appealed to the international community for 90 million Swiss francs to deliver urgent humanitarian aid to more than 1 million people affected by multiple crises. Winter preparedness forms a critical part of the plan. To arrange an interview, get access to audio-visuals, or for more information, contact: Asia Pacific Office: Rachel Punitha, +60-197-913-830, [email protected] Asia Pacific Office: Joe Cropp, +61 491 743 089, [email protected]

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03/08/2022 | Article

Niger: Urgent action needed as hunger grips communities

It is early in the morning on a hot day of July 2022. Long queues of people are seen in the courtyard of the primary school of Gorou Kirey, in a remote suburb of Niamey, the capital of Niger. The site is hosting a Niger Red Cross cash distribution operation for communities affected by the hunger crisis in the country. Boubacar Alzouma, a 76-year-old farmer, was among the first people to arrive. “I was not going to miss this, as there was nothing to prepare at home today,” says Boubacar, leaning on his walking stick for support. “It's embarrassing to say this, but there are days when we have nothing to eat at home,” he continues. Last year’s poor harvests due to erratic rainfall have brought Boubacar’s family to the brink of starvation. He was only able to harvest two bags of food from his 2-hectare field of millet, sorghum and cowpeas—insufficient to feed his 21 children. To cope with the hunger situation, Boubacar had made the difficult decision to sell all his livestock. “Our biggest hope is to have good rainfall this year. Otherwise, it will be a disaster again,” he says. After receiving cash from the Niger Red Cross, Boubacar rushed to buy food. Had it not been for this assistance, his family would have gone to bed hungry. The hunger crisis has affected 4.4 million people in Niger and is a result of the combined effects of climate shocks and insecurity. Boubacar’s story speaks for many. To help people cope, the Niger Red Cross has provided nearly 6,000 affected households across the country with cash assistance since May, supported by the IFRC and other partners from the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement. Assistance also includes food parcels in some areas and livestock feed to help farming families protect their livelihoods. The Niger Red Cross is also setting up community nutrition centres to screen and refer malnourished children to health centres. But more needs to be done to prevent the situation from worsening. “A rapid and strengthened response is needed to save lives, as the early lean season has pushed many families to the breaking point,” says Thierry Balloy, Head of IFRC Cluster Delegation in Niger. The scale of the hunger crisis prompted the IFRC to launch an emergency appeal for five million Swiss francs in May to support the Niger Red Cross in assisting 283,000 people (40,547 families). Money raised will be used to provide cash, nutrition and livelihoods support to the most vulnerable people, as well as long term resilience-building solutions. But as of July 2022, the appeal is only 30% funded. Boubacar’s future, and the futures of many other farmers like him in Niger, remains uncertain. But despite the challenges he and his family face, he remains hopeful: “If I receive a second grant and the next harvests are good, I will buy cattle. This will help us cope with the next difficult lean season,” says Boubacar.

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23/05/2022 | Article

IFRC scales up cash assistance to people impacted by conflict in Ukraine

Three months into the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) has distributed financial assistance totalling more than 4.3 million Swiss francs to thousands of people on the move. IFRC Head of Emergency Operations for the Ukraine response, Anne Katherine Moore, said: “The longer the conflict continues, the greater the needs become. The cost of basic necessities, such as fresh fruit and vegetables, is rising. Increases in the cost of fuel and apartment rentals are also being reported. Millions of people have lost their jobs and their savings are dwindling. Through a new mobile app, we have been able to ramp up our support to help people facing these financial challenges.” The new technology makes it possible for the IFRC and responding National Societies to reach people at scale and to deliver cash assistance digitally. Successfully introduced in Romania, the mobile app allows refugees to self-register for assistance online, negating the need and cost involved of having to travel to a central location. The app will soon be expanded to Poland and Slovakia, where cash assistance is already being provided through more traditional methods such as in-person registration, as well as Ukraine and other neighbouring countries. “This is the fastest we have ever delivered cash at this scale. It has the potential to be a game-changer for our work not just in this response, but also in future operations,” Moore continued. Cash assistance is a dignified and efficient way to support people impacted by the conflict, allowing them to purchase items specific to their individual needs, while also supporting local economies. It is one part of our integrated and wide-ranging Red Cross and Red Crescent response to the conflict that also includes the provision of health care, first aid, psychosocial support and the distribution of basic household necessities. Speaking about next steps, Moore said: “There is no short-term solution to the needs of the more than 14 million people who have been forced to flee their homes. We know that even if the conflict was to end tomorrow, rebuilding and recovery will take years. People have lost their homes, their livelihoods, and access to timely healthcare. The IFRC, in support of local National Red Cross Societies in the region, will be there helping people now, and in the months and years to come.” -- Watch: our response 3 months on During the past three months: Together, we have reached more than 2.1million people with life-saving aid within Ukraine and in surrounding countries. This is 1 in 10 people who had to flee their homes because of the conflict. Along the travel routes within and outside Ukraine, we've set up 142 Humanitarian Service Points in 15 countries to provide those fleeing with a safe environment. There, they receive essential services like food, hygiene items, blankets, clothing water, first aid, psychosocial support, information, and financial assistance. In total, we distributed 2.3 million kilograms of aid. 71,000 Red Cross and Red Crescent volunteers are responding to the crisis.

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14/04/2022 | Press release

IFRC to support more than 2 million people affected by the conflict in Ukraine with its largest ever rollout of emergency cash assistance

Geneva, 14 April 2022 – As the needs of people impacted by the conflict in Ukraine continue to grow, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is scaling up its response activities to meet immediate and urgent needs, both inside Ukraine and within the countries people have fled to seeking safety. Secretary General of the IFRC, Jagan Chapagain, says: “This will be IFRC’s most extensive emergency cash programme. Our number one priority is getting support to people who are most vulnerable. From our previous experience with cash assistance, we know it is a dignified approach to providing aid as quickly and efficiently as possible. While financial assistance is a major component of our response, we’re also scaling up across many other sectors including health. We have already reached 160,000 people with healthcare and first aid support, but the longer the conflict continues, the more extensive the health needs will become.” In its largest emergency financial assistance programme to date, IFRC aims to reach more than 2 million people with support, targeting 360,000 people in Ukraine and neighbouring countries within the first three months. Longer-term financial assistance will address the needs of affected people as the crisis evolves. IFRC Regional Director for Europe Birgitte Bischoff Ebbesen, says: “With every day that passes, we know vulnerabilities increase. Access to medical supplies, food, water, utilities, and other vital goods and services deteriorates. We know there are so many uncertainties for people right now, but one thing that’s clear is the needs are immense, and they will be for a long time.” IFRC is supporting more than 1 million people with over 1,800 metric tonnes of hygiene and kitchen items, blankets, food, mats and tarpaulins in Ukraine and surrounding countries. The IFRC Secretariat with its member National Societies have launched a Federation-wide response plan for 1.2 billion Swiss francs, which aims to assist 3.6 million people over two years, with multi-purpose cash assistance, health & care and water, sanitation and hygiene services, as well as shelter and housing support. Globally, more than 55 National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies have supported the response to date. The IFRC Secretariat is supporting this response plan by appealing for 550 million Swiss francs to scale up support to National Societies in Ukraine and neighbouring countries. Media contacts: In Ukraine: Caroline Haga, +358 50 5980500, [email protected] In Poland: Jenelle Eli, +1 202 603-6803, [email protected] In Romania: Angela Hill, +40 758 450 185, [email protected] In Budapest: Nicole Robicheau, +36 30 167 2629, [email protected] In Budapest: Kathy Mueller, +1 226 376-4013 [email protected] In Geneva: Anna Tuson, +41 79 895 6924, [email protected] Learn more about the IFRC's work in cash and voucher assistance here.

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30/03/2022 | Press release

Launch of ambitious partnership between IFRC and EU: a new model for the humanitarian sector

Brussels/Geneva, 30 March 2022 - An ambitious partnership between the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and the Directorate-General for European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (DG ECHO) launched today aims to be a new model for the humanitarian sector. In response to the increasing number of crises arising worldwide, the pilot Programmatic Partnership “Accelerating Local Action in Humanitarian and Health Crises” aims to support local action in addressing humanitarian and health crises across at least 25 countries with a multi-year EU funding allocation. The partnership strengthens mutual strategic priorities and is built around five pillars of intervention: disaster preparedness/risk management; epidemic and pandemic preparedness and response; humanitarian assistance and protection to people on the move; cash and voucher assistance; risk communication, community engagement and accountability. European Commissioner for Crisis Management, Janez Lenarčič said: “I welcome with great hope the Pilot Programmatic Partnership with IFRC, a trusted EU partner who shares our vision of implementing efficient and effective humanitarian aid operations worldwide. The funding allocated for this partnership reaffirms the EU commitment to help meet the growing needs of vulnerable people across some 25 countries, in close cooperation with the Red Cross and Red Crescent National Societies. It also confirms our commitment to strategic partnerships with humanitarian aid organizations.” IFRC Secretary General Jagan Chapagain said: “Longer-term, strategic partnerships are essential to respond to the escalation of humanitarian crises around the world. We must respond rapidly, we must respond at scale, and we must modernize our approach to make impact. We know that the most effective and sustainable humanitarian support is that which is locally led, puts communities at the heart of the action, and is resourced through flexible, long-term and predictable partnership. The pilot Programmatic Partnership allows exactly that.” The Programme will begin with an inception phase in several countries in Latin America, West and Central Africa and Yemen. The main objective is to provide essential assistance to those currently affected by humanitarian crises, the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, climate-related disasters and conflict and to prevent loss of lives and suffering. Investment is also made to ensure communities are better prepared to cope with disasters through the implementation of disaster preparedness and risk reduction components. Working closely with its National Societies, the IFRC’s global reach combined with local action, its long history of community-driven humanitarian work and its Fundamental Principles, make it the partner of choice for this Pilot Programmatic Partnership with the EU. Following the first phase of implementation, the Programme aims to expand its reach and include additional countries around the world with the support of more EU National Societies. Key facts The 10 countries of implementation in the inception phase are: Burkina Faso, Chad, Cameroon, Mali, Niger, Yemen, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Panama. The seven National Societies from the EU working to support the implementation of the inception phase are: Belgian Red Cross (FR), Danish Red Cross, French Red Cross, German Red Cross, Italian Red Cross, Luxembourg Red Cross and Spanish Red Cross. For more information In Brussels: Federica Cuccia, [email protected] In Geneva: Anna Tuson, [email protected], +41 79 895 6924

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18/01/2022 | Press release

#PowerToBe campaign launches to help shift perceptions of refugees

Ankara/Berlin, 18 January 2022 -The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) has launched a campaign to tackle negative perceptions of refugees at an increasingly critical time across Europe. The #PowerToBe campaign follows four passionate Syrians living in Turkey – Hiba, a musician, Eslam, an illustrator, Ibrahim, a swimmer and Mohammed, a coffee lover – who are regaining control of their lives through the help of monthly cash assistance funded by the EU, ultimately giving them more power to be themselves. The four protagonists each meet digitally with influential people from Germany, Italy, Sweden, Turkey, Portugal and Poland who share a common passion for music, art, water sports and coffee. The campaign shows how people from all walks of life can connect with one another at eye-level despite differences in language or backgrounds. In the #PowerToBe campaign, fifteen-year-old drawer Eslam speaks to well-known German illustrator Steffen Kraft, Italian street artist and painter Alice Pasquini and Swedish street artist Johan Karlgren about her passion for illustration. “Drawing a lot helped me to show the world, even if only a little, what happened in Syria,” Eslam said. Ibrahim, who became paralyzed during the conflict in Syria, connects with Polish professional high diver, Kris Kolanus about the freedom and boundlessness they both feel in the ocean. “Even though many things can hinder me, I am trying to do something. For next year, I’m preparing myself to swim the competition across the Bosporus.” Mohammed, a father of two, talks to Turkish coffee bean suppliers Hasibe and Ümit about his passion and memories associated with coffee. “When we came to Turkey to an empty house, we had nothing at all. Some Turkish brothers helped us, gave us some furniture.” They tasted his coffee and told him it was “the best they’ve ever had”. Hiba, who now attends a music school in Istanbul, connected with Portuguese singer-songwriter April Ivy, whom she wrote and sang a song with. “I like to give people hope because whatever struggles we go through, there are actually nice things happening as well,” Hiba says. Turkey is currently home to the world’s largest refugee population with almost four million who are trying to rebuild their lives. About 3.7 million of those are Syrians who fled the conflict that has devastated their country. Funded by the European Union, the Emergency Social Safety Net (ESSN) is the biggest humanitarian programme in the history of the EU and provides monthly cash assistance via debit cards to nearly 1.5 million vulnerable refugees in Turkey. The ESSN is implemented by the Turkish Red Crescent and the IFRC in coordination with the Government of Turkey. The cash assistance helps give refugees some relief from an exceptionally challenging year where many are facing deepening debt and poverty due to the secondary impacts of COVID-19. Cash assistance helps give people like Hiba, Eslam, Mohammed and Ibrahim freedom and dignity to decide for themselves how to cover essential needs like rent, transport, bills, food, and medicine. At the same time, it provides the opportunity to invest back into communities that host them, supporting the local Turkish economy. This year we have seen vulnerable refugee communities slip further into hardships, but we also see their hope and strength. Through this campaign, we wanted to highlight the contributions and resilience they have despite all the challenges. When given the right support, refugees’ potential is endless. Jagan Chapagain IFRC Secretary General Hiba, Eslam, Ibrahim and Mohammed were forced to leave everything behind, but have held on to their dreams and continued to pursue them with passion. The ESSN programme offers a critical lifeline to them and 1.5 million other vulnerable refugees in Turkey, many of whom have been especially hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic. We are proud to see the tangible difference it makes by giving them the opportunity to make choices for their lives. Janez Lenarčič EU Commissioner for Crisis Management More information Click here to download more information about the #PowerToBe campaign, including short backgrounds on each of the people receiving ESSN assistance and the influencers taking part. You can also visit the #PowerToBe website and learn more about the ESSN on our website here. To arrange interviews, please contact: In Berlin: Samantha Hendricks (Social Social), +49 1577 495 8901, [email protected] In Turkey: Nisa Çetin (Turkish Red Crescent), +90 554 830 31 14, [email protected] In Turkey: Corrie Butler (IFRC), +90 539 857 51 98, [email protected] In Turkey: Lisa Hastert (ECHO), +90 533 412 56 63. [email protected]

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25/01/2022 | Article

Cash and livelihoods: a winning combination for long-term sustainability and support to refugees

By Deniz Kacmaz, IFRC Turkey, Livelihood Officer Turkey is hosting the largest refugee population in the world. More than 3.7 million Syrians have sought refuge as well as 330,000 under international protection and those seeking asylum, including Iraqis, Afghans, Iranians, Somalis, among others. With the conflict in Syria now entering its twelfth year with few signs of change, means that we are not just looking at a humanitarian emergency anymore, but on long-term resilience. Since the refugee influx began in Turkey, the Turkish Red Crescent (Türk Kızılay) has been taking a leading role in the response. As of April 2020, Turkish Red Crescent through its KIZILAYKART platform and IFRC run the largest humanitarian cash programme in the world, the Emergency Social Safety Net (ESSN), funded by the EU. This programme has helped more than 1.5 million cover some of their most basic needs, covering their groceries, rent and utilities, medicine and their children's school supplies. But humanitarian emergency cash assistance can only go so far. There is also a need to focus on longer-term resilience. This is why we are working on both the urgent needs of refugees, while also supporting longer-term livelihood opportunities for refugees and host communities. From humanitarian cash to longer-term resilience We are working on both the urgent needs of refugees, while also supporting longer-term livelihood opportunities for refugees and host communities. This means being part of the labour market to meet their own needs and rebuild their life without depending on social assistance, including the ESSN. We must focus on long-term solutions where refugees, supported by the ESSN, gain their power to stand on their feet and become self-reliant again. I have been working at IFRC Turkey Delegation for almost two years helping identify gaps and find opportunities to empower people's socio-economic capacities. This approach helps ensure they are resilient in combating challenges in the future, including the devastating socio-economic impacts brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic and general obstacles around employment opportunities. We have seen in many contexts when refugees are able to build their resilience and self-sufficiency, they can contribute even more meaningfully to the local economy. When they benefit, we all benefit, including host communities. What are we doing to bring this long-term solution to the lives of refugees? As of April 2021, we have launched referrals that link people receiving cash assistance through ESSN with a plethora of livelihood trainings and opportunities in Turkish Red Crescent community centres. The 19 community centres across Turkey offer support to both refugee and host communities, including work permit support, vocational courses such as sewing; mask producing; various agricultural trainings; and Turkish language courses and skills trainings. These services are critical to breaking barriers in the local markets. The community centres connect skilled individuals to relevant job opportunities by coordinating with public institutions and other livelihood sector representatives. The ESSN cash assistance provides support to refugees in the short term while giving them opportunities to learn new skills, which can lead to income generation in the long term. How do we conduct referrals from the ESSN to livelihoods? There are many sources where families are identified for referrals, some of the most common are: Turkish Red Crescent (Türk Kızılay) Service Centre 168 Kızılay Call Centre Direct e-mail address to the TRC referral and outreach team Identified potential individuals among ESSN protection cases Field teams including monitoring and evaluation and referral and outreach teams who are regularly engaging with those benefitting from ESSN In the first months of combining cash assistance with longer-term programmes, we have supported more than 1,000 refugees. Some have been referred to employment supports including consultancy for employment and work permit support, while others are attending language courses, vocational trainings, and skills development courses through public institutions, NGOs, UN agencies and TRC’s community centres. Though we have developed a robust livelihood referral system, collectively, we need to make stronger investments in social economic empowerment in the future. While we continue to work on improving our programming and referral mechanisms, as IFRC, we are also reaching out to agencies, civil society, donors, and authorities tolook at how we can: increase investment in socio-economic empowerment in Turkey, mitigate barriers to employment for refugees, and create greater synergies between humanitarian and development interventions. It is this collective effort that will deliver the longer-term gains necessary for both refugee and local communities in Turkey to thrive. -- The ESSN is the largest humanitarian cash assistance program in the world, and it is funded by the European Union. The ESSN has been implemented nationwide in Turkey in coordination and collaboration with the Turkish Red Crescent and International Federation of Red Cross and Crescent Societies (IFRC). We reach more than 1.5 million refugees in Turkey through the ESSN, and we give cash assistance to the most vulnerable populations to make sure they meet their basic needs and live a dignified life. The Turkish Red Crescent with its 19 community centres throughout Turkey supports millions of refugees as well as host communities. The Centres provide several courses, vocational trainings, social cohesion activities, health, psychosocial support, and protection services, among others.

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16/12/2021 | Article

Southern Madagascar: Cash gives food insecure communities a glimpse of hope

In remote areas of southern Madagascar, vulnerable households go into debt buying food and basic needs due to drought and poverty, paying double the price for rice due to transportation costs. The Malagasy Red Cross with the support of IFRC and partners, have been providing cash for food and basic needs to the vulnerable households in the Commune of Ambatoabo from July 2021. The process of identification and registration of beneficiaries for this operation was made up of two complementary stages: a survey carried out by the Malagasy Red Cross volunteers and the validation of the results by the community itself through the committees. Among 2,249 families validated by the community, there was Longonay Berthora’s household. At only 15 years, Berthora has been supporting himself and his brother for the past two years, in the absence of his mother who remarried and is now living in another village. While studying at the local public primary school, Berthora tries to make ends meet by doing different activities including rice growing, charcoal production, and quarrying for mica - a type of mineral which has a commercial value. In October, he used part of the cash to pay for wages, as he employs people to cultivate rice on his field. The rice produced is for his consumption and for sale, locally. Berthora is working hard to achieve his goals, “My dream is to become a prison officer, and I wish that my little brother becomes a doctor” he spoke.

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02/12/2021 | Press release

€325 million boost to EU’s largest ever humanitarian programme, reaching 1.5 million vulnerable refugees in Turkey

Thursday, 2 December: Ankara, Turkey - More than 1.5 million refugees in Turkey will continue receiving critical support thanks to a €325 million boost from the EU’s largest humanitarian cash programme, the Emergency Social Safety Net (ESSN), in partnership with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), and the Turkish Red Crescent Society in close coordination with the Government of Turkey. In a press conference today in Ankara, Turkey, Janez Lenarčič, EU Commissioner for Crisis Management said: “Thanks to new EU funds announced today, we will be able to continue the ESSN programme throughout 2022. This support is a critical lifeline for thousands of families, many of whom have been especially hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic. This cash assistance enables them to decide for themselves what they need most urgently, whilst contributing to the Turkish economy.” Turkey currently hosts the largest refugee population in the world, many of which are Syrians. The ESSN has been providing monthly financial assistance via the “Kizilaykart” debit card since 2016, helping families cover their most essential needs, such as food, rent, transport and medicine. The additional funds from the European Commission will continue until early 2023. Refugee families currently receive 155 Turkish Lira (about €10) monthly per person with additional quarterly top-ups based on family size, enabling them to decide for themselves how to cover what they need while contributing to the local Turkish economy. The cash assistance, which is aligned with the existing Turkish safety net, currently supports around one-third of the vulnerable refugee population in the country. Jagan Chapagain, IFRC Secretary General said: “We are seeing the destructive secondary impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly for those most vulnerable, including refugees. We’ve heard from families who are making impossible decisions – between covering their bills, feeding their families, or keeping their children in school. Now more than ever, this cash assistance is critical – it is a lifeline for so many.” New research from Turkish Red Crescent and IFRC has shown that debt levels among refugees in Turkey have more than doubled since the COVID-19 pandemic began with just under half of those surveyed not having an acceptable food consumption, a 20 per cent increase in the last year. The cash assistance from the ESSN is providing an important buffer, with one in two people saying it has helped them manage their debt. Dr. Kerem Kınık, President of Turkish Red Crescent said: “Many vulnerable groups are facing one of their most difficult years, living in hard conditions. Many have come to Turkey for safety. Continued support to the ESSN will ensure families can keep a roof over their children's heads, feed their families and help them get through these difficult times.” AV materials Photos from the visit Additional b-roll on the ESSN programme Background European Union: The European Union and its Member States are the world’s leading donor of humanitarian aid. Relief assistance is an expression of European solidarity with people in need all around the world. It aims to save lives, prevent and alleviate human suffering, and safeguard the integrity and human dignity of populations affected by disasters and crises. Through its Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations department (ECHO), the European Union helps millions of victims of conflict and disasters every year. With headquarters in Brussels and a global network of field offices, the EU provides assistance to the most vulnerable people on the basis of humanitarian needs. The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is the world’s largest humanitarian organization, reaching 150 million people in 192 National Societies, including Turkish Red Crescent, through the work of 13.7 million volunteers. The IFRC acts before, during and after disasters to meet the needs and improve the lives of vulnerable people. The IFRC has been leading large-scale cash programmes for decades in response to a broad spectrum of disasters around the globe. The Turkish Red Crescent (Türk Kızılay) is the largest humanitarian organization in Turkey, helping vulnerable people in and out of disasters for years, both in the country and abroad. Since 2012, the TRC has been providing first-line response to the refugee influx, supporting millions of people in camps and urban settings. Through their leading cash team and the “Kizilaykart” debit card, the TRC supports millions of vulnerable refugees and Turkish communities to cover their basic needs. The Turkish Red Crescent, IFRC and EU work in coordination with the Government of Turkey and its Ministry of Family and Social Services. The Government of Turkey is an important partner of the Emergency Social Safety Net programme, which is linked to the existing social system in Turkey. The country hosts the world’s largest number of refugees, and the Turkish Government plays a leading role, with regards to the response to the Syria crisis. For more information or to arrange an interview: European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations: Lisa Hastert, +905334125663, [email protected] IFRC: Corrie Butler, +90 539 8575198, [email protected] Turkish Red Crescent: Nisa Çetin, +90 554 8303114, [email protected]

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24/11/2021 | Article

Hope restored: Red Cross helps thousands across Caribbean through COVID-19 livelihood recovery programme

Kingston, Jamaica, 24 November 2021: After 20 months of the COVID-19 pandemic, the socioeconomic consequences of the virus have added to the devastating loss of lives and the severe impact on public health systems. In 2020, about 209 million people fell into poverty in the Americas region, a figure not seen since 2008. The income, savings and livelihoods of the most vulnerable families have declined, with many facing hunger, exclusion and unequal access to COVID-19 vaccines. This is evidenced in “Drowning just below the surface: the socioeconomic consequences of COVID-19,” a global study by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) that analyzes how women, migrants and inhabitants in precarious urban contexts have had the worst of it. The Caribbean is one region that has suffered greatly from the socioeconomic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. When the pandemic started affecting the Caribbean in early 2020, many countries resorted to COVID-19 lockdowns and restrictions to help curb the spread of the disease, resulting in the livelihoods of many people across the Caribbean being critically impacted. Jobs related to tourism were severely affected In Jamaica, workers in the tourism industry - a major source of income for the country – were among those who felt the impact the most. Oneil Atland, a river raft captain at the Carbarita River in the parish of Westmoreland, is among several rafters who offer river rafting services – a popular tourist attraction which allows guests to relax on a bamboo raft along the river and enjoy the scenery while learning about the rich history and culture of the country. “Things were great before the coronavirus, we had even built an area for rafters and guests to relax. However, since the coronavirus, we have been experiencing a downfall,” said Atland. With the COVID-19 lockdowns and restrictions on the island, tourist arrivals dropped drastically, which left Atland, and many others like him who provide tourist services, without their only means of income. In the neighbouring parish of St. Elizabeth, shrimp vendors who sell packaged peppered shrimps in Middle Quarters - a frequently visited tourist location - were also affected by the COVID-19 lockdowns and restrictions. “I started doing shrimp vending to help my elderly mother, but then I realized it was an opportunity to earn additional income which I could save and use to send my children to university. Since COVID-19 however, business has been bad as the tourists who used to pass by our shops and purchase shrimps, were no longer visiting the island,” said shrimp vendor, Natasha Malcom Williams. The Jamaica Red Cross (JRC), with support from IFRC, provided cash cards to 524 persons so far, helping to supplement their income and, in some cases, allowing them to purchase supplies needed to resume their business. Kevin Douglas, JRC Emergency Services Manager said “some rafters were able to purchase supplies to fix their rafts which became water-logged due to inactivity, and some of the vendors used the money received from the Red Cross to venture into other sources of income, such as selling fruits to community members.” In St. Lucia, women were similarly affected “COVID-19 disrupted the income of a lot of community members in Anse LaRaye, as many of them work in the hotel industry and became unemployed and could no longer care for their family members; some couldn’t even pay their rent,” said Diana Gabriel from the St. Lucia Red Cross. “It’s been very difficult. I’ve been out of a job since March 2020 and I have been searching for a job, but most companies aren’t hiring much anymore because not many tourists are visiting St. Lucia,” said Cassandra David, hotel worker and mother of three children. “Thanks to the Red Cross for helping me so I could provide for my kids,” she continued. Supported by IFRC, the St. Lucia Red Cross provided cash cards, supermarket vouchers and food packages to over 3300 affected families and also issued mosquito nets and insect repellants to help prevent the spread of dengue, another health issue which St. Lucia has also been tackling. Vicky Kenville, one of the recipients of the supermarket vouchers, said her entire family was affected by COVID-19 and in addition, her husband had met in a motor vehicle accident which made it even more difficult for her family. “I was so excited for the voucher from the Red Cross. When I went to the supermarket, every time I put an item in the trolley, I would smile and say if it wasn’t for the Red Cross, I wouldn’t be here shopping, because with none of us working due to COVID, it was very difficult to buy necessities,” said Kenville, who expressed gratitude for the Red Cross support which she said helped her overcome some of the difficulties her family faced due to loss of income. In Grenada, the Red Cross provided over 200 families from all parishes across the island with supermarket vouchers. Cindy Lewis, COVID-19 Project Manager with the Grenada Red Cross said that “with the supermarket vouchers, beneficiaries are able to shop directly for what they need and this gives them a feeling of independence.” Education sector also severely impacted The tourism industry wasn’t the only sector impacted by COVID-19. With most schools closed due to restrictions, and teachers and students resorting to online schooling, school gate vendors across Jamaica also lost their income, when they could no longer ply their wares in front of the school compound. “Since COVID-19, I haven’t been able to sell anymore because schools are closed and it has been very rough, because even though I try to hustle otherwise, it’s still not enough,” said Nadine Wray, school vendor and mother of four children, who noted that her children were not able to do online schooling because of lack of devices and internet. “The cash from the Red Cross is very timely,” she added. The IFRC network has reached over 200,000 people in eleven countries across the Dutch-and English-speaking Caribbean through provision of cash and vouchers, food and other in-kind assistance as well as skills development for livelihoods, among other interventions. The evidence confirms that these initiatives helped to contain the rise in poverty. Nasir Khan, IFRC Operations Coordinator for the Dutch and English-speaking Caribbean said: “We understand the severe hardships faced by many across the Caribbean due to COVID-19, and moreover some of these families were already dealing with overlapping emergencies. Through the livelihood recovery programme, we are able to help those who lost their income because of COVID-19, so they can have some level of hope and dignity and be empowered to keep moving forward despite the circumstances. We are very grateful to all our donors who have contributed to the COVID-19 Emergency Appeal, enabling us to reach those most vulnerable. However, the task is not over yet. The pandemic is still impacting millions of people across the globe, so it is important that we continue our combined efforts to make a real difference in their lives.” For more information, please contact: In Jamaica: Trevesa DaSilva, +876 818 8575, [email protected] In Panama: Susana Arroyo Barrantes, +506 8416 1771, [email protected] In Colombia: David Quijano, +57 3105592559, [email protected]

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12/03/2021 | Basic page

Cash and voucher assistance

Giving cash to people affected by disasters is an effective, efficient and transparent way of providing humanitarian assistance to the most vulnerable. It ensures people have the freedom, dignity and independence to decide on their own recovery.

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11/05/2021 | Article

“I can buy diapers for my disabled son thanks to the Azerbaijan Red Crescent’s cash support”

By Hanifi Kınacı “My dear son Fuad is my day and night, my life. He wakes up at 4 in the morning, and says: ‘Mom, take me on your lap’. I rest a little bit and prepare breakfast, as my daughters have to follow online lessons due to the COVID-19 pandemic.” Şiriyeva Rəxşəndə is one of the nearly 1,000 people who have received financial assistance from the Azerbaijan Red Crescent Society through a project to help vulnerable families heavily affected by the COVID-19 pandemic meet their basic needs. It has been a historic milestone, the first time the organization has provided humanitarian aid through cash and vouchers. This has been possible thanks to the emergency appeal the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) launched to support those most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Very strong, full of compassion and energy, Rəxşəndə welcomed us into their home. It was almost impossible not to be captivated after entering the house, as all the walls were covered in colourful paintings. Amid lockdowns and confinements, one felt in a different land in each of those images. When asked who the author was, she pointed proudly to the gentleman sitting quietly in the corner:“My husband.” “These pieces of art and his imagination are our source of income,”she added. Rəxşəndə underlined that she is“a happy, hopeful mother of three children regardless of the hardships that life brings.”She has two daughters who are currently studying and a son, Fuad, who is disabled. He needs adult diapers, and she had to go into debt to be able to buy them at the market. The COVID-19 pandemic made the situation worse. Like millions of people around the world, Rəxşəndə, her husband and one of their daughters got infected by the virus. They recovered quickly, but were confronted with more problems. “Our social relations were naturally affected: no visitors, no passers-by. And I have hernia, gained weight and couldn’t carry Fuad anymore, so he could only take my arm. Restrictions and curfew were another challenge, especially for shopping,”she said. Her main concern were adult diapers, vital for her son and a great ease for her. The constantly increasing price of these essential items worried her. Furthermore, she and her husband had take a loan to get a computer so that one of their daughters could attend her virtual classes. In normal times, they could earn a living and make ends meet even if Fuad’s special needs were demanding. With the COVID-19 pandemic, they faced additional difficulties and new expenses.“As we only had Fuad’s disability pension and my husband’s, we were not able to pay off the bank credit,”she explained. The cash assistance provided by the Azerbaijan Red Crescent Society came right in time: Rəxşəndə was able to close all her debts in the market and buy diapers, purchase other necessities and even take care of the installments of the loan they had requested and which they used to get her daughter’s computer. While we were talking, her husband got up and took his canvas. Mother and son hugged each other. Despite all the challenges of life, of time, they are firmly together and blissful. Rəxşəndə’s story underlines the importance of cash and voucher assistance in the humanitarian sphere, as this aid modality offers a dignified way for people to prioritize their needs and spend money accordingly. “When Fuad has diapers and his favourite oat-flakes, I am the happiest person in this world and I don’t need anything else,”highlighted Rəxşəndə.

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26/02/2021 | Article

“I am not one voice. I am the voice of refugees”: Here’s what one inspiring young Syrian wants you to know

Hi, my name is Reyan. I have many plans for my life and my future, for the world. I want to live a life full of happiness. I want to help every child… Reyan Reyan is a painter, writer and poet. Although she uses different mediums, the story in each poem, text and painting talks about one thing: her home country Syria. The 18-year-old young woman has been through a lot; a war, loss of her loved ones, and destitution. The pain, distress and hardship can be easily seen in her drawings and words on a frequent basis. However, her determination, strength and hope are also there. The young and promising artist wants to accomplish a lot in the face of the darkness that fills her art sketchbooks and notebooks. As the Syrian war approaches the 10-year mark, here is a letter in her own words, what she wants you to know: “I am hearing a voice calling me from afar: “Girl, get up, the darkness is getting stronger and fills the country. Get up. Come on, do not give in. The darkness is getting worse. Injustice has begun. The war has eaten us with an unknown mouth. Rise up and raise your voice for the right to peace. Do not be afraid. We are with you. We all want peace; we all want our rights.” I am not one voice; I am all your voices. I am us and you are me. Let us end the darkness and let the light begin again to unleash it. I am a simple girl; I aspire simple things. Despite darkness, injustice, poverty and oppression, despite everything, I just want you to help me reach my voice. I want injustice, bullying, poverty to stop. I want peace for us. I want to defend all our rights to end the black war. An inner voice expresses my story, pain and patience. I could have told you about my story, but my story is a story of a story: homeland.” Like Reyan, many people have had to find refuge from the Syrian war and taken shelter in neighbouring countries. Funded by the EU Humanitarian Aid, the Emergency Social Safety Net (ESSN) cash assistance is helping 1.8 million refugees in Turkey to have much-needed stability by covering their most essential needs so that they can fulfil their dreams. -- This article covers humanitarian aid activities implemented with the financial assistance of the European Union. The views expressed herein should not be taken, in any way, to reflect the official opinion of the European Union, and the European Commission is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information it contains.

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22/02/2021 | Article

From borrowing money to independence: Refugee family becomes debt-free with cash assistance

Ömer Eddağavi and his family have been living on unstable income since arriving in Turkey six years ago after fleeing conflict in Syria.Relying on seasonal work on farms, forced Eddağavi to borrow money from relatives and friends when there was no job to feed his family.“It is so hard to be dependent on debts when you are responsible for a crowded family. Because you don’t know if you will be able to borrow money next time,” said Eddağavi.However, since the day they started to receive the monthly cash assistance offered by the IFRC and the Turkish Red Crescent, with funding from the European Union, Eddağavi and his family broke the vicious cycle of debt to stay afloat.“Thanks to god, we can live without being in debt and pay our bills,” said Eddağavi.More about the Emergency Social Safety Net (ESSN)  Funded by the European Union’s Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO), IFRC and Turkish Red Crescent are providing monthly cash assistance via debit cards to the most vulnerable refugees in Turkey under the ESSN programme. This is the largest humanitarian programme in the history of the EU and the largest programme ever implemented by the IFRC.ESSN is providing cash to the most vulnerable refugee families living in Turkey. Every month, they receive 120 Turkish Lira (18 euros), enabling them to decide for themselves how to cover essential needs like rent, transport, bills, food, and medicine.*This story was originally published on Turkish Red Crescent’s kizilaykart.org website and adapted by the IFRC.This article covers humanitarian aid activities implemented with the financial assistance of the European Union. The views expressed herein should not be taken, in any way, to reflect the official opinion of the European Union, and the European Commission is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information it contains.

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03/12/2020 | Article

4 months since the Beirut explosion: Lebanese Red Cross Secretary-General explains the situation now

On the 4th of August, a massive explosion occurred in the port area of Beirut, capital of Lebanon, injuring more than 6500 people and affecting the lives of hundreds of thousands. Four months later, a lot has been done but the work is far from finished. Secretary-General of the Lebanese Red Cross (LRC), Georges Kettaneh, what are the needs of the affected people four months after the explosions? People need three things: cash, health services and reconstruction of their houses. We are supporting with the minor repairs and providing cash assistance to the families assessed to be in the most vulnerable situation. We continue the lead in the ambulance services and blood transfusions. We are active in primary health care services, providing mental health support, restoring family links and dead body management. We are also responding to the COVID-19 pandemic in many ways. How was the situation when the explosion happened on the 4th of August? We had, and still have, an emergency contingency plan to manage unset emergencies. But the Beirut Port explosion was something we had not prepared for or even imagined in our wildest risk assessment exercises. We acknowledge that the humanitarian needs were too big for us to manage completely. In 2 minutes, the blast caused devastation beyond imagination. People lost their lives, homes, loved ones. When we went to the streets to assess the needs, we found bodies of people laying on the ground. We started our needs assessment as soon as possible to have the data that helped us to set priorities. Many people left their houses that were destroyed so we could not reach them. Now, they are coming back to us asking to be included. We had to evacuate people affected by COVID-19 and other patients from the destroyed hospitals to the ones that remained functional, either in Beirut or outside the capital. How is the mental health of the Lebanese Red Cross staff and volunteers? We Lebanese often like to project a positive image about ourselves pretending that we are doing fine. But in reality, we have been shaken to the bones. Our volunteers and staff need psychological support as all Lebanese people do. Personally, I went through many challenging situations throughout my 20-year career as a humanitarian. During the war in Lebanon, I evacuated 21 bodies in 1986 in an explosion in Northern Beirut. I was kidnapped many times. I was under fire from snipers several times. All of this affected me for sure. But the Beirut explosion has been by far the most difficult thing to witness. When the blast took place, people called me on my mobile screaming that they were injured pleading me to evacuate them. We mobilized all the ambulances and volunteers we could, even the retired ones. Some of the ambulances were not able to reach people because the roads were blocked by the rubble. Paramedics were hearing injured screaming under the rubble of their houses but they were not able to reach them. As a humanitarian, this is your scariest nightmare.This affected me a lot. Some of my acquaintances and friends died. We all need mental health support in this situation, and the Lebanese Red Cross is doing as much as possible to provide it to everyone willing to receive it. What have you learned from the explosion and the response operation? The explosions were a force majeure. We were not prepared for such a thing. We didn’t envisage an explosion in the port. We were fully stretched by the COVID-19 as well as in providing first-aid, COVID-19 awareness and responding otherwise to the demonstrations in various parts of the country. No matter how overwhelmed we might be, we should always be prepared for the worse. Another learning we got when we started to distribute relief item boxes. At first, we had 400 boxes but only 100 people showed up at the collection points. The community members that were affected by the blast, did not come to the street to receive the relief items they urgently needed. Culturally, coming to the public for the aid was hard for them. We realized we need to adjust our approach to fit the sensitivities of the community. We decided to distribute the relief items from door-to-door even if it meant more work for us. Then, people were very happy to receive the aid as their dignity was intact. Does the Lebanese Red Cross have enough resources to help the people in need? We have gotten enough donations to provide cash assistance for 10,000 families. We are providing 300 US dollars per month to the most vulnerable affected families to cover their basic needs. You can read more about the cash assistance on the Lebanese Red Cross website. The demand would go beyond the 10,000 families but we don’t have resources for more. We are thankful for all the donations and support we have received from IFRC, ICRC and Partnering National Societies as well as other partners. We have worked together as one in the response to the explosion. From the Lebanese diaspora and companies, we have received more than 20 million USD as they regarded us as a neutral and trusted organization. What comes to the economic crisis in Lebanon, we don’t have enough for responding to that in long term. For example, we need to provide livelihood support and shelter for the people, including the Syrian refugees. In this situation, being transparent and accountable is crucial. Therefore, we have hired an international audit company to monitor our performance and to be as transparent as possible. Key figures 3,741 Individuals treated & transported by ambulance 14,499 individuals received primary health support 13,895 blood units distributed to hospitals 22,001 households with 110,005 individuals received food parcels & hygiene kits 49,127 door-to-door household assessments completed 6,019 individuals affected by COVID-19 transported 16,437 individuals received psycho-social support 9,744 vulnerable families received cash assistance Appeal Update The Lebanese Red Cross launched an appeal for 19 million USD to continue providing emergency medical services and relief operations during the first three months. IFRC, in support of LRC plan, has appealed for 20 million Swiss francs (21.8 million US dollars) to scale up health, shelter and livelihood support over the coming 24 months. Read more on the Lebanon Red Cross website. Media contacts: In Beirut: Rana Sidani Cassou, +961 71802779, [email protected]

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30/11/2020 | Article

COVID-19: an opportunity to challenge our traditional way of working with communities

By Sevde Nur Söylemez COVID-19 has challenged our approach as humanitarians – how can we still support the most vulnerable while still keeping people safe from this pandemic? For Turkey, we’ve learned to challenge our traditional way of supporting communities and have adapted – even reinvented some of the ways we do things. I have worked for the Turkish Red Crescent for more than 2 years now, supporting the world’s largest humanitarian cash programme, the Emergency Social Safety Net (ESSN) with the IFRC and funding from the European Union. This programme supports 1.8 million refugees living in Turkey with monthly cash assistance to help them buy the things they need most. One of the most critical parts of our job is engaging with the communities we help, to hear people’s perceptions, so we can respond better to their needs. One of the best ways to do this is through focus group discussions - a crucial research tool that provides richer experiences and ideas from people who are generally coming from similar backgrounds. No matter the condition, never stop the communication Without the same opportunity to have these face-to-face interactions, we came up with a different innovative approach - remote focus group discussions, which had never been done in the programme before. Its key findings are fundamental to better understand the current struggles and situations refugees are facing during the pandemic all while keeping them safe from the spread of COVID-19. Findings: The devastating impacts of COVID-19 I heard many heart-breaking stories of refugees, trying to make ends meet. In most households, the sole breadwinner lost their jobs due to the pandemic. COVID-19’s effect has also had severe mental health impacts – families are more isolated as visits between neighbours, friends and relatives are limited. In addition, the children have some challenges in accessing the online curriculum. Among the things people shared, these quotes stuck out for me: “I used to have a grocery store, but I had to close it.” “It affected us and our jobs. I couldn’t work for three months” “I don’t have neighbours but I have many relatives here. My daughter was in the hospital for 12 days. No one could come because they were afraid.” Nevertheless, when they talk about the situation, we could see the hope and expectation of a better future. Many told us how the ESSN cash assistance has been a lifeline and that it would have been even harder without it. How did we conduct the remote focus group discussions? The Turkish Red Crescent has a call centre, an important source of information for people we help. We utilized this to call families to confirm their participation in the discussion. We go to the household and meet the participant, ensure written consent and hand them a mobile phone that they use to connect online to a digital focus group discussion, hosted by the Turkish Red Crescent. Field staff were on standby to help if any problem occurs with the connection or device while they were in the session. During the discussion, if there are any issues we identify it and take or refer the case immediately to our other relevant teams. Fewer participants, more expression Across Turkey, we conducted 26 focus group discussions, between four to six participants attending each. Groups were also broken down between men and women. We found we could reach and include the elderly and people with disabilities without inconvenience. This gave us a greater opportunity to hear and understand their opinions and made the bond between us even stronger. Whenever we arrive in communities, we are welcomed. Although we have physical distance between us – at least 1,5 meters – our faces hidden behind masks, we can still feel the warm smiles. The pandemic may have changed the way we approach our work, but the connection between us and participants has never stopped, there is always a way. -- This article covers humanitarian aid activities implemented with the financial assistance of the European Union. The views expressed herein should not be taken, in any way, to reflect the official opinion of the European Union, and the European Commission is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information it contains.

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23/11/2020 | Article

“It means continuity of life during the winter”: Cash programme supporting basic needs for refugee families

When the Syrian war started to risk their lives in 2014, Abdülhalik Şemmo fled Al-Hasakah with his family and arrived in Turkey’s south-eastern province of Mardin, then moved to Ankara’s Beypazarı district, hoping to have more job opportunities. However, due to the seasonal employment’s being widespread in the district, Şemmo struggled to have a permanent income. “In winter time, there are almost no jobs here,” said Abdülhalik, who is providing for his eight-member family. Thanks to a monthly cash assistance programme Emergency Social Safety Net (ESSN) provided by the IFRC and the Turkish Red Crescent, his family is able to meet their survival needs when the job opportunities are scarce. “It means the continuity of life to us in winter. We can pay our rent, utility bills and other needs,” said Abdülhalik. “It means hope for our children’s future.” More about the Emergency Social Safety Net (ESSN) Funded by the European Union’s Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO), IFRC and Turkish Red Crescent are providing monthly cash assistance via debit cards to the most vulnerable refugees in Turkey under the ESSN programme. This is the largest humanitarian programme in the history of the EU and the largest programme ever implemented by the IFRC. ESSN is providing cash to the most vulnerable refugee families living in Turkey. Every month, they receive 120 Turkish Lira (18 euros), enabling them to decide for themselves how to cover essential needs like rent, transport, bills, food, and medicine. *This story was originally published on Turkish Red Crescent’s kizilaykart.org website and adapted by the IFRC. This article covers humanitarian aid activities implemented with the financial assistance of the European Union. The views expressed herein should not be taken, in any way, to reflect the official opinion of the European Union, and the European Commission is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information it contains.

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30/09/2020 | Article

Cash assistance in Turkey helps refugee families invest in language skills for a chance at a better life

Before the everlasting war in Syria, Sabit El Hacco used to grow wheat on his own farm. However, when he fled conflict in 2016 and arrived in Turkey, the conditions drastically changed for him and his family. El Hacco continued to work as a farmer but this time seasonally on other family’s lands, oftentimes struggling to make ends meet. “We used to cultivate our own fields back at home, growing wheat. Here, when there is an opportunity, we continue to work as farmers. However, there are no jobs in winter,” said El Hacco. Living with his family of 12 in a shanty house located in Ankara’s Beypazarı district, famous for its agriculture, El Hacco tries to do what he knows best to be able to provide for his 10 children. However, without speaking the local language, securing a stable income stands as a challenge. “Without speaking the language, the job opportunities are very limited. For this reason, I applied to the district governorship’s Turkish language course,” said El Hacco. El Hacco began receiving monthly cash assistance from Turkish Red Crescent through the Emergency Social Safety Net (ESSN) programme in coordination with the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent (IFRC) and funded by the EU. It allowed Sabit to focus on learning the local language and re-establishing his life in Turkey without worrying about his family’s day-to-day needs. “We wouldn’t be able to afford shelter to be under or even take care of our children without Kızılaykart,” said El Hacco. “ESSN means being free of debts, having a shelter, having a life to us,” he adds. More about the Emergency Social Safety Net (ESSN) programme Funded by the European Union’s Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO), IFRC and Turkish Red Crescent are providing monthly cash assistance via debit cards to the most vulnerable refugees in Turkey under the ESSN programme. This is the largest humanitarian programme in the history of the EU and the largest programme ever implemented by the IFRC. ESSN is providing cash to the most vulnerable refugee families living in Turkey. Every month, they receive 120 Turkish Lira (18 euros), enabling them to decide for themselves how to cover essential needs like rent, transport, bills, food, and medicine. *This story was originally published on Turkish Red Crescent’s kizilaykart.org website and adapted by the IFRC. This article covers humanitarian aid activities implemented with the financial assistance of the European Union. The views expressed herein should not be taken, in any way, to reflect the official opinion of the European Union, and the European Commission is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information it contains.

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16/09/2020 | Article

Giving back after receiving help through difficult times: Syrian refugee offers helping hand to vulnerable people

"Yardim seven ol" means "be someone who loves helping" in Turkish. This is a mantra that Kevser, a Syrian refugee in Turkey, lives by. While trying to rebuild her own life after fleeing conflict in Syria, she works as a volunteer at the Turkish Red Crescent to help vulnerable people in the community. Like the rest of the world, COVID-19 has had a severe impact on Kevser and her family, as well as many other refugees who are particularly vulnerable. Spending three months in lockdown, her husband was not able to work and their debts ballooned. They were able to help pay their debts through cash assistance from the Emergency Social Safety Net (ESSN), which provides monthly cash assistance to more than 1.7 million refugees in Turkey, funded by the European Union and implemented by the Turkish Red Crescent and IFRC. Additional cash assistance over the last two months was provided to families, like Kevser’s to help ease the socio-economic burden brought on by COVID-19. However, this hasn’t stopped her from helping refugees like her and other people in need in the community – it has only helped fuel her. Kevser has been a volunteer at the Turkish Red Crescent’s Community Center, funded by the EU, in Ankara’s Altındağ district for two years, visiting vulnerable households, informing people in need about available resources and referring them to related services when necessary. “We are giving a range of seminars, such as understanding the law in Turkey, their rights, how to go to a hospital, family and children’s health, and the available in-kind assistance for those in need,” Kevser said. Kevser’s volunteerism started back in Syria when she saw the unfolding violence around her in Damascus. She received first aid training and worked in hospitals while training others to become first responders. “I wanted to do something for people, for whomever got wounded,” said Kevser. Kevser and her family decided to leave Syria in 2015 when a bomb landed on their home. “We had a beautiful life in Syria. I had my own business in Damascus. My kids were going to school, my husband was working. We lost everything during the war. We came to Turkey and started from zero,” Kevser said, adding: “It was a hard decision that we made for our children.” Starting a life from scratch, finding a job while still learning the language in a foreign country was tough for her family. The support from the Turkish Red Crescent – both through the ESSN cash assistance and language training in the community centres, became a lifeline. “The assistance has been crucial for us to pay the rent and bills, as my husband is not able to find jobs all the time,” she said. “Without assistance, our life would be very difficult. Turkish Red Crescent changed our life. Iattended courses, became more active, I feel powerful,” Kevser added. Learning the local language changed everything in her life, Kevser says. Her relationship with her neighbours improved, she attended vocational courses, she was able to go to the hospital on her own. It also gave her a chance to give back to the Turkish community as a volunteer. "God willing, I will work, everything will be better," she said. -- ESSN is providing cash to the most vulnerable refugee families living in Turkey. Every month, more than 1.7 million refugees receive 120 Turkish Lira (13.5 euros) via prepaid debit cards, enabling them to decide for themselves how to cover essential needs like rent, transport, bills, food, and medicine. Turkish Red Crescent’s Community Centres support Syrian refugees and host communities to increase livelihoods, resilience and self-reliance, provide community-based health and first aid and give psychosocial support. Centres are funded by European Union Regional Trust Fund (EUTF) in Response to the Syrian Crisis, the MADAD Fund. This article covers humanitarian aid activities implemented with the financial assistance of the European Union. The views expressed herein should not be taken, in any way, to reflect the official opinion of the European Union, and the European Commission is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information it contains.

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24/08/2020 | Article

Engaging 1.7 million refugees in the face of COVID-19: Lessons from Turkey

By Lotte Ruppert COVID-19 does not discriminate, but the pandemic has disproportionately impacted certain vulnerable communities. Migrants and refugees face particularly large risks, due to language barriers, limited access to public services and a larger reliance on informal labour. Each has diverse perceptions, fears and opinions that we, as a humanitarian community, must address if we want to see this pandemic end. For Turkey, a country that hosts the largest refugee population in the world (over 4 million from places like Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq and Iran), this presents a unique challenge. How do you engage people with diverse languages, cultures and communication preferences, all while adhering to strict movement restrictions to curb the pandemic? Despite the impressive efforts from governmental and humanitarian actors, our impact assessment from April 2020 showed that almost one-quarter (23 per cent) of refugee households did not feel like they were receiving enough reliable information about COVID-19. In response, Turkish Red Crescent and IFRC have ramped up their efforts to listen and engage with refugees in Turkey during the COVID-19 outbreak. Here are three lessons we learned about how to engage with communities at a large scale through the EU-funded Emergency Social Safety Net (ESSN), the largest cash programme globally. Lesson 1: Use a wide variety of communication channels Everyone communicates differently. In ESSN, we rely on a range of different channels to allow people to speak with us in a way that they prefer and trust, including Facebook, regular SMSs and our toll-free Call Centre, where all operators have been trained to respond to COVID-19 related concerns and to provide hygiene advice or updates related to ESSN. But these remote communication channels are not enough. Refugees in Turkey have expressed their preference to share more sensitive concerns and complaints during private face-to-face conversations. Our nine Service Centres, spread across Turkey, have remained fully operational in order to provide information and support to people during the COVID-19 outbreak, with robust measures to ensure the safety of both its staff and visitors. This approach has been crucial to building trust. Lesson 2: Do not ignore rumours “I have an ESSN card but I saw on Facebook that my monthly cash assistance will soon be ended. What is the reason for that?” asked a refugee recently via our call centre. This “fear rumour” reflects the anxieties of refugees living in Turkey that ESSN may end. Another refugee family shared: “We are currently receiving ESSN cash assistance, but we have seen on YouTube that Turkish Red Crescent will now also give us rent assistance due to the impact of COVID-19”. This is a clear “wish rumour”, reflecting the hope of refugees for more support during these difficult times. The spread of such misinformation and rumours has always been a challenge for ESSN. But we learned that during the COVID-19 pandemic – a time of increased insecurity and stress – it is even more important for us to monitor the appearance and spread of misinformation. The best defence is to prevent rumours before they start. We share regular information updates, getting accurate, trusted information into people’s hands before rumours have a chance to emerge. When rumours and misinformation do surface, we quickly counter false stories with verified information and ensure the news stories or posts are removed online. We encourage the people we work for to participate too by sharing verified, trustworthy information within their community. Lesson 3: Responding to incoming questions, feedback and complaints alone is not enough. Reach out proactively to the most vulnerable households While actively reaching out to every one of the millions of refugees living in Turkey is practically impossible, Turkish Red Crescent has made thousands of outbound calls, contacting the most vulnerable households. This includes families required not to leave their homes for some weeks due to a mandatory curfew, including anyone over 65 as well as people with disabilities. This proactive approach enabled people to share all their questions and concerns with us, including sensitive issues or requests for additional support. Depending on the specific needs and concerns raised, Turkish Red Crescent has referred some of these people to other services, such as the national COVID-19 emergency hotline, the social assistance services provided by the Turkish Government, and specialized services from other humanitarian actors, including protection actors. Conclusion In Turkey, now more than ever, we must continue to build more meaningful relationships with communities and act on people’s concerns and suggestions. COVID-19 has challenged the way we as a humanitarian sector work, but it has also allowed us to find more innovative solutions to listen to refugees and respond to their needs. More about the Emergency Social Safety Net (ESSN) Home to more than 4 million refugees, Turkey hosts more refugees than any other country in the world. Most of them are Syrians, fleeing a conflict that has been ongoing for nine years. With funding from the European Union, Turkish Red Crescent and IFRC are able to provide monthly cash assistance to the most vulnerable families through the Emergency Social Safety Net (ESSN). Over 1.7 million refugees benefit from this assistance, enabling them to cover some of their basic needs, including food, rent and utilities, every month. This article covers humanitarian aid activities implemented with the financial assistance of the European Union. The views expressed herein should not be taken, in any way, to reflect the official opinion of the European Union, and the European Commission is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information it contains.

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21/08/2020 | Article

Peru: Supporting migrants in the middle of a pandemic

By Melissa Monzon Luis Luis was born in Caracas, Venezuela. Two years ago, he decided to leave his country, seeking for a better quality of life. He started his trip by bus, because he didn’t have all the documents to travel by plane. “When I arrived in Cucuta, I found the Red Cross, they gave me a kit with help for the road, because the trip was very long; I was traveling to Medellin”. Once in Medellin, he worked there for eight months, and then started his way to Lima, Peru. The road was not what he expected, once in Ecuador he encountered a series of protests and when he couldn´t continue with his trip, he had to stay two days in the station waiting to be able to take the bus to continue his journey. “When I arrived in Guayaquil, I once again found a Red Cross tent, they help us all, they gave us a food kit, things for personal care and medicine”, says Luis. Then he continued his route until he arrived in Lima. Once in Lima, a friend offered him a job selling food. “I worked hard every day, we had several problems, but we persisted, working in an exhausting schedule”. However, due to the pandemic, he could no longer continue working. “As I worked on the streets, with COVID-19 we couldn´t work anymore. It hit us pretty hard, because that was our only income”. Luis has a bicycle, and now that Peru is opening up some economic activities, he is already looking for a job, offering his home delivery service. “As I am a migrant, I don´t have a subsidy from the government. For this reason, every day, I go to the markets, looking constantly for a job, I hope to find it soon”, says Luis. Yudi A year and seven months ago Yudi came from Venezuela to Peru with her family, seeking a better quality of life. In order to be able to make the trip, they sold everything they had. Peru was their destination since the beginning, as they heard that they were handing out the temporary residence permit, with which they could work and earn a living legally and honestly, as she tells us. “My daughter has epilepsy, this also made us take the decision to migrate. We needed to go to a place, to a country where they could offer her medical care and get the medicines that she so badly needs.” Before Yudi traveled, her brother and nephews had already arrived. After they proved that they felt Good here, Yudi traveled with her sister, her two sons and her two dogs, who are also part of the family. Once in Lima, Yudi worked as a tutor for online courses until November 2019. Due to the pandemic, her sister and son were also unemployed; her nephews, who had a food business, had to close it. “The situation is quite uncertain, we don´t know what will happen”, says Yudi. Jesus Jesus came from Venezuela to Peru four years ago. His trip was by bus, because he didn´t had enough money to travel by plane. He first arrived in Ecuador, where he stayed for two months, and then arrived in Peru in 2016. “When I arrived, everything seemed nice to me, although I didn´t knew many things, I felt out of place, I was only twenty years old. I lived in one room and shared a bathroom with sixteen people. I worked as a waiter in a restaurant; until today I am very grateful to those people because I didn’t have the documents at that time, and they always treated me well”, says Jesus, who already knows the city today, has Peruvian friends and colleagues, and tell us that thanks to them he has been able to learn more about the country’s culture. Eventually he moved to an apartment and went from waiter to manager of a restaurant. “I met very nice, spectacular people, they gave me a lot of support, I learned a lot of things, because when I left Venezuela, I was a student, I didn’t have work experience.” Due to the pandemic, Jesus no longer has a job because the restaurant where he used to work decided to close. “I lost my job; it was alarming because I lived alone. I was worried, but happily I had contact with some friends who decided to move in with me.” Jesus tells us that another great concern of not earning an income is not being able to send money back to his mom and dad who live in Venezuela. He, like so many other migrants, is a source of income for all those families who stayed in their countries. “I try to see the positive things in everything. When the quarantine begun, I tried to organize myself a little more, I sold some stuff, and I tried different things to distract myself, I tried to do exercise a lot, pray a lot, watch the news and communicate with my family in Venezuela.” Pedro* Pedro left from Venezuela to Colombia a year and a half ago searching for work, while his wife Maria, traveled to Peru. After two months, they met each other in the latter country. Once in Peru, Pedro worked in a restaurant. “It was very difficult because I have never worked in a kitchen before, but I did my best, my wife was pregnant at the time. I always tried to do my best, until I was stabled at my job. I worked hard, obtaining each of the things that I have today in my home, and helping my family in Venezuela, where I have two children. Fighting every day for the welfare of my family”, says Pedro. In the context of the pandemic, Pedro lost his job. In one of his wife’s pregnancy test, they test him for HIV, the result tested positive. “I have been very pleased with the treatment they have given me; I have received excellent attention and information. I am very grateful with the hospital, with its staff, with the help here in Peru, they have helped us a lot. They have given me pills, information, everything I needed”. Despite his degree of vulnerability, Pedro has gone out to work on the streets, as he is the livelihood of his family both in Peru and in Venezuela. “I have gone out but taking all the preventive measures, with my mask and my hand sanitizer. I need to go out to work, especially for the baby who needs food”. “I am very grateful to be in Peru, and I continue with great desire to continue working and fighting for my family, and for those we love the most, to help my children in Venezuela, and we will be here until God allows it, and then to be able to return to our country someday and to enjoy our people”, concludes Pedro. ------------- Luis, Yudi, Jesus y Pedro are some of the people who are part of the Cash and Voucher Assistance program implemented in Peru by the Red Cross with the support of the European Union. This program is aimed at families in a vulnerable condition, who have been left without financial support due to the pandemic. As part of the program, families receive a card with an economic amount to cover their basic needs. In the testimonies collected, the families have shared with us that the card has allowed them to cover expenses mainly for rent, food and health. *This name was changed to protect the person who kindly gave us his testimony.

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