Cash and voucher assistance

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Cash assistance: ‘Today, I see a brighter future for my daughters’

For several years now, the Far North region of Cameroon has been facing the effects of climate change, characterized by droughts, seasonal disruptions and recurrent flooding, with disastrous consequences for agriculture, livestock farming and even access to supply centres and markets, among other challenges. This situation has led to a further deterioration in the economic situation of local households.In addition to the effects of climate change, there are social tensions marked by inter-community conflicts and grievances, as well as the presence of non-state armed groups. Over the last ten years, these factors have created a situation of insecurity, leading to population movements and, for many, the loss of loved ones."I lost my husband a few years ago,” says Soumaïra, who lives with her children in the village of Ndoukoula, in the Far North region of Cameroon. "I was 13 when we got married. A few years later I gave birth to our first daughter. My husband took good care of us. His job was to rear the herds of important local men, and he was also responsible for selling them.“One day, as he was returning from a village on the border with Nigeria to sell the animals of one of his bosses, he was killed in an attack. I had only just given birth to our second daughter, and I was already a widow with two children to support.”A new lease on life through cash assistanceHaving lost her parents when she was less than 10 years old, and facing a precarious situation, Soumaîra was taken in by the village chief, who tries as hard as he can to look after her and her daughters."One day, as I was going about my daily chores, I was approached by Red Cross volunteers and some members of my community", she recalls. "They told me they wanted to collect information about me to see if I was eligible for any further financial assistance to help me meet my family's immediate needs."It turns out that Soumaïra’s village is one of eight targeted by the programmatic partnership between the IFRC, the Directorate-General for European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO) and the French Red Cross in Cameroon.As part of the second phase of the partnership's operations in the region, 1,000 households in the Far North region have been receiving cash assistance since January 2024. The cash grants were made to respond to the most urgent basic needs of the population in this region, following armed violence, the impacts of climate change and the residual and economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic."I told them everything they wanted to know and I was confident of being selected, which I was. Some time later, they explained to me that I would receive 64,000 Central African Francs (around 91 Swiss francs) in three instalments. With this money, I could buy a few important items for the house, have my children looked after if they were ever ill, and with the rest, if I wanted to, start a small business.“Today I received my first financial allowance and I'm so happy. With this money, I'm going to buy millet and other food to feed my children. I'm also going to start raising livestock and trading for a living. It's a process that will continue with the other funds I receive. I will be able to take care of my daughters' school needs and fight to make a difference to their lives.“Today Icansee abrighterfuture for my daughters.”In addition to the cash assistance, the Cameroon Red Cross is sharing community awareness messages on how best to prepare for and respond to epidemics and disasters, as well as on risk communication and community engagement.

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Hunger crisis: ‘Now I can take care of my own family’

In the Lubombo region of Eswatini, near the town of Big Bend, 39-year-old Bongani Masuku looks over at his field of maize. He just harvested a section last week. “But there is still work to do,” Bongani says and starts working the land. Lubombo is one of the hottest areas in Eswatini. As Bongani weeds his field, the temperature has already risen to over 34 degrees. “I remove the weeds so that my maize will grow properly,” he says. “If I let the weeds take over, the seedlings would grow to be very thin and not offer good harvest.” Earlier in the season, Bongani attended an agricultural training, after which he received a cash grant of around 70 euros. He invested the money in maize seeds that are more resilient to drought, as climate change has made rains more irregular and increased drought. Around 70 per cent of Eswatini’s population are directly dependent on agriculture for their livelihood. This is why the changing weather conditions are extremely concerning. “The recent heatwaves have really made farming more difficult. The maize should not receive too much sunlight when it is blooming. Rain is important at that stage. The last time the maize was in bloom there was no rain at all, so my harvest was smaller than I expected.” The maize field has a great significance to Bongani. “This allows me to feed my family, but also to sell some of the crops and get money,” he adds. “This money helps me put my children to school. I have five children with my darling wife. Now I can buy them schoolbooks and other school supplies, like pens. If I make enough money, I can also buy them shoes to wear to school.” Prolonged food insecurity Like elsewhere in Southern Africa, people in Eswatini are suffering from a severe and prolonged food security crisis that began in 2015. The drought caused by the El Niño phenomenon, further strengthened by climate change and the irregular rains and floods ever since, have damaged harvests year after year. Bongani is one of the 25,500 people included in the three-year project funded by the European Union to improve food security by means of cash assistance. In addition to the Finnish Red Cross, the project includes the Baphalali Eswatini Red Cross Society and Belgian Red Cross Flanders. For recipients of the cash grants such as Winile Masuku, the cash assistance has meant the ability to buy food such as rice, maize flour and cooking oil at a time when regular food sources are far less plentiful and more expensive. “Before receiving cash assistance, we were dependent on our neighbours,” Winile explains as she sits in front of her home – its walls made of intricately woven branches and stonework. “Now I can take care of my own family.” Gardening for change While not everyone is a farmer, many people in Eswatini grow a portion of their daily sustenance in local community gardens. This is one reason this climate-resilience project also aims to revive the tradition of community gardens. Part of that effort includes trainings from the Ministry of Agriculture on how to most effectively tend community gardens in the face of more extreme climate conditions. After each training, participants get a cash grant of around 35 euros to buy plant seeds, for example. The participants are encouraged to use crop varieties that require less water. “The garden offers stability to my family, as I employ myself with this and take care of my family,” says Sibongile, one of the participants. “The harvest from the garden allows me to feed my family, and I can also sell some crops to get money for my children’s education.” Health in the countryside It’s also important to ensure that people stay healthy as drought and heat can create conditions that exacerbate the spread of diseases and symptoms such as dehydration. For this reason, the EU-funded project also supports the community in epidemic and pandemic preparedness. The Baphalali Eswatini Red Cross Society runs three clinics in the country, and the project supports their capacity to respond to different epidemics, such as diarrhoeal diseases, tuberculosis and HIV. “Each morning we offer health advice, meaning that we tell patients what epidemics are currently ongoing,” explains Phumlile Gina, a nurse at the clinic in Hosea Inkhundla in the Shiselweni region. “Right now we are informing them of vaccinations, especially against the coronavirus and tuberculosis. We also highlight proper hygiene: we explain how important it is to wash your hands and also remind people to wash their water containers every now and then.” “Some of our patients here in the countryside are very poor,” she adds. “They can come to the clinic for some completely other reason, for a flu for example. But we may then notice that the growth of the patient’s child is clearly stunted and there is reason to suspect malnourishment.” “We are able to take care of such situations as well and monitor the condition of the patients. It feels great when a patient comes back to the clinic after six months and says that their child is doing great and playing like other children.” The Programmatic Partnership between the IFRC network and the European Union, provides strategic, flexible, long-term and predictable funding, so that National Societies can act before an emergency occurs. It is being implemented worldwide including 13 countries in Africa.

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| Press release

IFRC concludes implementation of the ESSN programme in Türkiye

Ankara, 6 December 2023: As a significant milestone in its commitment to humanitarian aid, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) concluded the implementation of the Emergency Social Safety Net (ESSN) Programme and handed it over to the Ministry of Family and Social Services (MoFSS) of the Republic of Türkiye alongside Türk Kızılay, which will continue to be the implementing partner, with the financial support of the European Union (EU). To mark this pivotal moment, the IFRC hosted an event on 6 December 2023 that included a photo exhibition at The Ankara Hotel, with the presence of the Head of Unit for Southeast Europe and Eastern Neighbourhood for the EU’s Humanitarian Aid Operations (DG ECHO) Juha Auvinen and the Head of Cooperation at the Delegation of the EU to Türkiye Odoardo Como. The IFRC was represented by Regional Director for the Europe and Central Asia Office Birgitte Bischoff Ebbesen, the Republic of Türkiye’s Ministry of Family and Social Services by its Deputy Minister Zafer Tarıkdaroğlu and Türk Kızılay by its Director General for International Affairs and Migration Services Alper Küçük. “This programme has successfully provided monthly cash assistance to more than 1.5 million vulnerable refugees in Türkiye,” said Jessie Thomson, IFRC Türkiye’s Head of Delegation. “Today, we proudly hand over the programme to the capable hands of the Republic of Türkiye’s Ministry of Family and Social Services and Türk Kızılay. We are thrilled to see this vital programme continue in support of the most vulnerable refugees in Türkiye for the years to come.” “The first step towards the great goals we all aspire to, such as sustainable development and lasting peace, is to empower individuals in need of protection. This is our perspective as Turkish people and the policy we wish to convey to the international community,” said Adil Çalışkan, MoFSS Director General. “With this will, I believe that the ESSN Programme, which we have been implementing since 2016 will continue being one of the best practices of humanitarian assistance in the world following this new milestone.” Since 2020, the partnership between the IFRC and Türk Kızılay, together with the Republic of Türkiye’s Ministry of Family and Social Services, had been leading on this EU-funded cash programme, which provided cash assistance to more than 1.5 million refugees in Türkiye on monthly basis via the KIZILAYKART debit card, with the specific objective of stabilizing and improving the living standards of the most vulnerable households. "Türk Kızılay assumes a crucial role as a bridge that connects Türkiye's social assistance network to the extensive international assistance framework," said Alper Küçük, Türk Kızılay’s Director General for International Affairs and Migration Services. “Positioned centrally, the organization actively facilitates the exchange and coordination of resources, information, and expertise between national and international domains. Serving as a vital nexus, it plays a pivotal role in integrating humanitarian efforts across local, regional and global scales, thereby enhancing the overall effectiveness of social assistance initiatives." The ESSN Programme in Türkiye, also known as the largest humanitarian cash programme in the history of the EU, was first implemented by the World Food Programme (WFP) and Türk Kızılay in 2016, in partnership with the Republic of Türkiye’s Ministry of Family and Social Services, funded by DG ECHO. This financial support was crucial in increasing the economic resilience of the refugee population while enabling them to meet their most essential needs. “In 2016, we faced an unprecedented refugee crisis. Through the ESSN, we demonstrated that the EU, Türkiye and international humanitarian organizations could work together to create a unique humanitarian programme, which brought relief to millions of refugees,” explained Juha Auvinen, Head of Unit for Southeast Europe of the EU’s Humanitarian Aid Operations.” The Ministry of Family and Social Services, as the main applicant with Türk Kızılay as the co-applicant, have taken over the implementation of this programme since August 2023, and will continue serving millions of vulnerable refugees in Türkiye with the financial support of the Directorate General for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations (DG NEAR) under the ministry’s collective Social Safety Net Programme (SSN).

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Yemen: When conflict comes with disaster or disease, cash assistance can save lives.

In the village of Khanfar, in Yemen’s Abyan governorate, 62-year-old Khamisa lives with her daughter and her daughter’s children. The two women can barely manage the family's daily needs, so what will happen now that illness joins their daily struggle to survive. “Conflict increased our suffering as women as we did not have any breadwinners, and conflict left us on a new journey of survival, where we had to face our pain and suffering alone,” Khamisa said. Yemen has long been one of the poorest countries in the Middle East and North Africa, and is now in the midst of one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises. The country is now facing the world's largest food security emergency, with 20 million people – 66 per cent of the country's population - in need of humanitarian aid. Embroiled in conflict since early 2015, fighting has devastated its economy, leading to severe food insecurity and the destruction of critical infrastructure. Natural disasters have aggravated the crisis; the latest came in the form of tropical cyclone Tej, which made landfall over the southern coast of Al Mahrah Governorate recently, leaving more than 27,000 people internally displaced. And the ongoing conflict does not mean other chronic ailments take a break. In Khamisa’s case, it came in the form of cancer. “Before I became ill, we used to devote our time to the daily struggle of providing the basic necessities of life,” she says. “Following that, other challenges surfaced. Permanent fear and anxiety defined my life and my daughter’s, especially because of the difficulty of obtaining money for necessary medical examinations to find out the cause of my illness.” When even food is not the biggest priority Khamisa’s case shows us that the daily struggle to find food and drink may not be a priority for some people, as their main priority is getting medicine to stay alive. There are a few places where people can seek help as almost all basic services available in the country have collapsed. Khamisa and others like her see the cash assistance (offered by Yemen Red Crescent Society in partnership with the IFRC, ICRC and the British Red Cross) as a real lifeline. It gives Khamisa some hope and also helps her get to the hospital quickly, which unfortunately she must do on a regular basis. Her focus now is on ensuring her own survival to stand by her only daughter. “Our struggle stories never end,” she adds. “Our struggle is not only related to the continuous efforts to provide food and water but also related to dealing with sudden diseases in the absence of the necessary health care and sufficient support.” The power of choice 39-year-old Ahmed also lives in Khanfar with his sister, and his six children. He was working as a day laborer to provide for his family’s food needs and cover other medical and education requirements. But after Ahmed suffered from a heart disease, conditions began to gradually deteriorate. After becoming jobless, he spent all his savings trying to make sure his family had enough to eat, but what he saved from this work was not enough to cover his family’s needs. Ahmed told us that there were days when he went to bed hungry to save a little food for their children. Since the first cash distribution, Ahmed said that he was able to treat his illness and recover his health, and after the second cash distribution, he was able to open a grocery store which is now a permanent source of income. “I think it is better for aid to be given in cash rather than supplies,” Ahmed said. “The cash I received helped me to recover my health, and at the same time, it saved my source of income.”

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Rebuilding lives: Cash assistance supports refugee family in Türkiye to recover from earthquakes

On 6 February 2023, Türkiye was shaken by two massive earthquakes—the most significant seismic events the country has faced in the past century. The earthquakes have left a lasting impact on the nation's southeast region and beyond, toppling buildings, disrupting people’s livelihoods, and leaving communities in distress. For refugee communities living in Türkiye, the earthquakes came as yet another blow in their journey to find a peaceful and safe life. Ahmad Al Saleh is a refugee from rural Hama, Syria. He and his family moved to Türkiye in 2015 due to the escalating conflict at home, settling in Antakya – just 100km away from the first earthquake’s epicentre. “At 4:30 AM, we were sleeping with the kids when we suddenly felt the house shaking. Out of fear, we ran straight outside. It was raining and the weather was so cold. It wasn’t an option for us to go back in, so we slept outside for ten days," says Ahmad. Thankfully, Ahmad’s wife and six young children weren’t physically harmed during the earthquakes. But other families living close by weren’t so lucky. "Seeing all those survivors, children and women all around the place crying… I didn’t know who to help first. I saw people crying over their children, others over their wives and some others over their siblings. I saw buildings that were totally damaged. It was impossible to clean the rubble," explains Ahmad. Before the earthquakes struck, Ahmad and his family had been receiving monthly cash assistance from the IFRC and Turkish Red Crescent through the EU-funded Emergency Social Safety Net (ESSN) programme. The ESSN provided refugees living in Türkiye with reliable support via prepaid debit cards—called 'KIZILAYKART' or 'Red Crescent card'—to help them cover their basic needs. After the earthquakes, we worked with the Turkish Red Crescent to increase this cash support to affected communities—providing a lifeline for families like Ahmad's to cover essentials like rent, electricity, water bills, and groceries when their lives were turned upside down. "Regarding work, it became a lot less now. I hope I keep receiving this assistance through the KIZILAYKART. Otherwise, it’s impossible for us to pay rent, especially since the prices have drastically increased now. There are no jobs, unfortunately. In agriculture, normally you work only for a couple of days, but now we’ve been left with nothing," says Ahmad. Several months on from the earthquakes, the Turkish Red Crescent and IFRC remain firmly by the sides of communities across Türkiye. We continue to help people like Ahmad recover from the long-lasting impacts of the earthquakes—knowing from our many years of experience that cash assistance is one of the best ways to help people recover from disasters with freedom, independence and dignity. -- More information: Click here to learn more about our Emergency Social Safety Net (ESSN) programme. Click here to learn more about the IFRC’s response to the earthquakes in Türkiye. And click here to learn more about cash assistance.

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El Salvador: Red Cross supports communities before, during and after disasters

Rosa Cándida is a farmer from Las Maravillas village on the outskirts of Ahuachapán, western El Salvador. She and her husband, two daughters and two young granddaughters live off the land—growing maize, beans and sorghum in the lush countryside close to their home. In stark contrast to the idyllic setting, in recent years, Rosa has seen tropical storms, landslides, heavy rains and earthquakes devastate her country. El Salvador is the smallest country in Central America, but it faces big disaster and climate-related risks. In 2022, Rosa was one of more than 1.7 million people who needed some form of humanitarian assistance or protection in the country due to disasters. An earthquake in January of this year damaged her home, creating big cracks in its mudbrick walls and forcing her family to sleep outside while they found the money needed to repair it. Half a day’s farming only generates just enough income for Rosa to feed her family for the day, meaning disasters like the earthquake have a drastic impact on her family’s finances and wellbeing. Thankfully, help arrived in the form of the Salvadoran Red Cross. Their teams quickly conducted an earthquake damage assessment and provided cash assistance to more than 600 families in the region—including Rosa’s. “Support from the Red Cross reached us and helped us buy food, medicines and other household items," she says. Red Cross teams completed two cash transfers, making sure the money got to the people who needed it most: "We prioritized households which were the most heavily affected by the earthquake and which included older people, pregnant women, nursing mothers and children under five," explains Fatima Evora from the Salvadoran Red Cross. Cash assistance is one of many ways in which the Salvadoran Red Cross is helping local communities across the country to prevent, prepare for, and respond to disasters. Their volunteers have also been setting up early warning systems to prepare communities for droughts and floods, as well as helping people to adopt climate-smart livelihoods. And as part of the Programmatic Partnership between the IFRC, National Societies, and the European Union, the Salvadoran Red Cross organized community workshops earlier this year so people could learn about their disaster risks and know how to prepare. “We learned that there are green, yellow, orange and red alerts, and that each one indicates a different level of risk. We can be prepared and warn people via megaphones to evacuate and seek help,” says Juana Santa Maria, who attended a workshop in San Luis Herradura. “The most valuable thing has been to know that, as a community, we are able to seek help from the mayor's office, community development associations and civil protection personnel. Today we have more information to prepare for and respond to disasters,” she adds. -- In 2022, we reached 3,000 people in El Salvador through the Programmatic Partnership with the European Union. Implemented by 24 National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies around the world—including in Panama, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador and Ecuador in the Americas—the Programmatic Partnership helps communities to reduce their risks and be better prepared for disasters and health emergencies. With the coordination of the Spanish Red Cross, Italian Red Cross and Norwegian Red Cross and support from the IFRC, the Salvadoran Red Cross is: Building community knowledge Providing assistance to people on the move Preventing and responding to health outbreaks Ensuring community perceptions and concerns are taken into account and used to improve their humanitarian assistance

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The untapped potential of innovative financing and humanitarian organizations

This piece was originally published in the OECD Development Co-operation Report 2023 'Debating the Aid System', available here. The past several years have been unprecedented for the humanitarian sector. Worsening disasters and evolving crises across the globe have demonstrated that, despite our best efforts, the assumptions, approaches and structures that have long defined humanitarian responses are no longer capable of adequately meeting people’s needs. This comes as no surprise to members and observers of the humanitarian sector. Important and necessary discussions on questions of localisation and the decolonisation of aid reveal the extent to which transformation is necessary – not only for the future of the humanitarian system but also the future of our organisations and the future we strive to build for the individuals and communities we partner with. At the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), local organisations lead our humanitarian action. The 192 National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies that make up the IFRC network are embedded in their local communities and are intimately aware of the needs and how best to shape an appropriate humanitarian response. In this way, the IFRC network has a unique strength and capacity to directly channel resources from the international ecosystem to local and national organisations. A recent analysis found that local and community actors deliver programming that is 32% more cost efficient than that of international intermediaries. We know through the work of our IFRC network that localising humanitarian assistance promotes greater inclusion and equity, more trust, faster and more timely responses, more flexibility, broader access, and long-term sustainability in our operations and programming. By investing in local and national support systems, we are able to strengthen and reinforce national infrastructure – directly benefiting the people who need it most. Yet despite donor commitments in the Grand Bargain and significant progress made by some donors, the overall percentage of direct funding to local actors has barely moved beyond the low single digits. As the impacts of climate change accelerate, and as new and unexpected conflicts devastate entire populations, small or medium-sized crises and disasters struggle to attract visibility and funding, leaving those affected at risk of being neglected by the international community. At the IFRC, we are exploring innovative ways of covering the costs of our work to prevent this from happening. We’ve had to ask ourselves, how are we reacting to the challenge of doing better with less? How are we exploring innovative ideas around financing and engaging with new donors? The blurring of lines between the humanitarian and the private sectors is an area of exciting growth that represents untapped potential when it comes to innovative financing. In a groundbreaking move, the IFRC is collaborating with Aon and the Centre for Disaster Protection to build an innovative insurance mechanism whereby commercial insurance markets leverage the contributions of traditional donors to expand the capacity of our Disaster Response Emergency Fund (DREF) to respond to natural disasters. The DREF, established in 1985, is a central funding mechanism through which the IFRC releases funds rapidly to national societies for early action and immediate disaster response. The balance of funds required by the DREF to meet the demands of national societies has historically been funded through an annual appeal. However, in 2020, high requests for funds meant that DREF allocations surpassed available resources for the first time in history. The growing needs facing national societies around the world and the uncertainties of the future have therefore sparked a process of modernisation with the aim of making the DREF more flexible and more effective. Through the insurance structure we are developing, donors would pay the premium instead of directly financing disaster responses through the DREF. This extends the value of their contributions and transfers the risk to the private sector if allocation requests exceed available resources. Reinsurance markets would relieve the risks of excessive natural hazards and would ensure funds are available for national societies to rely on even in periods of excessive or unexpected demand. Through this cutting-edge approach, we aim to increase annual DREF allocations to CHF100million (Swiss francs), equivalent to about USD 100 million, in 2025. As it is impossible to reach this target through donor grants alone, the insurance mechanism represents an enormous step forward that has the capacity to transform how the international humanitarian system responds to complex crises in the future. Another way the IFRC has answered this call is through our cash and voucher assistance programming. Using cash reiterates our commitment to more agile and efficient methods of providing humanitarian support that promotes choice and preserves dignity for people and communities. This type of programming allows us to cut down operating costs by placing the people affected by crisis and disaster – and most importantly, their own preferences and decisions – at the centre of our operations. Recently we developed a new Cash app, built on learnings from other emergency operations, that allows people fleeing Ukraine to self-register and be verified for assistance. This new innovative approach to cash, which has been rolled out in Romania, has allowed us to take our response to scale and at speed, in many instances as the leading agency in the delivery of cash in the Ukraine response. Over 56000 people have been reached and assisted with EUR 17.4 million in Romania. The app has also been launched in Bulgaria, where in just four days, 20% of the known Ukrainians in the country were able to self-register. Ultimately, by scaling up and replicating these ambitious and innovative programmes across our global network, the community-connectedness of organisations like the IFRC can be harnessed in a powerful way. The inescapable reality is that more funds will be urgently needed to confront the ever-increasing humanitarian emergencies of the world – yet financial innovation holds the key to sustainable, meaningful and impactful humanitarian work.

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Fleeing Syria and surviving the Türkiye earthquake: Houda’s secret ingredients for resilience

Starting your life over somewhere new is never an easy feat. It takes immense mental strength to rebuild years of hard work and community from scratch. For Houda Al-Fadil, starting over wasn’t by choice. She was forced to flee a war-torn Syria, leaving her home behind so she could protect her family and offer them a chance of a better life—a life away from bombing, hunger, and fear. Back in October 2020, we interviewed Houda for our Red Cross Red Crescent magazine and learned how she and her family had started their new life in Kahramanmaraş, Türkiye. There, Houda had found her calling in the kitchen. Cooking had always been a passion for her, but it also became a way to make ends meet and support her husband and four children. Catching up with Houda in April 2023, she told us how she signed up for cooking courses at Turkish Red Crescent community centres to pursue her food business. “Thanks to these courses, I learned how to buy and sell. I learned about Turkish traditions and the Turkish community, and I felt included. They brought together people from Türkiye and Syria, and I was able to learn from both. They also organized a cooking festival where I was able to sell food that I had prepared at home.” The courses inspired her to create new recipes that combined Syrian and Turkish ingredients. Selling her dishes from home, she quickly built up a loyal following of customers who loved her unique culinary concoctions. Her business was going well and she began dreaming up her own little restaurant, a safe space in which people from Syria, Türkiye and other places could connect with one another over food. But on the morning of February 6, 2023, it all came to a halt. A 7.7 magnitude earthquake hit southeast Türkiye and northern Syria, killing more than 50,000 people and destroying homes and livelihoods. Fortunately, Houda and her family were physically unscathed, but it was a terrifying experience for them. “The shaking and the sounds that went on for a minute and a half were extremely distressing. One of my kids couldn’t sleep nor eat for a whole week after that. I sent her to stay with our relatives for a while so she could recover, and she came back when she started to feel better,” Houda says. As well as the physical damage caused by the earthquake, with cracks appearing on the walls of her home, the real damage was to Houda’s up-and-coming cooking business. “I had almost 100 customers, everyone was buying the dishes I was preparing. But most of my customers fled Kahramanmaraş after the earthquake. Some people moved to Istanbul, Bursa and Mersin. Others sadly passed away. I only have two customers left now.” The earthquake might have shaken Houda, but it had little effect on her perseverance and her will to keep moving forward. So, what’s the secret ingredient to her resilience? “My family keeps me going. I want my daughter to continue her university studies during these difficult times, and I want to help her achieve her dreams. By pursuing my own dream, I can support my children and other people to pursue their own. This is what makes me happy; helping others and providing all the support they need to achieve their goals.” Houda wants to rebuild her cooking business in Türkiye, with no plans to return to Syria. “I wouldn’t go back to Syria. The situation there is dire; the poverty is unbelievable. Some people don’t have food. I heard stories of people who had to sell their clothes to be able to feed their children. There’s no water, no electricity, no internet. There’s just no proper life for us there.” To help her on her cooking journey, Houda has also now taken up gardening with support from the Turkish Red Crescent. Unwavering support from their volunteers has been another key ingredient to her resilience. She concluded: “I still aspire to do it. My culinary dream lives on. Everyone should hold on to their ambitions and not give up early on. Stay strong in front of the challenges that lie ahead!” You can listen to our recent interview with Houda via Red Cross Red Crescent magazine's latest podcast. -- To assist people affected by the 6 February earthquake, the IFRC launched two Emergency Appeals for Türkiye and Syria to support the response of our National Societies on the ground. And since 2019, in partnership with the Turkish Red Crescent, the IFRC has been supporting more than 1.5 million refugees like Houda in Türkiye through our Emergency Social Safety Net (ESSN) Programme, funded by the European Union. Click here to find out more.

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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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| 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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| 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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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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| 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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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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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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| 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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| 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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| 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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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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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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| 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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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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“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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| 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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“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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