The IFRC was created to bring kindness – and kindness is needed more than ever
“The world is bleeding, and it needs help now”.
Stark words of warning from a humanitarian leader shaken by a brutal war and living under the shadow of a global pandemic.
I did not pen these words. They were written in 1919, by Henry Davison, the leader of the American Red Cross.
His big idea was that the world’s Red Cross societies – which were set up after the movement was created by Nobel Laureate Henry Dunant in 1863 – should come together as a force for good at all times, and not only during wars. Davison firmly believed the kindness and expertise shown by Red Cross volunteers should benefit humanity in other times as well.
And thus, the League of Red Cross Societies was born, on the 5th of May 1919. There were five founding Red Cross Societies – those of the United States of America, Italy, Japan, France, and the United Kingdom. By the end of that year, the League had 30 members.
The League changed its name to the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies – the IFRC – in 1991. We now have 192 member National Societies, with more in formation.
The core of the idea has stayed the same while the scope of the IFRC network has grown massively, in reach and in impact.
In 2020, 14.9 million Red Cross and Red Crescent volunteers reached more than 688 million people with disaster and other emergency response work; some 306 million with health activities, and 125 million with clean water and sanitation assistance.
These are impressive figures, but the scale of the humanitarian needs continues to grow every year. Right now, countless people across the world need urgent support.
The conflict in Ukraine and the stress placed on its neighbouring countries is just one example. The lingering physical, social and economic damages inflicted by the global COVID-19 pandemic is another. Alongside these disasters is the ever-present, and worsening, threat of climate change.
With challenges like these, can a simple idea – like the one that led in 1919 to what is now known as the IFRC – still help to heal the world? I believe it can – and will. We know what works, and we’ve been proving it for more than a century.
It’s one human being reaching out to support another human being in crisis, at the community level, where it is always needed the most.
It’s ensuring that local volunteers and local organizations have the resources, training and as much (or as little) international support as they need to respond to disasters and crises. It’s making sure their voices are heard, and their interests represented, on the international stage.
And it is working to bring that support to the most marginalized communities and individuals, no matter where they are, and without any discrimination as to who they are.
It is – put simply – kindness.
I first joined my National Society, the Nepal Red Cross, as a volunteer more than three decades ago. I was trusted – and therefore able to meet and support the people in greatest need – because I was part of their community, I spoke their language, and I understood their concerns. And the key to understanding what people needed was kindness.
Over the years, the IFRC has evolved alongside the communities we support. We have adapted our ways of working, expanded our expertise as different vulnerabilities and stressors emerge, and have been agile enough to pioneer and then mainstream new approaches to humanitarian support.
We have led on the development and widespread acceptance of cash assistance as the most effective and most respectful way to support people in need. After all, people who have lost everything in a disaster or conflict should not have to lose their dignity as well.
And we are driving change in how disaster risks are managed and reduced through anticipatory action, where local communities are supported to reduce their risks, and immediate funding can be triggered once scientifically-measured thresholds are reached.
None of this work would be possible without the kindness of our 14.9 million Red Cross and Red Crescent community-based volunteers.
On World Red Cross and Red Crescent Day, 8th May, we will encourage people around the world to believe in the power of kindness and #BeHumanKIND.
The world is still bleeding. It still needs help. But there are nearly 15 million reasons to believe in kindness, and to have hope.
If you'd like to read more about the history of the IFRC, visit our history and archives page.
And check out the hashtag #BeHumanKIND across all social media channels this week to see how our National Societies are celebrating World Red Cross and Red Crescent Day.
| Press release
IFRC and United Nations ESCAP partner to strengthen resilience in the world of climate change
Bangkok, 12 September 2022 -The United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) have formalized a partnership through a Memorandum of Understanding to promote building resilience in the world of climate change.
Climate change is affecting every aspect of human life in all corners of the world. Traditional knowledge and weather patterns are no longer dependable with natural disasters and abnormal temperatures increasing in both frequency and intensity. As the ongoing unprecedented flood in Pakistan shows, we need all hands-on deck to be prepared for the uncertainty and colossal scale of damage from the impact of climate change.
In this way, the MoU between ESCAP, the most inclusive intergovernmental platform in the Asia-Pacific region, and the IFRC, the world’s largest humanitarian network with a view to prevent and alleviate human suffering, comes at an opportune time when regional and organizational cooperation is very much needed. The two organizations have numerous areas for collaboration, including but not limited to climate action, disaster risk management, and building inclusive and resilient communities.
“It’s time to capitalize on the untapped potential of regional and subregional cooperation to address the region’s shared vulnerabilities and risks that are more critical at 1.5 to 2 degrees warming,” said Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana, United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of ESCAP. She further underscored, “If we are unable to contain the warming of the planet, the world will need to prepare for a new normal of “disasters on steroids.”
“When we join forces, we are more powerful than when we work alone. Together we combine the strength of Governments with our global humanitarian network which includes our expertise, data, tools, knowledge, and human resources. This combination is very powerful to address the global challenges we face– especially the sharp increase in climate related disasters that can only be solved together,” affirmed Jagan Chapagain, Secretary-General of the IFRC.
For more information:
UN ESCAP Communications and Knowledge Management Section, +66 2288 1869, [email protected]
Confronting the environmental causes of Africa’s food crisis
This blog was originally posted on the WWF website here.
Africa is facing its worst food crisis in 40 years. Nearly 114 million people across sub-Saharan Africa – a figure approaching half the entire population of the United States – face severe food insecurity. In Eastern Africa, 50 million people are at risk. Across the Sahel, the number of people needing emergency food assistance has quadrupled to 30 million in the past seven years.
The causes of this current crisis are manifold. Conflict and the economic downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic have played their part. But more significantly, the continent has been wracked by prolonged drought, flooding and swarms of desert locusts – natural hazards, exacerbated by man-made climate change and the degradation of nature.
It is the most vulnerable who are bearing the brunt of the current hunger crisis. Men and women are losing their livelihoods as crops fail, animals starve or die of thirst, and soil is washed away. Children go hungry, and their education is abandoned. Women eat less, and drought means dietary requirements, especially for young girls, pregnant and lactating women, and menstrual hygiene are relegated.
There is an urgent need for life-saving humanitarian assistance in all countries in Africa. Organizations such as Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies are stepping up their actions, with the IFRC, governments and partners, to provide this urgent support. But they recognize, as does WWF, the need to also build resilience to shocks and to address the root causes of food insecurity.
A changing climate
Many underlying causes can be found in the twin environmental crises of climate and nature loss, which are compounded with the crises caused by factors including poverty and conflict. The rising levels of greenhouse gases in our atmosphere – primarily from the rich and middle-income countries of the global North – are driving temperature rises that are disrupting weather and climate patterns and degrading natural ecosystems.
Climate change is making extreme weather events worse, more frequent and more trans-boundary. It is changing patterns of precipitation, undermining water and food security. It is impacting human health, as well as putting additional stress on nature and biodiversity, exacerbating pressures from land-use change, over-exploitation, pollution and invasive species.
Presently, around 30 per cent of all greenhouse gas emissions come from food systems. Not only are food choices in rich, urban areas leading to a health crisis of obesity and non-communicable disease, but the over-consumption of unsustainably produced foods, and inefficient and wasteful behaviours across all value chains, are directly contributing to food insecurity in Africa.
This underscores the urgent imperative for rich countries to reduce emissions as quickly as possible. Even if all other sectors linearly decarbonise by 2050, business as usual food systems will account for nearly the whole carbon budget of a 2 degree future.
While around 89 countries have pledged to reach net-zero emissions by the middle of this century (which would still not deliver the emissions cuts needed to limit warming to 1.5°C), few have yet developed the suite of policies and regulations that will put them on a net-zero trajectory.
Many vulnerable communities in Africa need to be supported in the face of climate shocks by strengthening their capacity to respond, reducing their risk exposure and building their resilience.
There is much that can and should be done to directly help vulnerable communities and ecosystems in Africa today and in the decades to come.
Urgent investment must be made to help vulnerable communities adapt to the current impacts of climate change, and to become more resilient to climate shocks yet to come. Critically, this involves building a shared understanding, securing financing and enacting favourable policies so that governments, NGOs and the private sector in Africa can recognise the threats posed by the impacts of climate change and implement the urgent solutions needed to help local people adapt.
The link between climate and nature
Significant solutions also exist that use nature to both mitigate greenhouse gas emissions and to help communities to adapt and become more climate resilient.
The world’s land, oceans and freshwater systems already absorb and store half of the emissions humankind produces each year: protecting, restoring and enhancing ecosystems will be critical to addressing climate change. Food systems can also be a major part of the solution to the nature and climate crises.
Investment in nature-based solutions – such as adopting agroecological food production practices, forest conservation, protecting wetlands or enhancing coastal ecosystems – can help store emissions, protect communities from extreme weather events, and provide food, jobs and habitats. Such solutions, if high quality, well-designed and properly funded, can help build climate resilience.
But as well as individual projects, climate impacts and vulnerabilities, and the protection of nature, must be integrated into public- and private-sector decision-making at every level across the continent. The extent of the challenge posed by climate and nature loss means that they need to be considered across all levels of decision-making and by economic actors large and small.
The current food crisis faced by millions across Africa demands urgent humanitarian aid. But, without a much more comprehensive and long-term, locally-led, people-centred response to climate change and biodiversity loss, humanitarian resources will be stretched beyond breaking point.
The IFRC is partnering withWWF, the world's largest environmental conservation organization, to work with nature and protect people from the climate crisis. Click here to learn more about our partnership.
| Press release
WFP and IFRC join forces to strengthen response to anticipated climate shocks in MENA
Dubai, 10 August 2022–The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) and The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) signed a regional Memorandum of Understanding to support joint advocacy, capacity development, and resource mobilization for the coordinated national-level implementation of anticipatory action in response to climate shocks in the Middle East and North Africa region.
The signing took place at the conclusion of an event, “Road to COP27: Anticipatory Action Milestones and Way Forward in MENA”, that was hosted by the International Humanitarian City (IHC), Dubai, United Arab Emirates, and attended by high-level speakers and representatives from the UAE government, Ministry of Climate Change and Environment, WFP, IFRC, Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre and national societies, regional and international humanitarian organisations including UNDRR, FAO, Start Network, REAP.
The event emphasized the ongoing importance of acting early ahead of climate-related disasters, through anticipatory action. Anticipatory action is an effective way of mitigating the worst consequences of predictable climate risks, which are expected to become more frequent and intense because of climate change and conflict in the MENA region.
“In a region where climate hazards such as droughts, floods, and heatwaves are increasing humanitarian needs, anticipatory action aims to reduce or mitigate the impact of these hazards on the most vulnerable people,” said Mageed Yahia, WFP Representative to the GCC. “We are grateful for the strong representation from the UAE in this event today, an important ally in the quest to make the humanitarian system as anticipatory as possible,” he added.
Over the last few years, WFP and IFRC have been making progress in setting the scene for an anticipatory action (AA) approach in the MENA region for acting earlier ahead of disasters.
“Let us not forget that COP27 goals and vision are mitigation, adaptation, finance, and collaboration. Today we are addressing these four main elements, as Anticipatory Action allows for the mitigation and adaptation of climate change impacts,” said IFRC MENA Deputy Regional Director, Rania Ahmad. “This collaboration between IFRC and WFP will allow for increased sharing of experiences and financing and make the most vulnerable populations better prepared and enhance their resilience.”
During the event, WFP and the Overseas Development Institute (ODI) also launched the “Anticipatory Action in the MENA Region: State of Play and Accelerating Action” report, supported by the Swedish government, which highlights the state of anticipatory action in the region, and its potential to help avoid and reduce the impacts of disasters.
Regional coordination and collaboration across all stakeholders will be necessary to complement efforts and engagements to scale up the anticipatory actions agenda in the region with tangible results.
To support this, IFRC and WFP are establishing the “MENA Anticipatory Action regional community of practice” as a space for technical and advocacy coordination, collaboration, learning exchange, and capacity strengthening on anticipatory action and acting earlier ahead of disasters in the region. The initiative will bring together UN agencies, the Red Cross Red Crescent movement, as well as international organizations, governments, NGOs, the public and private sector, and academia, to coordinate and work together to effectively scale up and deliver anticipatory action programmes as the threat of climate shocks continues to grow.
For more information please contact:
Malak Atkeh, IFRC/GCC, [email protected],+971 564780874
Zeina Habib, WFP/Gulf, [email protected], +971 52 4724971
Abeer Etefa, WFP/MENA, [email protected], +20 1066634352
Reem Nada, WFP/MENA, [email protected], +20 1066634522
Global Climate Resilience Programme
Climate change is not a future problem, it is a threat to humanity that we see in our work with communities every day. Through ourGlobal Climate Resilience Programme, we're helping people adapt to climate change and reduce their climate-related risks.
Statement by the IFRC Secretary General at the Resumed High Level Segment of COP26
Excellencies, it is my privilege to address this plenary and I thank our host, the Government of the United Kingdom for their efforts to increase attention and action on the resilience agenda.
The climate crisis is a humanitarian crisis. Every day, we are seeing the growing impacts of climate change. Loss and damage are our daily reality.
In the month of October, there were 15 weather-related disasters affecting over 14.9 million people. Since the beginning of 2021, droughts have affected 40.1 million people—the highest number since 2016.
The IFRC and our 192-member National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies are responding to disasters and the humanitarian needs of people every day and working on local solutions to adapt to rising risks.
But the most vulnerable people are getting left behind.
The IFRC assessed which countries were the most climate-vulnerable looking at their exposure and coping capacities.We identified five countries with VERY high climate-vulnerability and a further 66 as having high vulnerability to climate-related threats.
But these countries are not getting the support they need.
Per person climate adaptation funding in 2019 averaged under one US dollar per person in very high vulnerability countries.
Somalia, the most vulnerable, ranks only 54th for per person climate change adaptation funding disbursements, whilst Afghanistan comes in 96th.
Many countries not receiving funding are fragile contexts that are hard to work in.
We must find ways to invest even where it is hard to do so, and we must collaborate to fill the gaps and get the resources to the local communities that are worst affected.
Global commitments are important, but they need to translate into local climate action.Communities, local governments, local organizations and local businesses need to be in the lead.
We will do our part. The IFRC, together with theInternational Committee of the Red Cross(ICRC), developed theClimate and Environment Charter for Humanitarian Organizations.
This now has over 170 signatories, and in this charter we all commit to greening our operations and to scaling up our climate action, building resilience wherever we work.
We are investing more in anticipatory action to save lives, in using nature-based solutions to build resilience, all while enabling locally-led action in the face of rising risks.
And we need to work together with you to do this.
For many people, survival is under threat today, in vulnerable countries but also in Australia, Europe, and the United States, where thousands have been killed by heatwaves, wildfires, floods and storms.
This will get worse as warming increases.
All of us will need to act before it’s too late. Let’s not miss our chance.
IFRC President, Francesco Rocca at COP26: "We don’t have any more time to waste”
Francesco Rocca, President of The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is in Glasgow attending the World Leaders Summit and calling for the people and communities most vulnerable to climate change to be at the heart of discussions.
At COP26, President Rocca made the following statements:
“The commitments made – or missed – at COP26 will have a huge impact on the lives of communities already on the front line of climate change.
We are seeing a clear rise in climate and weather related-emergencies. Wildfires, droughts, flooding, heatwaves, hurricanes; extreme weather events are happening more often and are putting more and more people in danger all over the world.
As world leaders convene in Glasgow for COP26, we are calling for the people and communities most vulnerable to climate change to be at the heart of discussions and decisions.
Global investment needs to reach them so that local people can adapt. For example, by building stronger buildings, homes, roads; and investing in early warning systems, so communities know when an extreme weather will hit and can prepare in advance.
Critically, we must avoid the catastrophic consequences of climate change, by reversing emissions and keeping the rise in global temperatures below 1.5 degrees.
The cost of inaction is far greater than the financial commitments promised. Vulnerable countries and communities are being left behind. In the future, humanitarian response alone will no longer be enough to keep communities safe.”
IFRC Secretary General addresses the Climate Science and Humanitarian Dialogue
Your excellencies, colleagues and friends, together with our co-hosts, the Permanent Missions of the Arab Republic of Egypt, the United Kingdom, and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, we warmly welcome you today to the IFRC for the Climate Science and Humanitarian Dialogue.
We are delighted to have you join us today—in person and online—for this important discussion which builds on the outcomes of the 2018 Climate Science and Humanitarian Dialogue we co-hosted together with Switzerland, the Netherlands, Fiji, the IPCC and the Climate Action Network.
A lot has changed since then.
TheIPCC report on impacts, adaptation and vulnerabilityhas effectively launched us into a new era.
An era where the whole world sees theclimate crisisas a humanitarian crisis unfolding in front of us.
The IPCC report confirms what the IFRC and our network of 192-member National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies have witnessed for years:climate change is already disrupting the lives of billions, particularly the world’s poorest who have contributed the least to it.
Climate change is contributing to humanitarian crises, especially in contexts where people are already vulnerable.It is drivingdisplacement, causinghealth issues, as well as flood and drought-inducedfood insecurity.
The report also confirms that climate impacts exacerbate and perpetuate vulnerabilities, as well as social and economic inequities. The consequences will be worse and sooner than we thought.
The unprecedented is no longer an excuse for being unprepared.
Extreme climate and weather events will be more frequent and more intense.
They will affect new places.
And many hazards will strike at once.
This means we can’t use what happened in the past to predict the future.
We must listen to the science and use it to plan for and protect against future risks.
This must be our standard way of working.
How can we, as the humanitarian community, use this science to take action together?
For our part, we are stepping up our climate action on the ground.
The IFRC network is adopting a proactive approach by establishing an ambitiousGlobal Climate Platformaimed at mobilizing resources and significantly enhancing climate action initiatives in the most climate vulnerable countries around the world, with the goal of increasing community resilience to the impacts of climate change.
Our decades of experience in disaster risk management and climate action - and leveraging the climate science expertise - uniquely positions the IFRC network to scale up local climate action.
The Climate Platform will be co-created with interested partners and member National Societies and will link different sources of funding across the development, humanitarian, climate and private sectors.
Its ambition is to raise over 1 billion Swiss francs to support a five-year programme in at least 100 climate vulnerable countries, to help more than 53 million people reduce climate risks and live safer, more dignified lives.
None of this is possible without solidarity. We must unite as a humanitarian community.
We have worked with the International Committee of the Red Cross to build a community of committed organizations through theClimate and Environment Charter for Humanitarian Organizations, to help steer collective action on how we must change and operate differently to address this crisis.
We now have over 220 signatories and three Governments who support the Charter, and the European Union will be adding its signature next week.
We invite you to join us, to make your own commitments and targets and to support others to implement the charter.
As the IPCC report tells us, our window for action is rapidly closing—we have no choice but to be bold and transformational in our actions.
This is why we’ve brought everyone together here today: to build a shared vision on how we can accelerate real and timely action from the humanitarian community.
Your excellencies, colleagues and friends- Barack Obama once said“We are the first generation to feel the effect of climate change and the last generation who can do something about it.”Indeed, we have in our power to do something about it. Thank you.
About the event
The Climate Science and Humanitarian Dialogue was a hybrid virtual/in-person event co-hosted by the Permanent Missions of the Arab Republic of Egypt and the United Kingdom to the United Nations in Geneva and the IFRC, with the collaboration of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). It took place on Friday 25 March 2022.
It convened participants from around the world to discuss the humanitarian implications of the most recent IPCC report on climateimpacts, adaptation and vulnerability—covering topics ranging from anticipatory action to climate-related migration.
| Press release
IFRC warns that the growing heatwave in Europe could have tragic consequences
Budapest, 14 July 2022 - Extreme temperatures have spiraled countries into dangerous heat waves and wildfires across Europe. The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) urges cities and communities to prepare to avoid a further disaster.
Since May, Europe has been among the fastest “heat wave hot spots” in the world. Forecasts show no sign of abating. Many parts of western Europe are experiencing extreme temperatures and countries like Portugal are battling raging wildfires, impacting thousands of people.
“With the climate crisis, this heat is part of our ‘new normal’,” says Maarten Aalst van, Director of the Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre. “These deadly events are now more frequent and more intense.”
In the past ten years, climate- and weather-related disasters have killed more than 400,000 people, affected 1.7 billion others and displaced an average of 25 million people each year world-wide.The people most at risk of heat waves include older people, children, pregnant women, and those with pre-existing health conditions. Heat waves have cascading impacts in other areas of society, such as reduced economic output, strained health systems and rolling power outages.
Staff and volunteers from National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies across the region are supporting communities preparing for and impacted by the heat waves. At the same time, teams are responding to the devastating wildfires most notably in Portugal, but also Spain, Italy, France, Greece and Turkey brought on by the extreme heat.
“Many have had to evacuate their homes with the few things they can carry," saysAna Jorge, President of the Portuguese Red Cross."Our medical teams are focused on ensuring people are getting to safety, providing critical health care to those suffering from burns and other injuries and providing them with a bed to sleep in and the necessities as they decide their next steps.”
With heat waves becoming more likely around the world as the climate crisis worsens, more preparedness and early warning systems are required to reduce and manage the risks.
“People are not always aware of the dangers of heat. But when communities understand the risks and take simple measures to prepare for it, they can prevent unnecessary tragedies,” says van Aalst. “We urge cities and communities to prepare and take the necessary steps to save lives, now and in the long term.”
For more information and to arrange an interview:
In Budapest: Corrie Butler,[email protected]+36 704306506
In Athens: Georgia Trismpioti, [email protected] +30 6971809031
Note to Editors:
IFRC’s Heat Wave Guide for Citiesand Urban Action Kitare resources for city officials, urban planners and community organizations to anticipate and plan for extreme urban heat and reduce deadly risks.
C40’s Urban Cooling Toolboxprovides approaches to lower urban temperatures and reduce the impact of the urban heat effect; the Heat Resilient Cities Benefit Toolhelps city planners and decision-makers quantify the health, economic and environmental benefits of adaptation actions.
A heat wave is an extended period of unusually high temperatures and often high humidity. Extreme heat can cause shock, dehydration and other acute illnesses, and worsen cardiovascular and respiratory diseases.
There is now a mountain of evidence that climate change is increasing the occurrence of deadly heat waves. For instance, scientists have concluded that climate change has made the 2022 heat wave in India and Pakistan 30 times more likely, the 2019 heat wave in western Europe at least 10 times more likely, the 2019-20 heat wave in Australia that contributed to the devastating bushfires 10 times more likely, and that the extreme heat in the northwest US and Canada in 2021 would have been virtually impossible without climate change. For details, see for instance, the World Weather Attribution analyses.
| Press release
Red Cross and Red Crescent leaders commit to accelerate efforts to tackle rising humanitarian challenges
Geneva, 23 June 2022 - The Council of delegates of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement concluded today in Geneva with commitments from Red Cross and Red Crescent leaders and youth representatives from around the world, to work together and scale-up efforts to take urgent action on a range of critical humanitarian issues.
Representatives of 192 National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) passed a series of resolutions to address a range of humanitarian challenges, including; the growing existential threats posed by the climate crisis; the escalating migration crisis; the devastating impacts of war in cities and the need to continue efforts to work towards the elimination of nuclear weapons.
"Urban warfare has a devastating humanitarian impact, including the appallingly high number of civilian deaths, the physical and mental suffering, the destruction of homes and critical civilian infrastructure, the disruption to essential services and the widespread displacement of people. We have seen that sad reality playing out in Libya, Syria, Ukraine and elsewhere. The Red Cross and Red Crescent must mobilise all its influence and resources to meet the challenges that lie ahead,’ said ICRC President Peter Maurer. ‘To be clear: the consequences of urban conflicts are not inevitable. They are the result of the behaviour of the parties fighting in these environments and we call for international humanitarian law to be upheld as an urgent priority’.
IFRC President Francesco Rocca said: “How we work to tackle and mitigate against the impacts of climate change will define our work, not just for the next few years, but for decades to come.
“All over the world, our volunteers and staff are working with people in their communities to help them adapt to the climate crisis and, frankly, they are demonstrating greater readiness, eagerness, and leadership than the majority of our global political leaders. We need action from them, not more words. And now.
“The same goes for the international migrant crisis. The Red Cross Red Crescent Movement speaks of leaving no person behind, of solidarity, and humanity. But, all over the world, we see world leaders failing to take the plight of migrants seriously enough and too easily prepared to neglect the human rights of those fleeing conflict, hunger, persecution, and, of course, those parts of the world where climate change has already done untold damage to their communities.”
Francesco Rocca, IFRC President, was re-elected to serve a second four-year term in office at the IFRC’s General Assembly on 19 June.
For more information on resolutions adopted at the Council of delegates is available here
For other information and interview requests, contact:
IFRC: Benoit Carpentier, Tel: +41 792 132 413 Email: [email protected] Paul Scott -+44 (0)7834 525650 email: [email protected]
ICRC ICRC: Ewan Watson - m. +41 (0)79 244 6470 email: [email protected] ICRC: Crystal Wells - m. +41 (0)79 642 8056 email: [email protected]
For further information about the statutory meetings please visit rcrcconference.org
| Press release
IFRC and C40 Cities urge cities to prepare for more dangerous and deadly heat waves
14 June 2022, Geneva, New York—Heat waves are becoming more frequent, longer, hotter and deadlier, especially in urban areas, but the threats they pose are preventable if cities and residents are prepared for extreme heat and take steps to save lives.
The past seven years, from 2015 to 2021, have been the hottest on record and this year is already a punishing one. The life-threatening temperature spikes seen in recent months across India, Pakistan, East Asia and southern Europe and this week’s unusually intense, early-season heat wave gripping parts of the United States are an ominous sign of what is to come as the world gets warmer.
Every year, increasingly scorching temperatures put millions of people at risk of heat-related illnesses and claim the lives of thousands of others. People living in cities are hardest hit because urban areas are warmer than the surrounding countryside and are getting hotter due to climate change. Those most at risk are already vulnerable—the elderly and isolated, infants, pregnant women, those with pre-existing ailments and the urban poor, who often work outdoors or live and work in buildings without air conditioning or adequate ventilation.
But deaths from heat waves are not inevitable. Five billion people live in places that are prone to heat waves and where early warning systems can predict them before they happen.
“Heat waves are the silent killers of climate change, but they don’t have to be,” says Francesco Rocca, President of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC). “Most heat waves are forecast days or weeks in advance, giving ample time to act early and inform and protect the most vulnerable. The good news is that there are simple and low-cost actions authorities can take to prevent unnecessary deaths from heat.”
Ahead of the summer season in many parts of the world, IFRC is launching its first global Heat Action Day, today, 14 June—mobilizing branches and partners in over 50 cities to hold awareness-raising events about ways to reduce severe impacts of extreme heat.
The IFRC is also partnering with C40 Cities to call on city officials, urban planners, and city residents in every region of the world to prepare for more dangerous and deadly heat waves.
“Cities that are used to hot weather need to prepare for even longer periods of sweltering heat and cooler cities need to prepare for levels of extreme heat that they are not accustomed to,” says Mark Watts, Executive Director of C40 Cities. “From Miami to Mumbai and Athens to Abidjan, mayors in our network are increasing green spaces, expanding cool roof programmes and collaborating on heat actions to improve resilience to rising urban heat. But far more work is needed to reduce andmanage risks as the climate crisis worsens.”
TheC40 Cool Cities Networksupports cities to embed heat risk and management in their climate action plans, develop heat resilience studies, and develop, fine-tune and measure impacts of heat mitigation action, including cooling, greening and emergency management.The network has held intensive workshops on urban heat and equity, developed resources to guide heat action plans and, over the past two years, supported cities in managing the compound crises of extreme heat alongside the COVID-19 pandemic, focusing on outreach to vulnerable populations.
Across the globe, National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies are rising to the extreme heat challenge—supporting and improving local and national heat action plans, spreading messages to the public on heat safety, checking in on the most vulnerable, distributing water, supporting medical services, identifying and setting up cooling centres, and even helping people retrofit their homes to improve shade and reduce heat. They’re also expanding research on heat to parts of Africa, Asia and South America that have been overlooked in the past.
“The climate crisis is driving and intensifying humanitarian crisis in every region of the world,” says Rocca. “But when cities and communities are better prepared, extreme weather doesn’t have to become a disaster or a tragedy.”
Note to Editors:
IFRC’s “Heat Wave Guide for Cities” and “Urban Action Kit” are resources for city officials, urban planners and community organizations to anticipate and plan for extreme urban heat and reduce deadly risks.
C40’s “Urban Cooling Toolbox” provides approaches to lower urban temperatures and reduce the impact of the urban heat effect; the “Heat Resilient Cities Benefit Tool” helps city planners and decision-makers quantify the health, economic and environmental benefits of adaptation actions.
A heat wave is an extended period of unusually high temperatures and often high humidity. Extreme heat can cause shock, dehydration and other acute illnesses, and worsen cardiovascular and respiratory diseases.
There is now a mountain of evidence that climate change is increasing the occurrence of deadly heat waves. Scientists have concluded that climate change has made the 2022 heat wave in India and Pakistan 30 times more likely, the 2019 heat wave in western Europe 100 times more likely and the 2019-20 heat wave in Australia 10 times more likely.
Images and Video for use by media outlets:
Follow thisTwitter thread to access videos and photos of global Heat Action Day events. Heat emergency response images can be accessedhere
For more information or 1:1 interviews, contact:
IFRC: Melissa Winkler, [email protected], +41 76 2400 324
IFRC: Tommaso Della Longa, [email protected], +41 79 708 43 67
C40 Cities: Rolf Rosenkranz, [email protected]
IFRC is the world’s largest humanitarian network, comprising 192 National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies working to save lives, build community resilience, strengthen localization and promote dignity around the world.www.ifrc.org - Facebook-Twitter-YouTube
C40 Citiesis a network of nearly 100 mayors of the world’s leading cities who are working to deliver the urgent action needed right now to confront the climate crisis and create a future where everyone, everywhere can thrive. Mayors of C40 cities are committed to using a science-based and people-focused approach to help the world limit global heating to 1.5°C and build healthy, equitable and resilient communities.www.C40.org-Twitter-Instagram-Facebook-LinkedIn
Nature for people
The IFRC is partnering with WWF, the world's largest environmental conservation organization, to work with nature and protect people from the climate crisis.
| Press release
IFRC, WWF call for global action to protect nature to save lives and address climate crisis
Stockholm, 2 June 2022 - A new report shows that nature-based solutions could reduce the intensity of climate and weather-related hazards by a staggering 26 per cent, in a world where over 3.3 billion people live in places that are highly vulnerable to climate change. The study from the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and WWF highlights how the power of nature to protect people is being overlooked.
The report, “Working with Nature to Protect People: How Nature-based Solutions Reduce Climate Change and Weather-Related Disasters” shows how nature-based solutions can reduce the likelihood of climate change and weather-related events occurring. It sets out how lives can be saved by working with nature-based solutions to prevent exposure to these hazards and support vulnerable communities in adapting to and withstanding the dangers of a warming world. For the first time, the analysis from IFRC and WWF shows that these solutions could provide developing countries with valuable protection against the economic cost of climate change, saving at least US$ 104 billion in 2030 and US$ 393 billion in 2050.
Communities in every region of the world are already experiencing worsening and increasing impacts of climate change, with vulnerable people in low resource countries the hardest hit, and women and children often the most exposed. From 2010 to 2019 alone, sudden-onset climate change and weather-related disasters killed more than 410,000 people.
Jagan Chapagain, IFRC Secretary General said: “The climate crisis is driving multiple humanitarian crises around the world. Its impact on the lives and livelihoods of millions of people is intensifying. Greening nature; restoring forests, farmlands and wetlands are some of the best and most cost-effective ways to support vulnerable communities to adapt to risks and impacts they already face. Protecting nature will protect people.”
Marco Lambertini, Director-General of WWF, said: “Let’s be clear. If we don’t urgently scale up efforts to limit the impacts of a warming world, more lives will be lost, and economies and livelihoods affected. Nature is our greatest ally and also a crucial buffer against climate change. By restoring and protecting it, we can help ecosystems build resilience and continue to provide crucial services to humanity and in particular to the more vulnerable communities.
“Nature-based solutions play a key role in addressing climate change, but the potential benefits of these solutions drop as the global temperature rises - which is why every moment and decision matters to cut emissions and give us the best chance to build a safer and more equitable future.”
Examples of effective nature-based solutions that address climate change include:
Conserving forests to restore degraded land, provide food, guard against droughts and protect communities from strong winds.
Restoring healthy floodplains and wetlands to reduce the impact of floods and promote sustainable agriculture to protect against droughts.
Restoring mangroves and coral reefs to provide a protective barrier from storms, soak up planet-warming carbon dioxide and provide food for local communities and habitats for marine life.
The report kickstarts a partnership between the IFRC and WWF. The report will be launched at Stockholm+50, a UN environmental meeting where leaders will reflect on 50 years of multilateral action. The partnership aims to raise awareness about nature-based solutions and encourage governments, communities, donors, practitioners and the private sector to incorporate nature in their climate adaptation and disaster risk reduction planning.
Notes for editors:
Nature-based solutions are actions to protect, sustainably manage and restore natural or modified ecosystems that address societal challenges and climate change effectively and adaptively, while providing benefits to human well-being and addressing biodiversity loss. Learn more here.
The full report is available for download here.
The report will be launched at an event at Stockholm+50 on 3 June at 13:00 CEST. This UN environmental meeting provides leaders with an opportunity to reflect on 50 years of multilateral action to deliver the bold and urgent progress needed to secure a better future on a healthy planet.
The report describes the enabling factors that have supported successful nature-based solutions initiatives and the challenges that are preventing the scale-up of these solutions. A series of case studies highlights IFRC and WWF’s work in the space, shows the potential of nature-based solutions, provides key lessons to guide practitioners in future implementation, and presents how supportive legal and policy frameworks are critical for scaling-up nature-based solutions for building climate and disaster resilience.
For media queries and interview requests, contact:
WWF International Media team: [email protected]
IFRC: Melis Figanmese, +41 79 202 2033, [email protected]
IFRC: Melissa Winkler, +41 76 240 0324, [email protected]
| Press release
ASEAN and the IFRC partner to strengthen community resilience in Southeast Asia
Jakarta, 25 May 2022 -The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) have committed to promoting and developing their engagement in disaster management with the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between ASEAN and the IFRC on the Strengthening of Community Resilience in Southeast Asia.
The MOU outlines the scope and areas of cooperation between the IFRC and ASEAN to strengthen community resilience at regional, national, and local levels in the ASEAN region, including in areas such as disaster management, disaster risk reduction, disaster law, health in emergencies, disaster relief and emergency response, gender, youth, and climate change. This agreement also marks a significant milestone in ASEAN’s longstanding cooperation with the IFRC which has supported the ASEAN Committee on Disaster Management (ACDM) in the implementation of the ASEAN Agreement on Disaster Management and Emergency Response (AADMER) and its work programmes.
The MOU was signed by the ASEAN Secretary-General H.E. Dato Lim Jock Hoi and the IFRC Secretary General, Mr. Jagan Chapagain, at the sidelines of the Global Platform on Disaster Risk Reduction (GPDRR) in Bali, Indonesia, in the presence of the representatives of the ACDM and the representatives of National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.
At the Signing Ceremony, the two leaders expressed appreciation over the progress of cooperation between ASEAN and the IFRC. Recognizing ASEAN and IFRC’s mutually beneficial roles in strengthening climate adaptation and disaster resilience in vulnerable communities in Southeast Asia, both ASEAN and the IFRC look forward to the implementation of the MOU through collaborative projects in the AADMER Work Programme 2021-2025.
In his remarks, Dato Lim emphasized that “in the face of increasing frequency and intensity of climate-related disasters due to climate change, in one of the world’s most disaster-prone regions, coupled with an increasingly complex humanitarian landscape, we must build strategic partnerships to enhance our resilience as one ASEAN community.”
In Mr. Chapagain’s speech reiterated that “through this partnership our common goal is to put communities in Southeast Asia at the centre by building individual and community capacities that help reduce humanitarian needs and avert loss and damage caused by the climate crisis."
ASEAN countries are located in one of the most disaster-prone regions in the world, ranging from earthquakes, floods, landslides and typhoons. The wide geographic stretch of incidences and increasing frequency and intensity of disasters due to climate change require ASEAN to enhance the region’s readiness and emergency response capacity.
For more information, please email [email protected]
The Climate and Environment Charter for Humanitarian Organizations, one year on
“The scientific evidence is unequivocal: climate change is a threat to human well-being and the health of the planet. Any further delay in concerted global action will miss the brief, rapidly closing window to secure a liveable future.”
The latest reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change present the most urgent and alarming calls to actions we’ve had to date. Its analysis on impacts, adaptation and vulnerability finds that climate change is driving and exacerbating humanitarian crises, and that climate impacts are perpetuating vulnerabilities as well as social and economic inequities. The science now confirms that climate change is not just a future humanitarian concern, but one having devastating impacts already, today – a crisis demanding a scaled-up humanitarian response, now. This is precisely what the Climate and Environment Charter for Humanitarian Organizations aims to do: urgently steer and galvanize a collective humanitarian response to the climate and environmental crises.
The 21st of May marks one year since the Charter was opened for signature. In this post, IFRC Climate Change Coordinator Tessa Kelly and ICRC Policy Advisers Catherine-Lune Grayson and Amir Khouzam highlight the good reasons we have for celebrating, as well as the need to maintain momentum and live up to our commitments.
When the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released the second installment of its sixth assessment report on the impacts of climate change, connections between its findings and humanitarian action were abundantly clear. Protecting the lives and the rights of present and future generations largely depends first and foremost on political will to cut greenhouse gas emissions, halt biodiversity loss and environmental degradation, adapt to rising risks, and address loss and damage associated with the impacts of the crises. Yet humanitarian organizations have a role to play in responding to growing needs and adapting our responses to ensure that we help people adapt to these crises themselves.
It is this recognition that led to the development of the Climate and Environment Charter, a short and aspirational text that calls for a transformational change across the humanitarian sector. Its seven commitments are intended to guide humanitarian organizations in stepping up and improving our humanitarian action to address the climate and environmental crises and reduce humanitarian needs.
The strong support that the Charter has garnered in its first year reflects that humanitarian organizations want to do our part – and so do donors. These are good reasons to celebrate, and to redouble our commitments and accelerate our work. We are already playing catch up, and humanitarian needs continue to rise.
The commitment of the humanitarian sector to do more and better, together, is clear and uplifting.
Over the last year, more than 230 humanitarian organizations have signed the Charter. These signatures represent the full breadth of the humanitarian sector, with organizations of different scales, mandates and approaches joining in – from local NGOs in over 80 countries to international organizations, National Red Cross Red Crescent Societies, UN agencies, and NGO consortiums.
The number of signatories and their diversity tell us a few things.
First, we can read this as affirmation that humanitarian organizations now see the climate and environmental crises as humanitarian priorities that we must address together as local, national and international organizations. We all agree that we also have much to learn from the solutions that communities have designed themselves, from climate scientists to development organizations and farming associations.
We can also read this as a testimony to the value of listening to people, seeking out diverse opinions, and building a sense of community. The Charter is not any one organization’s to claim – it was shaped by hundreds of individuals and organizations across the globe, and we think that this is why so many organizations are happy to be part of this effort.
The support the Charter has received also indicates a consensus on what needs to be done. We have often seen the Charter frame conversations on the role of humanitarian actors in responding to the climate and environment crises. We like to think that this is because the seven commitments captured in the Charter are virtually impossible to disagree with.
Donor countries have joined in, and they also have a clear role to play.
This was a year during which we have seen a growing number of countries commit to supporting a stronger humanitarian response to the climate and environment crises.
The Charter has always been a document for and by humanitarian organizations. As the number of signatories rose, States, government agencies, and other entities noticed, and asked how they could be involved to show their support for the Charter and the ambitions it represents.
This makes sense – in fact, it reflects two core elements of the Charter. First, the Charter highlights the importance of mobilizing urgent and more ambitious climate action and environmental protection. For this, it is essential to have governments and other decision-makers on board. Second, implementing the Charter requires financial and technical support, which requires the support of donors.
In response to this reality, we opened a Supporters category through which States, local and regional governments, government agencies and departments, and private foundations can indicate their support for the Charter. Since this category opened last fall, Switzerland, the United States, Norway and the European Union have formally expressed their support. We hope that many others will follow.
In March, at the European Humanitarian Forum, humanitarian donors were also invited to sign up to a new declaration on climate and the environment announced by the European Commission. The declaration echoes the Charter, as its signatories commit to investing in, preparing for, anticipating and responding to disasters, improving cooperation and partnerships at all levels and reducing the environmental impact of humanitarian activities.
The support for accelerating the implementation of the Climate and Environment Charter is increasingly clear – and we have no time to lose!
As we’ve always said, signing the Charter is the beginning of the journey. The true test is how this changes the way we work and how our commitments make a difference for the people we are working with and for.
Organizations signing the Charter commit to adopting and sharing publicly specific targets and implementation plans that demonstrate how their commitments are being translated into practice. Some 17 organizations have already shared their targets, and many have indicated that theirs are being developed and will be shared shortly. We find this exciting, because we see the targets as a way for organizations to clarify their ambitions, orient their efforts, and by sharing them publicly, learn from one another.
Recently, we surveyed humanitarian organizations on the support that they require to implement the Charter. We received nearly 100 responses from people working in over 100 countries and in every region of the world for international, national, and local NGOs and National Red Cross Red Crescent Societies.
We heard calls for help with developing concrete targets, compiling successful examples and case studies, and developing tools and technical standards for specific sectors. We also heard that peer-to-peer exchanges and direct assistance to develop targets and implementation plans would be extremely valuable forms of support. Moving forward into the Charter’s second year, we will focus on accelerating this area of work.
The support the Charter has seen in its first year is remarkable. It is also only the beginning. This is a work in progress – and we feel that it is moving in the right direction. We are immensely grateful for the strong engagement of humanitarians across the world in driving this effort forward. As a small Charter team, we cannot provide all the support that is critical to implementing the Charter, but we can help by identifying sources of support and making the right connections, and contributing to turning this into a truly collective effort.
Let’s see what the second year brings as we work together to meet the moment.
To sign the Charter and find guidance on its implementation, please visit www.climate-charter.org.
This blog was originally published on the ICRC's Humanitarian Law & Policy blog here.
Heat Action Day
Climate change is turning up the heat around the world. But together, we can #BeatTheHeat! On June 14, Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies performed coordinated heat wave flash mobs in public spaces to raise awareness of heat risks and share simple ways to #BeatTheHeat.
| Press release
Scientists confirm climate change already contributes to humanitarian crises across the world
Geneva, 28 February 2022 – The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) calls for urgent local action and funding, particularly for those most vulnerable, to combat the devastating humanitarian impacts of the climate crisis confirmed in today’s report by world’s climate scientists.
For the first time, the report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) published today notes that climate change is already contributing to humanitarian crises in vulnerable contexts. In addition, climate and weather extremes are increasingly driving displacement in every region of the world.
IFRC Secretary General Jagan Chapagain said:
“The IPCC report confirms what the IFRC and its network of 192 National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies have already witnessed for years: Climate change is already disrupting the lives of billions, particularly the world’s poorest who have contributed the least to it.”
“The global response to COVID-19 proves that governments can act decisively and drastically in the face of imminent global threats. We need the same energy and action to combat climate change now, and we need it to reach the most climate-vulnerable communities across the world so that they have the tools and funding to anticipate and manage risks.”
The report, authored by more than 200 climate experts, reaffirms the key principles that the IFRC network has been calling for to tackle climate change; that local action is key in tackling climate change and that responding to disasters after they happen will never be enough to save lives and combat a crisis of this magnitude.
The latest science confirms, with very high confidence, that climate impacts and risks exacerbate vulnerabilities as well as social and economic inequities. These in turn increase acute development challenges, especially in developing regions and particularly exposed sites, such as coastal areas, small islands, deserts, mountains and polar regions.
Maarten van Aalst, coordinating lead author of the report and Director for the Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre said:
“This report is a flashing red light, a big alarm for where we are today. It tells us in unequivocal scientific language that the window for concerted global action to secure a liveable future is rapidly closing. It demonstrates that all the risks we were concerned about in the past are now are now coming at us much faster.”
“But the report also shows that it is not too late yet. We can still reduce emissions to avoid the worst. Alongside, we’ll have to manage the changes we can no longer prevent. Many of the solutions, such as better early warning systems and social safety nets, have already proven their value. If we raise our ambition to adapt to the rising risks, with priority for the most vulnerable people, we can still avoid the most devastating consequences.”
Notes to editors
National Red Cross Red Crescent Societies not only respond to disasters when they occur, but also play a critical role in preventing hazards such as floods and heatwaves from becoming disasters. Working at the front lines in communities before, during and after disasters, they know what is needed to respond to climate crises and help communities prevent and adapt to the rising risks of climate change. The IFRC aims to support member National Societies to reach 250 million people each year with climate adaptation and mitigation services to reduce suffering and vulnerability.
For more information or to arrange an interview:
In Geneva: Caroline Haga, +358 50 598 0500, [email protected]
Rights-free b-roll and images related to this press release are available to download and use here.
| Press release
Climate Change: Red Cross calls for more investments in local action as European and African leaders meet in Brussels
Nairobi, Kenya. 17 February 2022 – As parts of Southern Africa are reeling from the impacts of tropical storms and cyclones and other parts of the continent are facing severe droughts, the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is calling for urgent investment in local action to combat the effects of climate change. The call comes ahead of the 6th European Union-African Union (EU-AU) Summit which gets underway today in Brussels, Belgium.
Recently, tropical storm Ana in Mozambique, Malawi, and Madagascar, and cyclone Batsirai in Madagascar again, left hundreds of thousands of people displaced, homes destroyed, and infrastructure worth billions of dollars damaged. At the same time, humanitarian organizations in Africa warned this week of a catastrophic hunger crisis in the Horn of Africa (Kenya, Somalia and Ethiopia) where more than 20 million people are feared to face starvation because of prolonged drought. The Sahel and West Africa, particularly Nigeria, also face a deteriorating food security situation.
Mohammed Mukhier, the Regional Director for IFRC Africa said:
“What we are witnessing is a manifestation of the impact of climate change on the continent. We need to strengthen investments in local preventative measures that build people’s ability to cope with these intensifying disasters.”
Countries in Africa are only responsible for four per cent of global carbon emissions, and at the same time disproportionately affected by the widespread consequences of climate change and accelerated environmental degradation. Yet, climate financing pledged by world leaders is slow to reach the people on the ground who are most exposed to climate risks.
Ahead of the Summit, the IFRC calls for renewed efforts to build and implement a new Africa-EU Partnership that would answer to the needs of the most vulnerable people exposed to the impacts of climate change and the environmental crisis, strengthen food and health security and address forced migration. In the longer term, the role of local actors should be strengthened to support communities in building resilience and addressing humanitarian and development challenges on the continent.
Communities in Africa and elsewhere are also increasingly impacted by multiple hazards in addition to the changing climate, which are compounding their vulnerabilities and affecting their capacity to cope.
“Communities can hardly recover before they are hit by another disaster. Madagascar is a case in point where we saw a devastating drought last year, and before those effects could be relieved, some of those same communities have been impacted by cyclone Batsirai recently.” said Andoniaina Ratsimamanga, Secretary-General of the Malagasy Red Cross Society.
To support countries to cope, there is an urgent need to address underlying vulnerabilities in communities, including poverty and marginalization, and providing support to those most exposed to the impacts of climate change. At the same time, there is incredible potential that lies within the African continent to address these challenges, including innovative approaches by young people and women to issues such as land restoration and the use of digital platforms.
For more information, or to request an interview, please contact:
In Nairobi: Euloge Ishimwe, +254 735 437 906, [email protected]
In South Africa: Thandie Mwape, +27 66 486 8455, [email protected]
| Press release
Madagascar: More than 4 million people at risk as Tropical Cyclone Batsirai bears down on eastern coast
Antananarivo/Nairobi, 4 February 2022—Tropical Cyclone Batsirai, is expected to strike the Atsinanana region of Madagascar tomorrow, only weeks after tropical storm Ana wreaked havoc in the country. Ahead of its landfall, Madagascar Red Cross Society’s teams in the region are preparing emergency relief items and helping communities in the path of the cyclone to move to safe areas.
Andoniaina Ratsimamanga, the Secretary General of Madagascar Red Cross said:
“Communities across the Atsinanana region are worried about the potential widespread damage the cyclone could cause. Many families urgently need temporary shelters, especially those whose homes are located in the areas that are likely to be impacted by the cyclone.
It is predicted that about 4.4 million people are at risk across 14 districts; with about 595,000 expected to be directly affected, and more than 150,000 likely to be displaced. Red Cross teams Atsinanana region are rushing to make necessary preparations, with a view to saving as many lives as possible.
“Madagascar Red Cross Society’s teams and partners are on high alert and are deployed in communities, warning them of the approaching storm. Red Cross teams are moving prepositioned emergency stocks from Grand Tana area (Ananalamanga) to Tamatave (Atsinanana), for ease of access. We are concerned by the size and projected impact of this intense cyclone. Our immediate response activities will focus on saving lives, and they will include search and rescue operations,” added Ratsimamanga.
Moreover, Red Cross teams are working with the Government to identify and set up safe buildings which will be utilized as emergency accommodation centres.
With emergency response efforts still ongoing due to the impact of tropical storm Ana that hit the Madagascar in late January, the impact of Batsirai could worsen the overall country’s humanitarian situation. The country’s emergency response efforts are overstretched, and the situation remains critical due to the impact of the recent widespread flooding, water stagnation and landslides caused by tropical storm Ana. At least 55 deaths have been recorded and more than 130,000 people have been forced to flee their homes to temporary shelters or host families in the last few weeks. The country is still grappling with a prolonged hunger crisis since 2021. IFRC and its partners are stepping up preparedness and response efforts, to assist more people—both those affected by Ana and those that are likely to be impacted by Batsirai
IFRC’s Programmes and Operations Coordinator in Madagascar, Denis Bariyanga, who is overseeing emergency preparedness efforts, said.
“We are already helping 2000 families affected by tropical storm Ana to meet their immediate needs. With the landfall of Batsirai, many more families in the country will require emergency relief items, including blankets, sleeping mats, kitchen sets, water, sanitation and hygiene, among others.”
The IFRC had already released 428,609 Swiss francs from its Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF) on 26 January 2022, to support Madagascar Red Cross to provide water, sanitation, and hygiene services, healthcare, and psychosocial support, as well as cash assistance for shelter, livelihood and basic needs. More financial resources are needed to meet the increasing needs on the ground. IFRC is revising its emergency appeal for funding the crisis response.
For more information, or to request an interview, please contact:
Mialy Caren Ramanantoanina, +261 329 842 144, [email protected]
Ny Antsa Mirado Rakotondratsimba, +261 34 54 458 76, [email protected]
Denis Bariyanga, (WhatsApp: +250 786 527 056), [email protected]
María Mercedes Martínez; +261 32 1132 624, [email protected]
Euloge Ishimwe, +254 735 437 906, [email protected]
| Press release
Syria: Extremely harsh winter raises acute humanitarian needs to highest level ever
Damascus/Beirut, 27 January 2022–Extreme winter conditions are putting communities already overwhelmed by overlapping crises in immediate danger, resulting in the highest level of acute humanitarian needs ever in Syria, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) warns. In many areas, this winter has been one of the coldest in the past decade, with snowstorms and sub-zero temperatures.
IFRC is deeply concerned about the situation in the country as the number of people in need of humanitarian assistance has reached the highest since the start of the crisis. According to the UN, a total of 14.6 million people needs support, 1.2 million more than in 2021. 6.9 million people are internally displaced.
Mads Brinch Hansen, Head of the IFRC Delegation in Syria, said:
“Exceptionally cold weather is making the lives of many people all around Syria even more difficult, especially the displaced communities living in temporary shelters who don’t have appropriate clothing or heating for sub-zero temperatures.
“The situation in Syria is worse than ever. The price of basic commodities such as food and fuel has skyrocketed making them unaffordable for the majority of people, escalations of violence are intensifying, and COVID-19 continues to put an extra burden on communities. At the same time, funding for humanitarian actors is shrinking.”
Eng. Khaled Hboubati, President of the Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC), said:
“Daily, our volunteers in Hassakeh and everywhere in Syria see more people who are asking for support, more children who are without winter clothes in the middle of the storm. The situation is getting worse amid the COVID-19 pandemic and the economic sanctions that complicate our humanitarian response.
“We will continue doing our best to alleviate the suffering of millions of people and preserve their dignity. We need the support from partners and donors to restore the livelihoods of people and ensure sustainable solutions to accelerate the recovery.”
Hassakeh, where up to 45,000 people have been displaced by recent violence at Sina'a Prison, is one of the hardest-hit regions with sub-zero temperatures making the winter one of the coldest in recent history. Snow has also covered the Al-Hol camp, which hosts more than 60,000 displaced people.
SARC continues to be the main humanitarian actor in the country with thousands of volunteers responding to the acute needs caused by the conflict, economic crisis, and COVID-19 as well as the cold wave.
In Hassakeh, SARC has a key role in evacuating as well as providing medical services and drinking water for the newly displaced and the communities hosting them.
Almost 11 years since the start of the conflict, Syria continues to be one of the biggest and most complex humanitarian crises globally. Homes and whole cities have been utterly destroyed, forcing mass displacement.
According to the UN, 90 percent of the population in Syria lives below the poverty line and 70 percent are facing acute food shortages – figures that have not seen improvement in recent years due to the economic downturn, instability and disasters driven by climate change. In 2021, Syria faced the worst drought in more than 50 years.
To scale up the Syrian Arab Red Crescent's humanitarian response and meet the growing needs, IFRC calls for partners and donors to continue showing their solidarity towards the people in Syria. Funding is more urgent than ever to ensure Syrian people can cover their basic needs and maintain a life of dignity.
For more information:
In Beirut: Jani Savolainen, IFRC, [email protected], +961 70372812
In Damascus: Rahaf Aboud, Syrian Arab Red Crescent, [email protected], +963 959999853
IFRC Syria Country Plan
For the editors:
About the Syrian Arab Red Crescent:
The Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC) is the main humanitarian actor in Syria. It has more than 13,500 staff members and volunteers in 14 branches and 97 sub-branches nationwide. Annually SARC reaches 5.6 million people with humanitarian assistance.
About the IFRC:
The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is the world’s largest humanitarian network, comprising 192 National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies working to save lives and promote dignity around the world. With a permanent delegation in Syria since 2007, IFRC has played a pivotal role in providing humanitarian services and supporting the Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC) in their organisational and strategic development and in strengthening SARC’s operational capacity.
| Press release
EU and IFRC support people affected by the water crisis and drought in Syria
Damascus, 3 December 2021 – In response to the severe water crisis and drought in Syria, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) has released 748,000 CHF (709,000 EUR) from its Disaster Relief Emergency Fund.
The European Union is providing CHF 158.000 (150,000 EUR) in humanitarian funding to assist the most affected people. The funding is part of the EU's overall contribution to the Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF) of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).
The funds released to the IFRC will help the Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC) cater to the humanitarian needs of 15,000 people with food and health interventions over six months in Al Raqqa and Deir-ez-Zor, which are some of the most affected localities.
Since January 2021, Syria has been witnessing extreme drought conditions coupled with unprecedented low water levels of the Euphrates River leading to poor agricultural production and loss of livelihoods. Millions of people are now experiencing worsening food insecurity and increasing malnutrition rates.
The Syrian Arab Red Crescent volunteers and community health promoters will distribute food parcels and engage in hygiene promotion and disease prevention through awareness-raising about waterborne diseases and COVID-19.
Through the European Commission's Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations department, 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 European Union provides assistance to the most vulnerable people on the basis of humanitarian needs.
The European Union is signatory to a €3 million humanitarian delegation agreement with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) to support the Federation's Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF). Funds from the DREF are mainly allocated to “small-scale” disasters – those that do not give rise to a formal international appeal.
The Disaster Relief Emergency Fund was established in 1985 and is supported by contributions from donors. Each time a National Red Cross or Red Crescent Society needs immediate financial support to respond to a disaster, it can request funds from the DREF.For small-scale disasters, the IFRC allocates grants from the Fund, which can then be replenished by the donors. The delegation agreement between the IFRC and EU humanitarian aid enables the latter to replenish the DREF for agreed operations (that fit in with its humanitarian mandate) up to a total of €3 million.
For more information, please contact:
Rana Sidani Cassou, Head of Communications – IFRC MENA: Mobile +41766715751 / +33675945515 [email protected]
Anouk Delafortrie, Regional Information Officer – European Humanitarian Aid MENA: Mobile +962 777 57 0203 [email protected]
| Press release
“We need to do better” – IFRC report reveals gaps in child protection during climate related disasters
Kingston, Jamaica – November 19, 2021. Adolescents overwhelmingly feel that they do not have the information needed to be safe from potential violence, abuse, and exploitation in climate related disasters. This is one of the main findings of “We Need to Do Better: Climate Related Disasters, Child Protection and Localizing Action in the Caribbean,” a recent study conducted by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).
The report has revealed that even though climate related disasters affect each person in the region, children are particularly at risk. They make up a large portion of the population of the Caribbean and are most vulnerable to encountering violence, abuse, and exploitation in disaster settings, while systems to protect them do not always work. The study also highlights that there are no specific laws in place to protect children from violence, abuse and exploitation when disasters happen.
Gurvinder Singh, IFRC’s Child Protection Senior Advisor and one of the authors of the report, said:
“While children potentially have great leadership and innovation capabilities, unfortunately, their voices are rarely being sought out or heard. Furthermore, there is a huge deficit in meaningful opportunities for children to be engaged in decisions that affect them. This is especially prominent in the stages of preparing for and responding to disasters. Adolescents believe that even if they do participate, their opinions may not be taken seriously by adults.”
By putting the voices, perspectives, and ideas of children at the forefront, the report seeks to understand the generally unexplored relationships between climate related disasters and children’s concerns around violence, abuse, exploitation, and mental health challenges. It also sends a warning to governments and civic organisations to play a more active role in the promotion of and respect for the rights of the child, especially with regards to the issue of child abuse and the need for urgent effective prevention programmes.
Ariel Kestens, IFRC’s Head of Delegation for the Dutch-and English-speaking Caribbean, said:
“It is critical that governments enhance domestic laws, invest in child protection systems, improve local coordination, train local responders, include protection and climate change in school curriculum, and collect sex-, age- and disability-disaggregated data in disaster responses. The IFRC Network across the Caribbean stands ready to support them to continue striving to meet the best interests of each child affected by more and more frequent, and destructive climate related disasters.”
The report also recommends practical actions for the humanitarian sector, such as designing child-friendly communications, implementing community feedback mechanisms, including child protection in anticipatory action, integrating child protection across preparedness, assessments and planning, and creating spaces for children and adults to engage, support one another and find viable solutions to protection risks.
The study was based on discussions and an online survey with 198 adolescents ages 14-17 years in the Bahamas, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago; interviews with 30 adults from different disaster and child protection agencies, and background research. It is part of the campaign “We Need to Do Better” by the IFRC to enhance protection of children in climate related disasters.
The full report may be accessed here. The adolescent summary of the report is available here.
For more information, please contact:
In Jamaica: Trevesa DaSilva | +876 818-8575 | [email protected]
In Panama: Susana Arroyo Barrantes | + 506 8416 1771 | [email protected]
| Press release
IFRC and TNC urge governments to invest in climate change adaptation measures to tackle the climate crisis
Kingston, Jamaica – November 15, 2021: The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and The Nature Conservancy (TNC) are calling for governments to urgently invest in climate change adaptation measures to tackle the growing climate crisis in the Caribbean.
The call follows two key climate events - the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of Parties (COP26) and the 7th Regional Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction in the Americas and the Caribbean (RP21).
In the Caribbean, storm events account for US$7 billion in losses in average per year (or US$135 billion between 1990 and 2008). Research indicates that 70% of people in the Caribbean live near the coast, where vulnerability to climate change is higher. Studies have also shown that the impacts of climate change are unevenly weighted against the most underserved people – those who are the poorest, most exposed and have the least resources to withstand climate shocks and stresses. In addition, data from the IFRC’s World Disasters Report 2020 reveals that international climate and disaster risk reduction finance are not keeping pace with climate adaptation needs in low-income countries, and the countries with the very highest risk and lowest adaptive capacities are not being prioritized. In fact, less than 1 US dollar per person was made available for climate adaptation funding in high vulnerability countries.
“The priority and focus should be the communities that are most exposed and vulnerable to climate risks and the Caribbean region has proven to be one of the most susceptible to climate-related disasters. Therefore, governments must ensure that all efforts and actions to address climate change must prioritize, and not leave behind, those most prone to its impacts,” said Velda Ferguson Dewsbury, IFRC Project Manager for the Resilient Islands by Design (RI) imitative in the Caribbean.
Red Cross societies are on the forefront of helping communities to prepare for, respond to, and recover from climate-related disasters and see, every day, the rising risks for vulnerable people. Through projects like the Resilient Islands, the IFRC in partnership with TNC, has been working with communities to help them find innovative, low-cost, and sustainable nature-based adaptation and risk reduction measures.
“Climate change isn’t a distant threat - it is happening now. We have all seen the visible impacts of climate change before our eyes such as more extreme weather and natural disasters, chronic drought and economic instability. While our work with the Red Cross is helping at-risk communities across the Caribbean to adapt to climate change, with the power of nature, we need more investments in these and other communities and we need joint actions from all relevant stakeholders,” said Eddy Silva, TNC RI Project Manager.
The IFRC and TNC are working with communities in the Dominican Republic, Grenada and Jamaica helping them protect and restore natural habitats, such as mangroves, that help reduce the impact of severe storms and floods. Studies indicate that up to 65% of the increase in projected economic losses due to climate change could be averted through timely adaptation to climate change. In addition, nature-based solutions to minimize climate change can reduce 37% of greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.
Resilient Islands incorporates ecosystem-based disaster risk reduction (Eco-DRR) measures, that harness natural systems to prevent and reduce natural hazards and climate change impacts. For example, by protecting and supporting the growth of coral reefs that provide cost-effective natural barriers, protecting our coasts from waves, storms and floods, or by planting more mangrove trees, which grow roots that mitigate coastal erosion, provide food and other services, and serve as nurseries for a diversity of fish species. These actions help communities reduce their exposure to hazards by identifying and lessening their vulnerabilities while at the same time enhancing their livelihood sources, as well as building their capacities and resilience to prepare for and respond to emergencies.
The RI initiative aims to protect Caribbean people against the impacts of climate change not just by promoting the use of natural coastal and marine habitats to reduce risks, but also by helping governments, partners and communities implement sustainable development plans that prioritize nature. Resilient Islands is part of the International Climate Initiative (IKI). The Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU) supports this initiative on the basis of a decision adopted by the German Bundestag.
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 Washington, D.C.: Claudia Lievano | +1 786 230-6144 | [email protected]
In Geneva: Marie Claudet | +33 7 86 89 50 89 | [email protected]
| Press release
COP26: More than vague promises are needed to save millions of lives
Geneva, 13 November 2021 - No country in the world can ignore the catastrophic impacts of climate change. Big and small, from the global North and South, they all came together in Glasgow to address the greatest threat of our time.
Our message over the past two weeks has been loud and clear -- promises are not enough.
We welcome the commitment to stay below 1.5 degrees of warming, but worry that specific commitments to meet this target remain too vague.
We are particularly disappointed that COP26 did not deliver the finance needed to support communities at the frontlines of the climate crisis.While new commitments to increase adaptation finance for the poorest and most vulnerable countries were made, we need a much stronger will to provide accessible, high-quality finance to address the challenges that will only multiply in the years to come. We must make sure that this funding reaches the local communities that are hit first and worst so that they can prepare for, adapt and respond to the ever-increasing threats.
More support is also needed to help countries and communities that are already struggling to cope every day; where the limits of adaptation have been reached and losses and damages has already been experienced. Our volunteers and staff across the world have been confronting these consequences for years, so it is an illusion to believe that we are not already paying the price of inaction.
We will do our part. Together with the International Committee of the Red Cross we developed the Climate and Environment Charter for Humanitarian Organizations, which now has over 170 signatories. In this charter we all commit to greening our operations and to scaling up our climate action, building resilience wherever we work.
As the world’s largest humanitarian network present in 192 countries, we will do our best to support communities facing the devastating impacts. We ask the same of our world leaders, we cannot do this alone. Glasgow opened the door to further discussions and we are committed to working together with governments and other organizations to find effective solutions to address this growing crisis.
COP26 represents a small step in the right direction. What the world needs is a massive leap. It is time to hold our leaders accountable. We need pledges to be realized and commitments turned into action.
Millions of lives are at stake but it’s not too late. Yet.
To request an interview or for more information, please contact:
In London: Teresa Goncalves, +44 7891 857 056, [email protected]
Note to editors
Climate experts also available for interview.
| Press release
“COP26 has not gone far enough" says IFRC Secretary General
Geneva, 9 November 2021 – Jagan Chapagain, IFRC Secretary General, is in Glasgow to make sure that the voices of the most vulnerable communities around the globe are heard and words are translated into action.
He is joined by National Red Cross and Red Crescent Society representatives from communities hardest hit by climate change - including Fiji, Kenya, Pakistan, South Africa and Vietnam - who have been sharing the dramatic experiences of communities on the frontline.
At COP26, Jagan Chapagain made the following statements:
“COP26 has not gone far enough to help people on the frontline of the climate crisis. The most vulnerable people, often those who have contributed the least to global warming, are paying the highest price. Humanitarian response cannot keep pace with a crisis of this magnitude, we need to make sure communities are more resilient in the face of rising risks -- including resources to anticipate and act ahead of rising risks and to cope with the devastating impacts. Vulnerable communities need action now, not words.
Global leaders are making progress, but the commitments at COP26 so far are too small and unbalanced. We need more support for adaptation and loss and damage. And we need to make sure this funding really reaches the most vulnerable communities. COP26 fails if it fails to support the resilience of the most vulnerable people already experiencing catastrophic climate impacts.
The world’s major emitters must lead, take responsibility, and help those who are most vulnerable to climate change adapt and become more resilient. This is critical to protect and save lives.”
To request an interview or for more information, please contact:
In Geneva: Marie Claudet +33 7 86 89 50 89, [email protected]
In Glasgow: Pasca Lane +44 7 982 004 859, [email protected]
In Glasgow: Melis Figanmese +41 79 202 20 33, [email protected]
In London: Joe Cross, +44 7 833 173 845, [email protected]