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.
Climate-smart disaster risk reduction programming resources
Our vision is for communities around the world to be more resilient to, and better prepared for, the impacts of natural hazards—now and in the future. Discover the resources, tools and guidance we’ve produced to help our network and partners with their work in climate-smart disaster risk reduction.
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 will preform coordinated heat wave flash mobs in public spaces to raise awareness of heat risks and share simple ways to #BeatTheHeat.
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.
The IPCC report on impacts, adaptation and vulnerability has effectively launched us into a new era.
An era where the whole world sees the climate crisis as 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 driving displacement, causing health issues, as well as flood and drought-induced food 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 ambitious Global Climate Platform aimed 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 the Climate 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
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
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
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.
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 the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), developed the Climate 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.
The 13th Mediterranean Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies closes with the adoption of the Sarajevo Declaration
Red Cross and Red Crescent leaders in the Mediterranean have reaffirmed their commitments embodied in the Sarajevo Declaration, which set out their priorities across the region for the coming four years.By fostering the dialogue among the Mediterranean National Societies and responding to the common humanitarian challenges, the Declaration reflects as key priorities: Migration, Social Inclusion, Raising awareness on Trafficking in Human Beings, Youth Engagement, Women’s leadership, and Climate Change.These were the main outcomes of the 13th Mediterranean Conference, participated by more than 130 humanitarian professionals and volunteers from 21 Mediterranean National Societies and Movement partners, hosted in Sarajevo by the Red Cross Society of Bosnia and Herzegovina.“We have a lot of challenges in common,” said Francesco Rocca, President of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC). “Now the focus is on migration, but this region is also prone to natural disasters, living the consequences of the climate change. So, it’s very important that we seek, discuss and find common strategies to improve the lives of our communities.”„It’s the first time our National Society hosted such a large-scale international event,” said Hasan Topalovic, President of the Assembly of the Red Cross Society of Bosnia and Herzegovina. ”The Conference had the spirit of mutual understanding and trust, and we will continue working on the commitments with endurance and dedication.”
| 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]
| Press release
IFRC President, Francesco Rocca at COP26: "We don’t have any more time to waste”
Geneva, 2 November 2021 – 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.”
To request an interview with Francisco Rocca in Glasgow or virtually, please contact:
In Glasgow from 31/10 till 03/11: Tommaso Della Longa, +41 79 708 43 67, [email protected]
In Geneva: Marie Claudet +33 7 86 89 50 89, [email protected]
In Glasgow from 02/11 till 05/11: Joe Cross, +44 7 833 173 845, [email protected]
Joint statement on enhanced local action to achieve ambitions in addressing climate change
October 29, 2021 – Six years after the adoption of the Paris Agreement, COP26 will be critical to catalyse global action on climate change. COP26 marks the first time since COP21 that Parties are expected to commit to enhanced climate action. It is a critical moment not only for the signatory states to the Paris Agreement, but for all sectors.
Every part of the world is experiencing the effects of climate change, both on the environment and on people. With the warming planet, disasters like wildfires, heatwaves, and flooding are becoming more frequent and destructive, meanwhile sea-levels continue rising. This is NOT a common future that we wish to share. Urgent action is needed now, not only to halt the warming of the climate, but to address the humanitarian impacts of climate change and to support communities to adapt.
The Paris Agreement is a global commitment that every signatory state will need to implement, underpinned by locally led adaptation action, engaging and supporting local communities most impacted by climate change. As the COP26 Presidency, the United Kingdom is committed to working with all countries and joining forces with people on the frontlines of climate change, including National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (National Societies) which bring together 14 million volunteers across 192 countries. Part of this effort is encouraging partners to join the Adaptation Action Coalition (AAC) for collaboration on delivering solutions on adaptation and resilience, and a commitment to consult with others on effective ways to avert, minimise and address loss and damage.
Today, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and its members represent the largest humanitarian network in the world. National Societies as auxiliaries to their public authorities in the humanitarian field are in a unique position to support their governments in taking the necessary steps to address the humanitarian impacts of climate change. We have seen this collaboration reduce disaster and climate risks and help to build resilient communities. For example, following significant UK heatwaves in Summer 2020, the British Red Cross published new research this year—'Feeling the Heat'—on the increasing impact of extreme heat in the UK, offering practical advice—'Heatwave checklist'— to help people stay safe, well and adapt.
National Societies are supporting locally led adaptation, including disaster preparedness and risk reduction, anticipatory action, nature-based solutions, as well as in cooperation with governments integrating climate adaptation and disaster risk reduction into law, policy and practical action. Collaboration is also taking place through the leading work of the RiskInformed Early Action Partnership (REAP), the Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF), and the Anticipation Hub.
Understanding: i) the unique role played by the IFRC and National Societies as auxiliaries to their public authorities in the humanitarian field; ii) the priorities of the UK COP26 Presidency on adaptation and resilience, to protect communities and natural habitats; and iii) our shared commitment to working together to deliver, we are issuing this joint statement to call upon:
● Governments, at national, sub-national, and local levels, to include National Societies in relevant climate adaptation and disaster risk reduction processes, so they can, with their experience and knowledge as well as their access to communities, contribute to the realisation of the Paris Agreement; and
● National Societies, to connect and continue supporting relevant ministries of their governments and actively participate in national adaptation and disaster risk reduction policy-making, planning and implementation processes, championing locally-led adaptation which supports and engages the most climate vulnerable. Let’s be ambitious. Let’s take bold action to tackle the climate crisis and build a resilient future for all.
Mike Adamson CEO British Red Cross
Jagan Chapagain Secretary General International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC)
The RT Hon. AnneMarie Trevelyan MP Secretary of State for International Trade; COP26 Champion on Adaptation and Resilience United Kingdom Government
| Press release
Red Cross Red Crescent report reveals extent of the impact on people forced to flee their homes by floods, fires and drought around the world
Geneva, 28 October 2021 – A new report by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and the British Red Cross sheds light on the devastating impact of the climate crisis happening today across the globe: the displacement of people from their homes, their lands, and their countries.
National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies are at the forefront of this emergency across the world. Through an analysis of climate-related displacement data across 11 countries – Australia, Fiji, Germany, Honduras, Iraq, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Samoa, Tuvalu and Yemen – the report provides new insights into their work to assist displaced communities, but also into the measures taken to prevent displacement when possible.
Jagan Chapagain, IFRC Secretary General, said:
“Drought in Iraq, bushfires in Australia, floods in Germany, cyclones in Mozambique – climate-related disasters are happening everywhere right now forcing millions of people to leave their homes. At COP26 and beyond, we will make clear that urgent action and investment at the local level is needed to protect communities from climate-related displacement and to respond to its devastating impact when it occurs.”
The latest data from the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC) shows that in 2020, 30.7 million people were internally displaced by disasters. This is more than three times as many people displaced by conflict and violence. Weather-related events such as floods and storms, but also wildfires, landslides, extreme temperatures, and drought accounted for almost all the disaster-related displacements.
The research finds that displacement creates devastating humanitarian impacts and disproportionately affects already marginalized groups, including people with existing health conditions, children, and indigenous communities. The case studies of the German Red Cross and the Mozambique Red Cross illustrate how displacement can cause existing health conditions to worsen and new health risks to emerge. In Iraq, climate change has increased the risks to children’s health, nutrition and cognitive development. Climate change also poses a real threat for indigenous communities for whom the destruction of sacred spaces, flora and fauna represent an irreplaceable loss as highlighted by the Australian Red Cross.
In a world where overlapping crises have become the new normal, underlying vulnerabilities and humanitarian challenges are also exacerbated. In Yemen, for instance, where conflict collides with extreme flooding and the spread of diseases, millions of people have become internally displaced. With its local presence across the country, the Yemen Red Crescent can reach disaster-affected people even in active conflict zones to provide health and psychosocial support, food, and essential items.
Ezekiel Simperingham, the IFRC's migration lead said:
“We need to act locally before communities are displaced and invest in adaptation and early action to combat climate risks. Climate financing must empower communities to react and respond, particularly those with the highest risks and the lowest capacities.”
You can read the full report here.
For more information or to arrange an interview, contact:
In Geneva: Marie Claudet, +33 786 89 50 89, [email protected]
Climate change is not only a threat to the future of our planet, it is already driving humanitarian crises around the world. We are calling for urgent action to save lives now and in the years to come.
Statement on behalf of the 160 signatories to the Climate and Environment Charter for Humanitarian Organizations to the 26th UNFCCC COP
The latest scientific evidence, including the most recent IPCC report, reconfirms the truth of those words. Our planet is in a period of accelerating climate and environmental crises, the effects of which are being felt by all of us. As humanitarian organizations, we see this every day in our work.
As the world prepares to come together for COP26 in Glasgow in November, we urge negotiators to bear in mind the humanitarian consequences of their decisions. Climate-related disasters have nearly doubled in the past 20 years and weather-related hazards are now the number one driver of internal displacement, affecting most notably the poorest and most marginalized people. The climate crisis is adding an additional layer of stress to humanitarian organizations that are already stretched thinner than ever before. Urgent and ambitious action is needed to cut greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to rising risks, so that we can avert the most disastrous consequences on people and the environment. Without ambitious climate action, humanitarian organizations will struggle to respond to increasing needs.
Even in the best-case scenarios over the coming years, we know that a certain amount of climate change and environmental degradation is set to occur, and that their humanitarian consequences are likely to increase. We must consider individual characteristics such as age, gender, and legal status, as well as structural situations that affect people’s exposure to risk, to ensure that people who are most vulnerable to those consequences receive the support they need to protect themselves and their livelihoods.
When we signed the Charter, we committed to scale up our action, reduce risks and vulnerability, and support those most at risk. We pledged to act upon local leadership and experience, to invest in durable responses, and to draw on and amplify local and indigenous knowledge. We promised to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions, minimize the damage we cause to the environment, and reduce our waste, and to share information, insights, and resources so that the impact of our efforts is amplified.
We know that radical transformation is needed. We are determined to act, urgently and intentionally, and we call on everyone, across the humanitarian sector and beyond, to do the same.
Signatories to the Climate and Environment Charter for Humanitarian Organizations
The Charter is open for signature by all humanitarian organizations. Information about the Charter and guidance on its implementation are available at www.climate-charter.org
| Press release
Ahead of COP26, Red Cross Red Crescent Movement’s five asks to world leaders: “It is not too late to act: the survival of humanity depends on the actions we take today”
The following joint statement can be attributed to the Presidents of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) ahead of COP26, on the last day of the Red Cross Red Crescent Movement Summit on pandemics, climate change and local action:
Today, the COVID-19 pandemic and the climate crisis are affecting every aspect of our lives and societies, including our physical and mental wellbeing, our livelihoods, and our economies. The poorest and the most vulnerable, who have contributed least to the climate crisis, are being hit hardest.
In the lead-up to COP26, the Red Cross Red Crescent Movement is urging world leaders to act now for rapid and drastic reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, and at the same time to urgently address the existing and imminent humanitarian impacts of climate change, taking into account the lessons learned from the COVID-19 crisis.
Around the world, poor and vulnerable communities are facing multiple crises at once. The layered effects of extreme-weather events, food insecurity, COVID-19 and conflicts, are putting millions of lives at risk and creating unprecedented humanitarian needs. Climate change is functioning as a risk multiplier, with increasingly devastating impacts. Since the beginning of the pandemic, climate-related disasters have severely affected the lives of at least 139 million people. Of the 25 countries most vulnerable to climate change, 14 are also mired in conflict. And yet these very communities and countries are among the most neglected by climate finance. This needs to change.
No state or organization can do this alone. The Red Cross Red Crescent Movement is committed to playing its part in the global efforts to stem the climate crisis.
We have witnessed the ‘Power of Many’, as millions of volunteers from National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, stepped up to help curb the global pandemic. As auxiliaries to their government in the humanitarian field, National Societies are key players in the climate crisis. Our staff and volunteers are on the front lines in communities across the world before, during and after disasters hit. They also provide advice to their authorities in strengthening disaster risk governance through well drafted disaster-related laws which enable effective preparedness, response and coordination. They are supporting people affected to build their resilience for future shocks and supporting authorities to strengthen their preparedness and prevention measures.
We are also reducing the environmental impact and greenhouse gas emissions from our programmes and operations and calling on others to do the same. The Climate and Environment Charter for Humanitarian Organizationshas rallied to date more than 150 National Societies, small NGOs and large international organizations ready to work together to turn their commitments into tangible action.
The survival of humanity depends on the actions we take today to mitigate climate change and adapt to its impacts. It is not too late to act, and world leaders gathering at COP26 must rise to the challenge.
These are the Red Cross Red Crescent Movement’s five asks to world leaders:
Ensure a focus on the most vulnerable. We must prioritize the needs of the most vulnerable people, including marginalized groups, people in crises and those displaced. We must understand their risks, vulnerabilities, and capacities to be more resilient, and ensure they are informed and included in global, national and local decisions and plans. Inclusive decision making at every level is essential.
Increase finance for adaptation that targets the most vulnerable countries and communities. Vital mitigation efforts need to be accompanied by strong support to climate adaptation, which remains underfunded and underprioritized.
Invest in preparedness, enable more preventive and early action. We are already confronting losses and damages in a more volatile climate. And yet, responding reactively won’t be enough in a crisis of this magnitude. We must invest in preparedness across sectors, and in risk analysis to better anticipate potential climate disasters for early action.
Turn global commitments into local action. Global and national climate action plans often fail to empower those at risk to take effective local action. It is essential to support local institutions and organizations such as National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies through investment in institutional capacities, and in access to adaptation finance and decision-making processes.
Protect the environment, including through adherence to international humanitarian law (IHL). Environmental degradation exacerbates vulnerabilities. IHL protects the natural environment and limits environmental degradation. Respect for IHL prevents the deeply interlinked civilian harm that accompanies environmental damage in armed conflict.
The climate crisis is here, today; it will only worsen in the future. The world must take steps now to mitigate its severity and its effects on the world’s most vulnerable. COP26 is an opportunity to reduce the damage. It’s an opportunity we all must seize together.
Francesco Rocca, President of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC)
Peter Maurer, President of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)
For more information or to arrange an interview, contact:
Tommaso Della Longa, IFRC, +41 79 708 43 67, [email protected]
Aurélie Lachant, ICRC, +41 79 244 6405, [email protected]
Donors pledge increased support to the IFRC’s Disaster Response Emergency Fund (DREF)
Climate-related disasters are occurring with increasing frequency and intensity around the world. But most go unseen—devastating lives, infrastructure and economies without attention, resources or help.
Local and rapid response is what's needed the most. But often the Red Cross or Red Crescent in disaster-hit countries lacks the resources or capacity to respond, especially if they are tackling multiple crises.
That's where the DREF makes all the difference. It’s a central pot of money through which the IFRC channels global funds rapidly and directly to our National Societies for early action and immediate disaster response.
To address the massive humanitarian impacts of climate-related disasters and COVID-19, investment must come at the community level where it has the greatest impact. The DREF brings aid straight into the hands of people in need and builds the capacity of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies who are best placed to deliver it.
IFRC Secretary General
Since launching in 1985, the IFRC has supported 200 million people in crisis worldwide through the DREF.
The DREF Pledging Conference, held on 18 October and co-chaired by the IFRC and the European Union, sought to grow this life-saving and innovative fund to CHF 100 million per year as of 2022, and up to CHF 300 million by 2025, to address the alarming rise in disasters and to support millions more people.
The European Union continues to support the Disaster Relief Emergency Fund. It is a concrete example of our commitment to localization. Through this fund, our resources have been channelled to populations with the most pressing needs, in an open and direct manner.
European Commissioner for Crisis Management
The IFRC is grateful to the following partners who pledged new, or renewed, funding to the DREF during the conference:
Government of Australia
Government of Belgium
Government of Canada
Government of Germany
Government of Ireland
Government of Korea
Government of Luxembourg
Government of the Netherlands
Government of Norway
Government of Sweden
Government of Switzerland
Government of the United Kingdom
Japanese Red Cross
White & Case LLP
We also would like to thank the respective National Societies from the above countries for their support to the DREF and for their continued engagement with their governments.
Watch: meet some of the people around the world who we've supported through the DREF
For more information about the DREF or the pledging conference:
Visit this page on our website
Download our DREF Annual Plan 2021 and DREF Strategic Ambition 2021-2025
Contact Florent Del Pinto (Manager, Emergency Operations Centre) [email protected] or Ivana Mrdja (Manager, National Society and Government Partners) [email protected]
| Press release
New #ClimateChangedMe campaign sounds a global alarm: “The climate crisis is here, and we need to act now.”
Geneva, 4 October 2021 – The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) launched today an innovative campaign showcasing the impact of climate change on people’s lives across the globe. The campaign, #ClimateChangedMe, takes a twist on a typical “self-help” book and presents climate change as the “ultimate life-changing experience”.
Ahead of the campaign launch, the IFRC has gathered over 100 voices from community members, volunteers, and activists, also including Greta Thunberg and Fridays for Future. During short video clips, people describe how the climate crisis has already impacted their lives and ask the question: “Climate changed me. Will my story change you?”. In the run-up to COP26, the user-generated campaign will continue to gather stories, which will be collated and released as an e-book.
Speaking about the #ClimateChangedMe campaign, Greta Thunberg said:
“The climate crisis isn’t some unknown problem we can postpone. It is here now and has already had catastrophic impacts on people’s lives. In every region of the world, people are already feeling the impact of climate change on their daily lives, but those living in the most affected areas are being disproportionately hit, despite being the ones contributing to it the least. We want this campaign to spread awareness and inspire people to get involved, talk to and put pressure on their leaders.”
The climate crisis has slipped down the global agenda as nations battle to curb the spread of COVID-19 and minimize its immediate and long-term impacts on health and economies. Since the start of the pandemic, extreme-weather events have affected the lives of more than 139 million people and killed over 17,000. The global investment in COVID-19 recovery proves that governments can act decisively and drastically in the face of imminent global threats. The same energy and action on climate change is overdue.
Francesco Rocca, IFRC President, said:
“Climate change is already affecting our lives and it is only going to get worse. No region in the world has been spared by the devastating impacts of extreme weather events. Ahead of COP26, we call on world leaders to make concrete commitments not only to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and meet the targets set out in the Paris agreement by 2050, but also to address the existent and imminent humanitarian impacts of climate change, investing in community adaptation, anticipation systems and local action. Every day, we are witnessing the impact of human-made climate change. The climate crisis is here, and we need to act now.”
By 2050, 200 million people every year could need humanitarian assistance as a result of a combination of climate-related disasters and the socio-economic impact of climate change.
Eric Njuguna from Fridays for Future said:
“It all narrows down to a single child and that child is someone’s sibling, best friend or cousin. Fridays for future joined the #ClimateChangedMe campaign to humanize the numbers.”
The #ClimateChangedMe campaign also showcases stories of resilience and sheds light on the role of Red Cross and Red Crescent volunteers across the world in preparing communities to prevent and adapt to climate risks.
Join IFRC for a discussion with Fridays for Future on Twitter Spaces at 11:00 am CEST Monday 4 October.
Share the campaign on social media using the hashtag: #ClimateChangedMe
For more information or to arrange an interview, contact:
Marie Claudet, +33 786 89 50 89 , [email protected]
Tommaso Della Longa, +41 79 708 43 67, [email protected]
Disasters, climate and crises
The IFRC and our 192 National Societiesrespond to, and workto prevent or lessen the impacts of, all types of crises and disasters. We do so for all people, with a focus on supporting the most vulnerable.Our priorities are to save lives, reduce suffering and uphold human dignity.