COVID-19

Displaying 1 - 25 of 146
04/05/2022 | Article

Lights, camera, action! How cinema is saving lives in Cameroon

Combining both learning and entertainment, mobile cinema has, over the years, become a prominent way of engaging remote communities around the world on a wide range of important topics—everything from how to stay healthy, to how to prepare for disasters. Each mobile cinema kit contains a projection screen and tripod, laptop, microphones and speakers and a generator so they can still run even in the face of power cuts. Since receiving the kits, the Cameroon Red Cross has been using mobile cinema to share life-saving messages about COVID-19, cholera, and any others relevant topics, which will help people to prepare and stay safe. All in an exciting and effective way, and within a community’s own environment. "Mobile cinema allows us to provide the right information that communities need in the fight against epidemics and disasters of all forms. This fun and useful tool is undoubtedly allowing us to improve our humanitarian response across the country,” Cécile Akamé President of the Cameroon Red Cross Mobile cinema screenings aren’t just about sitting back and watching. They’re also a great way to engage communities through question-and-answer sessions and to gather people’s valuable feedback. Each screening is facilitated by Cameroonian Red Cross volunteers—many of whom were recently trained in communication, community engagement and feedback collection. Listening to people’s questions, concerns, thoughts and fears helps volunteers to understand communities’ needs better, and tailor their work accordingly. Marlyse, a 15-year-old student in the southern city of Kribi who attended a recent screening, said: “This is the first time I have taken part in this type of activity and I have learned a lot. We watched a video on COVID-19 and this reinforced our knowledge on preventive measures. Also the talk with the people from the Red Cross helped us to know more about the vaccine.” Marlyse Mobile Cinema attendee in Kribi You can watch the video Marlyse refers to below (in French): At the IFRC, we know that epidemics begin and end in communities. And that with the right information and support, everyone can play an important role in detecting diseases, responding effectively, and preparing for future health risks. Take Mr Biyong, for example, a community leader in Kribi who is excited about the Cameroonian Red Cross project and the potential of mobile cinema: "We are currently experiencing a cholera epidemic in our community and in the whole region. I think this tool is very timely! Through the broadcasting of the video on cholera, the modes of transmission and how to prevent this disease, my community members were able to see with their own eyes what we try to explain to them every day. This is really a tool that will help stop the spread of the disease.” Mr Biyong Kribi Community Leader Together, the IFRC and Cameroonian Red Cross hope to expand mobile cinema screenings across the country in the coming months, listening to and learning from the people we support as we go. “In addition to things like food, water and shelter, we know that information is, in itself, aid. The IFRC is working hard to help National Societies like the Cameroonian Red Cross take ownership of the opportunities and benefits of this exciting mobile cinema approach to making communities more resilient,” ​​​​​​ Thierry Balloy IFRC Head of Country Cluster Delegation for Central Africa -- This work in Cameroon is part of the IFRC’s multi-country Community Epidemic and Pandemic Preparedness Programme (CP3), funded by USAID. Click here to learn more about the project and our work in this area. And if you enjoyed this story, you may also be interested in our new case studies showing how Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies have helped prepare communities for, and protect them from, COVID-19.

Read more
05/05/2022 | Article

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.

Read more
17/03/2022 | Press release

IFRC urges countries in the Caribbean to build vaccine confidence in communities

Jamaica, 17 March 2022 - The low rate of vaccination against COVID-19 in the Caribbean must be addressed through building confidence among the population as well as responding to the inequity of vaccine access, says the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC). Building this confidence is a key factor in promoting universal vaccination and therefore fostering socio-economic recovery in the Caribbean, where only 40 per cent of the population counts with a complete scheme of vaccination, in comparison with 68 per cent in South America and 60 per cent in Central America. In the Americas region more than 1.7 billion COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered. Diana Medina, IFRC Engagement and Accountability regional manager said: ‘’Countries in the Caribbean are not just facing difficulties in their capacity to ensure that the vaccine makes it from the airport tarmac into the arms of the most vulnerable. People are avoiding getting vaccinated due to lack of confidence in the vaccine, difficulties accessing information and mistrust in certain sources. To ensure that everyone gets vaccinated it is key to strengthen community-centred dialogue, identify trust issues and address people’s doubts, concerns, and fears.’’ A combination of different factors affects the progress of the vaccination efforts: the geographic spread of the islands and poor condition of roads make it difficult to access hard-to-reach communities, leaving them unprotected and uninformed. The burden on health institutions is significant, with the undertaking of large-scale risk and awareness campaigns a challenge. In some communities there is also a lack of trust in information providers and vaccine efficiency. A new report by the IFRC on perceptions around COVID-19, carried out in nine countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, reveals that some vulnerable populations such as migrants, indigenous communities, and host communities face constraints in accessing vaccination services, lack trust in their local authorities or decision makers, and are reluctant to get inoculated due to fear of side effects and concerns over safety. Abdul Nasir Khan, IFRC Operations Coordinator for the Dutch and English-speaking Caribbean, added: ‘’Thanks to the Red Cross’ historical relationship with communities in the field, we have identified that people rely mostly on information from health care providers, humanitarian workers, and local leaders, however, they remain sceptical of information from official sources. It requires an imperative joint effort from all parties to deliver trusted and adapted information to communities through accessible and comprehensive risk communication, in parallel with active vaccination activities.’’ Since the onset of COVID-19 vaccination campaigns, the Red Cross has supported almost 4,000 people in getting vaccinated against COVID-19 and provided communications addressing vaccine hesitancy to more than 650,000 people in the Caribbean. The personnel are assisting health authorities vaccinating people and implementing sensitization activities of risk communications adapted to communities' perceptions and contexts, through local awareness on house-to-house visits, walkabouts, public transportation and by setting information booths in public spaces. The Red Cross has also communicated key information to large cross-sections of the population through electronic billboards, television, radio, and digital videos. In 2022, local Red Cross teams will continue to work as auxiliaries to the authorities, promoting equitable access to vaccines and socio-economic recovery to the most vulnerable, implementing activities to build vaccine confidence and placing communities at the centre of its actions through locally led humanitarian support. Notes and additional Information: The Perception Survey Report on COVID-19 in the Americas will be presented at a digital event on Wednesday 23th March 2022, 10 a.m. EST/ 4 p.m. CET. To join the conversation, please register byclicking here. To Download the complete report, click here For more information or to schedule interviews with specialists on the COVID-19 situation in the Caribbean and the Americas region, please contact: Office for the Caribbean Region: Trevesa DaSilva, +1 876 818 8575, [email protected] Americas regional Office in Panama:David Quijano, +57 310 559 2559, [email protected] / Susana Arroyo, susana.arr[email protected]

Read more
13/09/2021 | Speech

Statement on the High-level Ministerial Meeting on the Humanitarian Situation in Afghanistan

Excellencies, Distinguished Representatives, Ladies and Gentlemen, It is an honour to address you on behalf of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and our member National Society, the Afghan Red Crescent. I give this in complementarity to ICRC’s President, Peter Maurer’s earlier statement. As current events in Afghanistan unfold, the Afghan Red Crescent continues to carry out critical humanitarian work through its network of 34 provincial branches, 2,000 staff and more than 30,000 trained volunteers. The Afghan Red Crescent and the IFRC’s staff have been there through it all and are always there to fulfil our humanitarian mandate. We had no option to leave. We continue to deliver. The IFRC has been in Afghanistan for more than 30 years uninterrupted. We have worked with the Afghan Red Crescent throughout this time in their institutional development, in bringing much needed humanitarian supplies, in bringing the community voices to the global stage and in providing leadership in coordination. We will remain by their side, for as long as we are needed. Last week we launched arevised Emergency Appealfor 36 million Swiss Francs to ramp up support to the work of the Afghan Red Crescent in meeting the needs of those affected by one of the country’s worst ever droughts, acute food shortages, a fractured health system, displacement as well as the devastating impact of COVID-19. We have also provided support to the neighbouring countries’ National Red Crescent Societies, and we will need an additional 15 million Swiss francs to continue to do so. Ladies and Gentlemen, I have three messages for you to consider, and act upon: We must work together to ensure that humanitarian corridors are kept open.This may include making exceptions to sanctions, which allow for medical and urgent humanitarian supply chains. Now is the time to ensure that there are no bureaucratic obstacles to committing humanitarian aid. In return, we will ensure that support is provided to the most vulnerable, to enable locally managed and delivered aid, in line with our fundamental principles. Now is the time to support local action, empower strong local organizations and make good on your localization commitments in the Grand Bargain.The Afghan Red Crescent has unique access to people in need - recognized for its neutrality, impartiality and independence. Its’ Afghan staff and volunteers work every day in every province of Afghanistan, with direct access to support communities with ongoing relief and health services. Now is not the time to ignore Afghanistan; it is vital that we look to the future and support the people of Afghanistan as they work hard to heal and recover. I thank you.

Read more
20/05/2022 | Speech

Official Statement of the IFRC to the Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction 2022

I am honoured to submit this Official Statement on behalf of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC). The GP2022 theme,“From Risk to Resilience: Towards Sustainable Development for All in a COVID-19 Transformed World”could not be more relevant to us as we face growing needs and an uncertain future. COVID-19 has already taken more than 6.2 million lives and has increased vulnerabilities worldwide, particularly among women, children, elders, and persons with disabilities. At the same time, more people are under threat from the climate crisis, conflict, disaster, and disease. The humanitarian needs of 2022 will be, at least, double what they were in 2019. Today we are at a critical juncture. Not only must we recover fully from this pandemic, but we must also review our readiness and change our modus operandi to proactively deal with future risks. We must move from responding to crises, to building individual and community capacities to anticipate, prepare for, reduce the impact, cope with and recover from crises. This must be done without compromising their long-term prospects, in other words, strengthening their resilience to future risks. To achieve this, IFRC calls for collective action in the following areas: First, we must inspire community action that revolutionises positive change. Communities have agency, self-reliance and their own hopes and plans for the future. Our efforts will only benefit them if we centre their priorities, experiences and expertise, and support their actions. We have to support communities to come together to tackle the challenges that they are currently facing, and prepare for those that lie ahead. Funding and partnerships need to support individuals and communities to understand their risks, take action to address them, and participate in official decision-making processes. Local actors such as National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies are critical to informing and channeling investments to the right places, to those most in need, where scarce resources can have the greatest impact. They need to be in the driver’s seat of change, and this includes women and youth. Second, trust the science. We must listen to the science and use it to plan for and protect against future risks. Extreme climate and weather events are becoming more frequent and more intense, affecting new places with many hazards striking at the same time. We can’t use what happened in the past to predict the future. We have to trust and act upon the science. This must be our standard way of working. Anticipatory action that puts communities at the centre must be the new normal if we want to reduce humanitarian needs, avert loss and damage caused by climate change. Third, leverage the power of partnerships. We can only become more resilient if we collaborate together but this means working more broadly than the humanitarian, development and climate sectors. We must also look to the private and public sectors, local governments, grassroots communities and further – we are trying to overcome the same challenges but with different means. How can the private sector engage in ways that drive social impact? How can governments lead change with enabling frameworks? How do humanitarian agencies embrace agility in their business models? Together with our partners, we have taken various initiatives, including the Anticipatory Action Task Force, Forecast-based Action by the Disaster Response Emergency Fund (DREF), the Anticipation Hub, the Country Support Platform of the Global Taskforce for Cholera Control, and the Risk-informed Early Action Partnership (REAP), which we call on our partners to join. Fourth, we must change the way we do business. People-centred partnerships towards achieving the SDGs will require new approaches to programming and donor funding. These must allow the private sector to meaningfully engage and demonstrate the value of structures that can be more sustainable, replicable, and scalable to address growing humanitarian and development needs. Developing countries will need more than USD 2.5 trillion a year to fill the SDG financing gap, but there is only some USD 150 billion of total overseas development assistance available. However, private capital sources alone amount to more than USD 200 trillion. We need to consider smart financing that helps donated resources reach further, by creating multiplier opportunities. At all times, communities must be at the heart of decisions made in investment and programming for inclusive disaster risk reduction, epidemic and pandemic preparedness, and climate change adaptation. The communities most vulnerable to disasters, as well as fragile and conflict affected settings and those displaced or at risk of displacement, must be prioritized. Governments can assist by ensuring that national disaster and climate laws, policies, financial instruments, and plans all include a focus on reducing risks for the most vulnerable people. In responding to theCOVID-19 pandemic, IFRC and National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies have made good use of the preparedness capacity built over the years. From the outset, we have met the growing health needs and demands of vulnerable communities, building on local solutions and leveraging National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies’ role asindependent auxiliariesto their governments in the humanitarian arena. In the past two years, the IFRC network supported nearly 1.2 billion people through our COVID-19 programmes. This support has included risk communication, community engagement activities for health and hygiene promotion, water and sanitation, and food and cash assistance. And beyond our emergency response, our National Societies reached 139 million people through pandemic-proof disaster risk reduction programming, using the IFRC’s guide for “Climate-smart disaster risk management programming during the COVID-19 pandemic”. Rest assured we will continue our efforts to create a culture of prevention and resilience by mobilizing our global network of 192 National Societies, 160,000 local branches and 14.9 million community-based volunteers. I take this opportunity to pay tribute to the Indonesian Government and the Indonesian Red Cross for their great efforts to protect people and their livelihoods from disasters and crises. Thank you, and I wish you a successful Global Platform.

Read more
28/06/2022 | Press release

COVID-19: Red Cross Red Crescent turns to animation to boost global vaccine effort

The animation is in the form of a nature documentary that examines how humanity is coping with the global pandemic and why vaccines are key to controlling COVID-19. “Until the majority of humans are vaccinated, the virus will continue to spread and mutate, creating new variants that could evade the vaccine altogether,” a resonating voice reminiscent of David Attenborough explains in the 90-second animation. “The humans only hope is to share the vaccine amongst themselves.” New analysis by the IFRC reveals that nearly one billion people in Asia and the Pacific are yet to receive a single dose of COVID -19 vaccine. Globally, less than 20 percent of the population have received a single dose in low-income countries, according to Oxford University’s ‘Our World in Data’. John Fleming, IFRC’s Asia Pacific Head of Health, said: “The COVID vaccine has saved millions of lives but too many people are still living in danger.If we want to end this pandemic once and for all, we need to urgently address hesitancy in every country, strengthen local delivery to get doses into arms and transfer vaccine and anti-viral drugs technology to manufacturers in low-income nations." “There has been remarkable cooperation between countries around the world, but this pandemic is not over, and much greater action is needed by leaders in richer countries and pharmaceutical companies to enable equal access to vaccines for people everywhere.” The animation video underlines the need to distribute vaccines among poorer nations with utmost urgency. The video can be downloaded here. The IFRC is asking people to just click on ‘share this video’ until it reaches policy makers, pharmaceutical companies, and government authorities. Its message is simple – people all around the world can take action to vaccinate everyone in all corners of the globe by calling upon their governments to help. Help is needed to ensure supply of vaccines to low-income nations as well as to get those vaccines from the tarmac into the arms of people. The quicker we do this, the safer everyone will be. For more information or to arrange an interview, contact: In Bangkok: Preeti Abraham, +66 61 412 3910, [email protected] In Kuala Lumpur: Rachel Punitha, +60 19 791 3830, [email protected]

Read more
28/06/2022 | Press release

COVID-19: Nearly 1 billion still without any vaccination in Asia Pacific

Globally, less than 20 percent of the population have received a single dose in low-income countries, according to Oxford University’s Our World in Data. The IFRC is calling for all governments and pharmaceutical companies to act now to achieve greater vaccine equity. John Fleming, IFRC’s Asia Pacific Head of Health, said: “The COVID vaccine has been one of the most remarkable feats of modern science and it is saving millions of lives but too many people are still living in danger. “It is critical for humanity and for economies that people have access to COVID-19 vaccines in all countries. Vaccine equity is the key to winning the race against new variants.” “We urge richer nations to urgently step up and enable equitable access to lifesaving COVID vaccines for everyone in lower income countries.” “Unless we prioritise protection of the most vulnerable in every country, the administration of multiple booster doses in richer countries is like applying a bandaid to a festering wound.” Globally, slightly over 5 million COVID-19 doses are now administered every day. While some high-income countries including Canada and Australia have purchased around 10 COVID vaccine doses per person, others such as Bangladesh, Indonesia, and Myanmar have purchased less than two vaccinations per person, according to Duke University’s Launch and Scale Speedometer. More than 6 million deaths are recorded globally, however the World Health Organization estimates that 14.9 million lives have been lost due to the pandemic. COVID infections are rising in almost 70 countries in all regions according to the WHO. “If we want to end this pandemic once and for all, we need to urgently address hesitancy in every country, strengthen local delivery to get doses into arms and transfer vaccine and anti-viral drugs technology to manufacturers in low-income nations,” said Mr Fleming. “There has been remarkable cooperation between countries around the world but this pandemic is not over and much greater action is needed by leaders in richer countries and pharmaceutical companies to enable equal access to vaccines for people everywhere.” Coinciding with the IFRC calls for greater action on vaccine equity, a new animation video has been released highlighting the urgent need to get vaccines to everyone in all corners of every country. The video can be viewed and downloaded here. Globally, Red Cross and Red Crescent National Societies have supported more than 400 million people to access COVID-19 vaccines. The network continues to deliver vaccines, tests and treatments to the most vulnerable and is helping to rebuild stronger health systems. For more information or to arrange an interview, contact: In Bangkok: Preeti Abraham, +66 61 412 3910, [email protected] In Kuala Lumpur: Rachel Punitha, +60 19 791 3830, [email protected]

Read more
09/06/2022 | Press release

Preventing a second crisis: Health needs extend beyond Ukraine’s borders warns IFRC

Budapest, 9 June 2022 – A crisis is emerging in the shadow of conflict across Ukraine: one that extends beyond the country’s borders. Ukraine’s already stressed healthcare system is buckling under the weight of expectation and medical needs as people continue fleeing conflict areas seeking safety. The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is working around the clock to address needs far greater than what’s visible to the eye. “We know it’s possible to prevent a secondary crisis, but no one organization or entity can do it alone,” said Xavier Castellanos Mosquera, IFRC Under Secretary General. More than 290 health care facilities and counting across Ukraine have been damaged or destroyed during the conflict according to the World Health Organization (WHO). More than 1.4 million people are without running water across eastern Ukraine, while UNOCHA reports an additional 4.6 million people in the country at risk for losing access to running water -- a growing risk of water-borne diseases such as acute watery diarrhea. Lack of electricity makes it impossible for water treatment and sanitation efforts to be effective. Health systems in immediate neighbouring countries, including Romania, Belarus, Hungary and Moldova, were already stretched prior to the conflict due to COVID-19. While each country is providing health support to an increased number of people, this can divert valuable health resources away from the people who are still recovering from impacts of COVID-19. The sheer volume of current and future health needs as the conflict continues requires additional resources. “The lack of medical supplies, health care staff and critical infrastructure grow day by day,” said Nick Prince, IFRC Emergency Health delegate. “The millions who have migrated to the western area of Ukraine and eastern European countries are at an elevated risk of infectious diseases given the overcrowded living conditions, limited access to shelter, nutritional stress and exposure to the elements.” On top of these factors, people on the move are forced to delay treatment for existing chronic diseases such as hypertension, diabetes and cancer and, in the absence of vaccinations to meet safe thresholds – including for COVID-19, there is the very strong likelihood of the re-emergence of vaccine preventable diseases. Ukraine also has some of the highest burden of chronic infectious diseases in Europe, particularly HIV and Tuberculosis – a massive risk not only for displaced people themselves, but also for Ukraine’s health care system once they return. “The Red Cross calls on governments and the international community to provide funds for inclusive access to health services and vaccines, testing and treatment, clean water and mental health and psychological support in the long-term,” said Castellanos Mosquera. In Uzhhorod, Ukraine -- where roughly 100,000 people from conflict-torn areas have fled, doubling the city’s population -- a Red Cross health center will open this month to treat both urgent and primary care needs free of charge to all patients. It’s the first of its kind in the area. In collaboration with local authorities, the clinic aims to serve people in need for years to come. The Ukrainian Red Cross has nearly a dozen mobile health teams in the country with more on the way and is providing mental health and psychosocial support to people who have been forced to flee. In addition, food, baby supplies and hygiene items are available to anyone in need. In Moldova, Red Cross teams are preparing to install more handwashing stations and continue to distribute hygiene kits. Access to clean water– the number one prevention mechanism for disease prevention – remains a priority. Red Cross volunteers across eastern Europe are also integrating with teams distributing emergency cash to people who have fled Ukraine to ensure they have access to critical health resources and information. In Hungary, the Hungarian Red Cross, supported by the Spanish Red Cross has set up health posts at the border crossings to provide first aid, primary health care, mental health support and emergency relief to people arriving by train from Chop, Ukraine. For more information or to arrange an interview, contact: In Budapest: Katie Wilkes, +1 312 952 2270, [email protected] Merlijn Stoffels, +31 65 491 8481, [email protected]

Read more
20/05/2022 | Press release

IFRC report: Goals for poverty reduction, decent work and closing inequality gap, stalled by COVID-19 in Latin America and the Caribbean

Panama City, May 20, 2022 - The devastating socioeconomic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic have stalled some of the key Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in Latin America and the Caribbean. It is unlikely that the region will end poverty, ensure gender equality, promote decent and equitable work, and reduce inequality within and between countries by the target date of 2030. This is one of the main findings of "Readjusting the path towards equity," a recent study by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC). The report confirms that COVID-19 increased unemployment, reduced the income of the poorest families, forced more than one million children to leave school, reduced labour protection and worsened inequality and gender violence. Head of IFRC's Disaster, Climate and Crisis unit in the Americas, Roger Alonso, said: "This study helps us understand the long-term impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the most vulnerable people’s income, access to food and well-being. The findings underline the fact that a full social and economic recovery will take years. To avoid irreversible levels of vulnerability, it is crucial to implement an inclusive and fair recovery, which also anticipates the effects of the current food and fuel price increases resulting from the conflict in Ukraine." According to the report, the loss of income of the poorest populations increased food insecurity resulting in 60 million people suffering from hunger in the first year of the pandemic. That same year, 23 million women were pushed into poverty and since then, cases of domestic and sexual violence and human trafficking have increased. In addition, 10% of jobs in the region were lost during the pandemic, and 30% of these have not yet been recovered. Meanwhile, 51% of the migrant population surveyed by IFRC said they lost their jobs and 53% of those who kept them, saw their income reduced or were not paid. This IFRC analysis is based on literature review, interviews with experts and representatives of international organizations, as well as 1,825 surveys conducted in Argentina, Guatemala, Honduras, Panama and Venezuela. Co-author of the report and IFRC Livelihoods Recovery Officer in the Americas, Daniela Funez, said: ''Listening to the communities we serve is a priority for the Red Cross network. That's what allows us to know their needs in depth and, in this case, the data they provided us confirms the projections made by international agencies about the effects of COVID-19 on the SDGs'." To address the socioeconomic impacts of the pandemic, the IFRC suggests prioritizing attention to the most vulnerable groups, incorporating a gender approach in humanitarian action and contributing to reducing the effects of climate change. It also calls for increased investment in vaccination, protection and livelihood protection, a key issue to close the 60% funding gap needed to continue responding to the medium and long-term effects of COVID-19. For more information: In Bogota:David Quijano +57 310 5592559,[email protected] In Panama:Susana Arroyo Barrantes,[email protected]

Read more
13/05/2022 | Article

World's largest youth organizations agree new strategic collaboration with the WHO to build a healthier, more equal and youth-led future

Geneva, 13 May 2022 - Today, CEOs and youth leaders from the Big 6 Youth Organizations met with leaders from the World Health Organization (WHO) to discuss the role of young people in leading COVID-19 response and recovery efforts and agree on a ground-breaking strategic partnership and collaboration of engaging young people in future health-related crises. The partnership agreements signed by five of the Big six are designed to increase multilateral collaboration and put young people at the heart of decision making, whilst the IFRC will use its existing partnership to achieve this goal. This represents an important milestone in the successful collaboration between the Big 6, the WHO, and the Global Youth Mobilization (GYM), a movement of young people taking action to address the negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, and to build back better. Young people today face an unparalleled time of challenge. In addition to the direct health impacts exacerbated by the pandemic, young people continue to be disproportionately affected by disruptions to education, loss or lack of employment opportunities, domestic and gender-based violence, and mental health challenges. The new strategic agreements build on the Global Youth Mobilization, a successful initiative launched at the end of 2020 and supported by WHO and the UN Foundation through the COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund. The Global Youth Mobilization enables the rapid disbursement of micro grants to tens of thousands of young people worldwide to help develop solutions to ensure their communities emerge from the pandemic stronger than before. Through the “Local Solutions”, young people are driving change and implementing solutions in response to COVID-19 by taking action through community-based interventions and voluntary services. The initiative is powering change at a national level too through the engagement and activation of Big 6national organizations across the world. The collaboration between WHO and the Big Six Youth Organizations includes a focus on the areas of mental and physical health, health promotion, sexual and reproductive health and rights, and climate and health. Commenting on the strategic collaboration, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General, said: “WHO is proud to support the global movement to engage and empower young people as a driving force in the recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. Working with the Big 6 and the United Nations Foundation has provided a unique opportunity to learn from millions of young people and be guided by their enthusiasm and ideas to help communities build back better. What the Big 6 have achieved in a year through launching and implementing the Global Youth Mobilization is phenomenal and unparalleled in the youth development sector. We look forward to continuing our support through these new partnership agreements and encourage others to partner with the Big 6 and invest in the health and well-being of future generations.” Anna Segall, CEO of the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts and Chair of the Global Youth Mobilization, said: “We believe in young people’s agency and know that with the right support and opportunity they can imagine and lead the solutions to the global challenges we face today. In coming together through the Global Youth Mobilization, the Big Six Youth Organisations have shown that by listening to young people and providing them with the space and resources to act, our organisations and young people can make a huge collective impact. We look forward to continuing this vital work through our new strategic collaboration with the World Health Organization. By supporting young people to improve their mental and physical health, sexual and reproductive health and rights and tackle the impact of climate change we can work together to create a better, fairer future for all.” Meti Gemechu, Youth Board Representative for the Global Youth Mobilization and World Young Women’s Christian Association, said: "Through the Global Youth Mobilisation, we have proved that we are not the problem but in fact the solution to not just building back from the pandemic but building back better. With innovation, relentless energy and dedication to bettering our communities young people have led the response and recovery efforts. The Global Youth Mobilization is a critical actor in bringing together everyone for a future we want to be a part of." During the three-day visit the Big 6 shared highlights and recommendations with multinational agencies, institutions, governments, policymakers and corporations to prioritise the needs of young people from the Global Youth Mobilization "Powering Change: Young People Leading the COVID-19 Response and Recovery” impact report. To date the Global Youth Mobilization has already resulted in 200,000 young people actively engaged in addressing the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic in their local communities. They have been at the forefront of the pandemic recovery, delivering over 260 projects to date in 77 countries and supporting 800,000 community beneficiaries. For more information contact: Sam Williams, Global Youth Mobilization, Project [email protected] Paleni Amulungu, Global Youth Mobilization, Digital Communications, Partnerships and Advocacy [email protected] Amjad Saleem, IFRC Inclusion, Protection and Engagement Manager [email protected] Click here to learn more about the IFRC's work in engaging young people around the world.

Read more
12/05/2022 | Press release

Global COVID-19 Summit: “World leaders must step up and ensure that everyone, everywhere has access to vaccines, tests and treatments.”

Geneva, 12 May 2022 - During the second Global COVID-19 Summit co-hosted by the White House, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies’ (IFRC) Secretary General Jagan Chapagain underlined the network’s commitment to delivering COVID-19 vaccines, tests and treatments to the most vulnerable and building back stronger health systems. While many countries have successfully rolled out COVID-19 vaccination campaigns, vaccine coverage remains below 10 per cent in many low-income countries including, Papua New Guinea, Democratic Republic of Congo, Haiti or Madagascar. Low-income countries can also not afford tests and other lifesaving tools such as antiviral drugs or oxygen supplies, leaving millions at risk of contracting the virus and suffering its deadly consequences. Mr. Chapagain said: “World leaders must step up and ensure that everyone, everywhere has access to vaccines, tests and treatments. This means targeting those who are most vulnerable, have the greatest needs and are the hardest to reach. This pandemic is still spreading and killing people. It is too soon to drop our guard and give up our global efforts against COVID-19.” Since the start of the pandemic, National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies have supported more than 400 million people to access COVID-19 vaccination and provided mental health support to over 13 million people in 152 countries. Because they are part of the very communities they serve, their role is also critical to building trust, informing communities about public health measures and boosting vaccine uptake. For example, across Asia and the Pacific, millions of volunteers have helped tens of millions of people get vaccinated against COVID-19. Afghanistan has one of the world’s most fragile health systems and has vaccinated only 12% of its population with two doses. The Afghan Red Crescent has been operating a 50-bed hospital dedicated to COVID-19 patients and provided food or cash to more than 165,500 people. More than 1 million people were screened through their Mobile Health Teams and clinics in 2021. In Namibia where only 16% of the population has been fully vaccinated, the Namibia Red Cross has led a “get vaccinated – kick COVID-19 out of Namibia” road show campaign. Red Cross volunteers walk through the streets in communities around the country, carrying signs, singing songs, and leading chants about vaccination. At COVID-19 vaccination sites, Red Cross volunteers also support registration for vaccination and data entry and provide basic first aid. During the Summit, Mr. Chapagain expressed IFRC’s support to a pandemic financing mechanism that would allow community actors to access funding to strengthen community health systems and to increase their resilience to future health threats. Mr. Chapagain said: “We need to prepare for the next pandemic now. The world wasn’t ready for COVID-19, but we can be for the next pandemic. We must harness the lessons, successes and failures from the response to COVID-19 and build towards a future where communities are equipped to respond to the next health crisis.” To request an interview or for more information, please contact: In Washington: Marie Claudet +1 202 999 8689, [email protected] Click here to discover more examples of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies' vaccination activities during COVID-19.

Read more
27/04/2022 | Press release

Vaccinations vital as COVID cripples Pacific countries

Kuala Lumpur/Suva 28 April 2022 – The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies are increasingly concerned for more than 1 million people in Pacific nations as they struggle with their first major wave of COVID-19 fuelled by the Omicron variants. Ramping up vaccinations is vital as the rapid surge in COVID infections is causing increasing death and illness in countries with low immunisation rates. COVID-free for almost two years, Vanuatu, the Solomon Islands, Tonga, Kiribati, and Samoa have all experienced outbreaks in their capitals, and the virus is spreading to vulnerable outer island communities which lack basic treatment and vaccination facilities. The virus is putting huge strains on fragile healthcare systems in population centres such as Honiara, Port Vila and Nuku’alofa. A rising number of healthcare workers are being struck down with COVID-19, further limiting health services and escalating the crisis. Sainiana Rokovucago, Acting Pacific Head of Delegation, International Federation of Red Cross Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) said: “It is critical that we reach the last mile with vaccinations in the most remote Pacific island villages. Every effort must be made by authorities to reach these communities, despite the logistical challenges of getting vaccines to these remote tropical islands.” “Red Cross volunteers are working with communities to understand the importance of getting vaccinated and maintaining hygiene to stem the spread of this dangerous virus.” Solomons Islands has reported more than 12,000 infections and more than 100 deaths since January, 2022. Vanuatu has reported over 6,000 cases and 12 deaths in the past two months. After the volcanic eruption and tsunami in January, Tonga is battling a triple disaster with over 9,000 cases and 11 deaths due to COVID. In the Solomon Islands, only 20 per cent of the population have received two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine, according to Our World in Data. In Vanuatu, only 38 per cent have received two doses, considered the minimum initial protocol to help protect people. “There is strong evidence that vaccinations save lives. People in the Cook Islands are experiencing their first wave of the virus, yet due to the high vaccination rate of 100 per cent, they have been able to avoid severe illness and many deaths.” “It is critical that we do even more to counter misinformation, knowledge gaps and rumours about COVID-19 and vaccinations, by building trust and vaccine by understanding any concerns, answering questions, and fostering dialogue through trusted channels.” “COVID is far from over in the Pacific so we need to vaccinate everyone now”. For more information, contact: In Suva: Soneel Ram, +679 9983 688, [email protected] Asia Pacific Office: Preeti Abraham, +66 61 412 3910, [email protected] Asia Pacific Office: Antony Balmain, +60 12 230 8451, [email protected]

Read more
27/04/2022 | Article

World Immunization Week: going the last mile to keep communities safe from COVID-19

Immunization is the foundation of healthy communities. And right now, in the continued fight against COVID-19, vaccines are one of many important tools we have to keep communities around the world safe and healthy. The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement is supporting COVID-19 vaccination efforts in 172 countries. And, together, our National Societies have supported more than 325 million people to access COVID-19 vaccination globally. Since the start of the pandemic, we’ve made special efforts to reach vulnerable, marginalized and hard-to-reach communities worldwide. To go what we call the ‘last mile’—because all people, no matter who or where they are, deserve access to health services, vaccines, testing and lifesaving treatment. And because we know that no one is safe until everyone is safe. So, what does this work actually look like? Scroll down to discover photos and examples from five different countries: Papua New Guinea, Libya, Zambia, Kyrgyzstan and Canada. And if you like what you read, sign up to the IFRC’s immunization newsletter for a monthly round-up of immunization activities in response to COVID-19 and other diseases. Papua New Guinea Papua New Guineahas one of the lowest vaccination coverage rates in the world. The Papua New Guinea Red Cross is working closely with provincial health authorities in the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines, and a crucial part of this work involves building public confidence in vaccination. Volunteers are providing accurate, reliable and trusted public health information about COVID-19 vaccination. In many cases, they work in partnership with local community groups—such as the Country Women Association in Madang province—to reach people in spaces they already feel comfortable in. By listening and responding to people’s concerns about the vaccines, they are dispelling people’s fears and encouraging more and more people to come forward for their jab. Libya The Libyan Red Crescent Society is partnering with the Libyan National Centre for Disease Control to support the rollout of COVID-19 vaccination—with a focus on community engagement and logistical support. More than 600 volunteers have been going out and about in their communities to engage with local people and answer their questions about vaccines. Volunteers have been helping with vaccine registration and data entry, so people can sign up for their jabs, and several Libyan Red Crescent health clinics in the south of the country are currently being used as vaccination centres. Zambia Zambia Red Cross Society volunteers are running a mobile COVID-19 vaccination campaign to take vaccines out to remote and hard-to-reach communities across the country. They’re working with trusted local community leaders, helping them to be advocates for COVID-19 vaccines so that their communities feel confident coming forward. Volunteers are also working hard to continue routine immunization activities across the country so that all Zambian children are fully immunized before the age of 5. Kyrgyzstan Hundreds of Kyrgyzstan Red Crescent Society volunteers across the country have dedicated their time to supporting the Ministry of Health and Social Development’s rollout of COVID-19 vaccines. They set up a special COVID-19 vaccination hotline to answer the public’s questions and address rumours and misinformation about vaccines. And they’ve been deployed to vaccination centres to lead vaccine registration and data entry so people can easily schedule their appointments. Canada In Canada, the Canadian Red Crosshas been supporting provincial, territorial and Indigenous health authorities in vaccination efforts among remote and Indigenous communities. For instance, in Northern Alberta, CRC’s Indigenous staff have been embedded into mobile vaccination teams to help understand and address the roots of vaccine hesitancy. They’ve been supported virtually by an Indigenous People’s Help Desk, set up to respond to the unique needs of Indigenous leadership during the pandemic. -- For more information, visit our immunization page or sign up to the IFRC's monthly immunization newsletter.

Read more
23/03/2022 | Press release

Americas: Restoring trust of vulnerable communities key to fair and inclusive recovery after two years of pandemic, says IFRC

Panama, March 23, 2022 – Migrants, host communities and indigenous populations’ trust in local authorities and decision-makers on COVID-19 related issues has dropped to a third, compared to the beginning of the pandemic. This is one of the key findings of "COVID-19 in the Americas: listening to the most vulnerable", a study carried out by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) in nine countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, which analysed the perceptions of COVID-19 in the most vulnerable communities. The report finds that humanitarians are the second most trusted group after scientists. It also shows that high or moderate trust in government leaders is associated with greater trust in vaccines’ safety and efficacy. Diana Medina, Manager of Community Engagement and Accountability for the IFRC in the Americas, said: ''Listening to communities, using data to design interventions adjusted to the changing contexts of the pandemic and locally led response approaches are key to strengthening confidence around vaccines and to protect people against COVID-19. If people don’t trust vaccines or can’t have access to it, vaccination rates will remain low, and this pandemic will not end. We trust that the report’s findings and recommendations will serve as a basis for redefining the strategies on the ground and the advocacy processes necessary to ensure that immunization campaigns reach the last mile'' The study also finds that despite their willingness to get vaccinated, migrants and indigenous communities face great difficulties in accessing the vaccine, such as long distances, long waiting lines or registration issues. In fact, indigenous populations expressed having received less information than the rest of the population consulted and a higher level of reluctance to adopt all the protection measures for COVID-19. Maria Franca Tallarico, IFRC Regional Manager for Health and Care for the Americas, said: ''Even though there are significant advances in controlling the spread of COVID-19, the pandemic is not over yet. Many people remain unvaccinated or with incomplete vaccination schemes. Understanding what these groups think about the virus and vaccination is essential to maintain dialogue, approach communities in a contextualized way to facilitate the implementation of healthy behaviours and habits, favour a fair and inclusive recovery and increase vaccination rates, thus reducing the risk of proliferation of new variants.'' Most interviewees said they found COVID-19 health messages useful and effective. However, it is key to consider the differences that exist within the same communities. Decision-makers and local authorities need to strengthen the dialogue with vulnerable communities to implement differentiated, contextualized and needs-based COVID-19 response strategies for specific groups such as indigenous communities, migrants and refugees. To improve the effectiveness of the information about the virus and vaccines, the IFRC encourages the use of adapted and understandable messages in native languages, using the most trusted actors as spokespersons with communities. It also suggests articulating activities with health staff and humanitarian organizations as key actors to strengthen trust and promote greater adoption of protection and vaccination measures against COVID-19. Continuing advocacy efforts to guarantee universal and prompt access to vaccines will also remain vital to overcoming the pandemic, as well as promoting the implementation of socioeconomic recovery measures that meet the needs of the most vulnerable households and groups. This study was conducted between June and October 2021 and is based on a survey of 7,743 individuals in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Guatemala, Jamaica, Nicaragua, Panama, and Trinidad and Tobago. In those countries, the local Red Cross teams, which play a key role based on long-lasting relationships with communities, explored the perceptions of especially vulnerable populations, regarding four aspects: access and impact of information on COVID-19, knowledge and perception about vaccination, confidence in the COVID-19 vaccine, and the socioeconomic impact of the pandemic. Notes and additional information: Two years after the first case of COVID-19, the Americas region registers 2.7 million associated deaths, 1.7 billion doses of vaccines administered, and setbacks of nearly 30 years in the levels of extreme poverty in Latin America and the Caribbean, as well as an increase in gender inequality and child labour. Since the beginning of the pandemic, the Red Cross has contributed to equitable access to vaccines and implemented COVID-19 response programs in the Americas by: risk communication through adapted and contextualized approaches to communities, as well as community mobilization and hygiene promotion activities for 52 million people; specifically, 10 million have received information about the COVID-19 vaccine the implementation of sanitation and hygiene activities involving 13 million people supporting the immunization of 3.4 million individuals providing food or other assistance to 86 million and assisting 358 thousand people with mental health services and psychosocial support. For more information or to schedule interviews with specialists on the COVID-19 situation in the Americas region, please contact theAmericas regional office in Panama: David Quijano, +57 310 559 2559, [email protected] Susana Arroyo, [email protected]

Read more
10/03/2022 | Press release

Ukraine: Millions at risk as health concerns exacerbate vulnerabilities

Budapest/Geneva, 10 March 2022 – As the conflict continues in Ukraine and a cold front descends, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) warns of the dire health - including the spread of COVID-19 - and mental health consequences for millions of people both inside and outside of the country. The fighting in Ukraine has continued for two weeks and no one has been left unscathed. An estimated 18 million people – a third of the country’s population – will need humanitarian assistance, and more than 2.3 million people have fled to neighbouring countries. As the lives of millions are being upended, there is a real concern of diseases spreading, pre-existing health conditions worsening and mental health concerns increasing. “Many of the people affected were already vulnerable before the conflict and now face an even harsher situation as they are losing their homes and their livelihoods, being forced to seek shelter wherever they can or fleeing their country in search of safety. They urgently need food, water and shelter, but also emergency medical care, protective measures and psychosocial support to avert an even greater humanitarian catastrophe,” said Birgitte Bischoff Ebbesen, IFRC Regional Director for Europe. At the Przemyśl railway station in Poland, a woman was crying and being comforted by a volunteer from the Polish Red Cross. When asked what had happened, she answered that she had spent the whole night and day waiting for the train from Ukraine that would bring her daughter to safety. The train had finally arrived, but her daughter had not. People fleeing conflict often experience highly distressing situations, loss and trauma, which may impact their mental health and ability to cope. Psychosocial support will be needed in the days, weeks, and months to come. In conflict settings, public health measures to prevent diseases from spreading become extremely challenging. People are forced to shelter in crowded spaces with limited sanitary conditions or access to basic health services, which increases the risk of infectious disease outbreaks, such as tuberculosis and diarrheal diseases. The spread of COVID-19 is a particular concern as the vaccination rate in Ukraine is among the lowest in Europe with only one-third of the population having received the first dose. Ukraine also has one of the highest rates of multidrug resistant tuberculosis in the world. Adding to what is already a desperate situation, temperatures are dropping below freezing. There is an urgent need for warm clothing and adequate shelter to shield people in temporary locations and those who are queuing at the borders from the elements, the majority of whom are women, children and older people. “Our Red Cross and Red Crescent teams in Ukraine and neighbouring countries are doing their utmost to support anyone in need, in particular those who are most at-risk including unaccompanied minors, single parent households, older people, and people with disabilities. They have the full support of IFRC and our global network, but more funding is desperately needed as millions of lives are at stake. Even if the armed conflict was to end tomorrow, the humanitarian consequences will be felt for years to come,” said Bischoff Ebbesen. Notes to editors In Ukraine, Red Cross teams are providing first aid and first aid training, helping in reception centres and to transport people to safety, and distributing relief items, including warm clothes. Despite the mortal danger they themselves are under, 3,000 new local volunteers have stepped up to support their neighbours. In Hungary, Red Cross teams are operating three health service points at the border. They are also running reception and collection centres where they are welcoming people crossing from Ukraine and distributing relief goods. In Poland, where 60 per cent (more than a million) of people from Ukraine are fleeing, the Polish Red Cross has activated more than 20 rescue teams, including approximately 450 medics, who are providing round-the-clock health care and psychosocial support at five of the eight border points as well as in major cities. In Moldova, volunteers and staff from Moldova Red Cross have provided support to approximately 200,000 people who have crossed over from Ukraine. They are at all border crossing points offering hot tea, warm food, diapers, and personal protective equipment including face masks and sanitizer. Volunteers are also helping at reception centres, assisting with food preparation and playing with children. In Russia, Red Cross teams have delivered 187 tonnes of aid including clothing, hygiene kits, baby products and household items. They are providing psychosocial support, have opened a mental health support hotline and, to date, have provided 756 consultations. More than 160 calls have come in to the restoring family links hotline. In Romania, volunteers and staff from the local Red Cross are at various border crossings distributing food items, water, basic necessities, hygiene products, and thousands of SIM cards to people in need. The Red Cross is helping local authorities in equipping reception centres with tents, bedding, food and hygiene and baby items. Volunteers are also visiting placement centres, playing with children and helping local staff to prepare food and other necessary support. In Slovakia the Red Cross is at all three of the country’s border crossings, where teams are providing services such as warming shelters, referrals to essential services, and first aid. As people are quickly moving on from the border area, the Red Cross is quickly scaling up support along the routes. This support includes psychosocial support and providing child-friendly spaces; social services, particularly referrals for services such as education, healthcare and registration for legal status; providing first aid, health assessments, referrals to clinical care and COVID-19 testing. For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact: In Budapest: Kathy Mueller, [email protected], +1 226 376 4013 In Budapest: Nora Peter, [email protected], +36 70 953 7709 In Geneva: Caroline Haga, +358 50 598 0500, [email protected] Read more about the IFRC's emergency appeal for Ukraine and impacted countries. Photos and videos: Ukraine - Romania - Hungary - Croatia - Poland - Slovakia - Russia - Moldova - IFRC Newsroom

Read more
07/03/2022 | Press release

COVID-19 two years on: A new normal for some while millions still at risk, warns Red Cross Red Crescent

Geneva, 7 March 2022 – Two years into the COVID-19 pandemic, as many countries are declaring the crisis chapter over, millions of lives are still at stake. Much of the world lacks the high vaccination coverage, strong healthcare systems or testing capacities to be able to transition to “a new normal”. Until everyone has access to the same tools to fight and recover from COVID-19, this crisis cannot be solved and will continue to impact everyone. Francesco Rocca, President of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), said: “'Living with the virus’ is a privilege that many countries and communities around the world cannot enjoy. Ensuring equitable access to vaccines, diagnostics and treatments will not only save lives, but will also protect the world against the emergence of new and more dangerous variants. It is the only path to normalcy. None of us is safe until we all are.” Red Cross Red Crescent staff and volunteers are working around the clock to bridge the equity gap ensuring that vaccines make it from the airport tarmac into the arms of vulnerable, at-risk, and marginalized individuals and communities. Their role is crucial, not just in helping people to get vaccinated, but also in informing communities, building trust, and dispelling misinformation about COVID-19 vaccines. Since the outset of the pandemic, they have reached over 300 million people through immunization activities. In countries like Zambia, where health systems are fragile and rumors around vaccines are spreading fast, vaccine supply is just one of numerous obstacles. The Zambia Red Cross Society (ZRCS) has set up a mobile COVID-19 vaccination campaign, bringing vaccines directly to people in hard-to-access areas. Volunteers mobilize communities for vaccination, raise awareness about the mobile vaccination centers, provide information about vaccines and engage local leaders as advocates for healthy behavior change. In Afghanistan, a new wave of infections is hitting hard, and the country’s health system is struggling to cope. Afghan Red Crescent is ramping up services at its health clinics across the country and its COVID-19 hospital in Kabul, while supporting nationwide vaccination efforts and running information campaigns on preventing the spread of the virus. In the Pacific region, the virus is running rampant in several countries for the first time. This record surge of infections is threatening to overwhelm hospitals and health systems. In countries like Fiji and Vanuatu, with more than 165 inhabited islands, Red Cross volunteers have been travelling by car, boat and foot to reach remote communities to increase awareness about COVID-19 and get people vaccinated. COVID-19 has not only thrived on longstanding inequities but also intensified them, pushed families into poverty, and increased domestic violence and mental health issues. Women, urban communities and migrants have been disproportionately affected by the devastating socioeconomic impacts. More than 5 million children have also lost a parent or another caregiver to COVID-19. Psychosocial support has been at the centre of our work, and volunteers are seeing a significant rise in mental health support needs. Francesco Rocca, President of IFRC, said: “This pandemic is not just a health crisis. Entire communities will continue to endure socioeconomic and mental health impacts for years to come. We cannot let COVID-19 become the disease of the world’s poorest and most vulnerable. It is critical that the global response and recovery include everyone and focus on building resilient communities and stronger health systems.” For more information or to arrange an interview, contact: In Geneva: Marie Claudet, +1 202 999 8689, [email protected] In Geneva:Tommaso Della Longa, +41 79 708 43 67, [email protected] Click here to learn more about the IFRC's COVID-19 emergency appeal.

Read more
11/03/2022 | Press release

Americas: Five million more people in extreme poverty and highly exposed to disasters after two years of COVID-19 pandemic

Panama, 11 March 2022.Two years since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic five million more people are in extreme poverty in Latin America and the Caribbean, making them more exposed to the impact of disasters, warns the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC). This brings the total number of people in extreme poverty in the region to 86 million, with women, migrants and people in vulnerable urban areas especially impacted. Since the start of the pandemic in 2020, the IFRC and Red Cross societies network in the Americas have provided water, sanitation and community hygiene services to more than 10 million people. Its teams in the field provided information on COVID-19 and vaccines to more than seven million and supported the vaccination of 1.5 million people. It has also responded in parallel to the humanitarian needs of more than 680,000 people affected by disasters during the pandemic. Martha Keays, IFRC director for the Americas, said: "The income, savings and purchasing power of the most vulnerable families have declined, and unless we act in 2022, we will continue to witness these effects in the form of hunger, exclusion and unequal access to COVID-19 vaccines. To avoid this, we urgently need to protect the livelihoods of the most vulnerable, ensure equitable access to vaccines in low- and middle-income countries, and build trust in communities." This level of extreme poverty, not seen in 27 years, leaves vulnerable communities highly exposed to the impact of disasters, such as the recent rains and floods in South America and other climate crisis-related events. It also increases their risk of displacement and migration. In 2020 alone, at least 1.5 million people were displaced in Central America due to emergencies, including hurricanes Eta and Iota. Globally, since the beginning of the pandemic, at least 139 million people have suffered the compound effects of COVID-19 and climate-related disasters. Ghotai Ghazialam, IFRC's COVID-19 operations manager for the Americas, said: "During the response of the COVID-19 pandemic of the past 24 months we witnessed how communities were pushed further to poverty and inequality, while facing other parallel emergencies related with climate events; this affected people already in a very critical situation. To strengthen their resilience, it is critical to accelerate and support their socioeconomic recovery and ensure their access to vaccines and comprehensive health services, all of which are key to preventing them from falling into irreversible precariousness.’’ In 2022, local Red Cross teams will continue to promote disaster risk reduction, preparedness, equitable access to vaccines, and implement their COVID-19 response programs. These programmes will continue especially in areas where vaccination rates are low, such as in the Caribbean region, through cash transfers, vaccination of isolated populations, ongoing research on the impact of the pandemic on the well-being of populations, and activites to build trust in vaccines. Notes and additional information: • New report warns that climate contributes to humanitarian crises in vulnerable contexts and drives displacement in every region of the world. • The Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean report indicates increases in extreme poverty and inequality. • IFRC warns of the devastating socio-economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic in the report ''Drowning just below the surface''. • 2 years of COVID-19 / 11 unprecedented moments: a selection of pictures to never forget of the biennium of the pandemic. For more information or to schedule interviews with specialists on the COVID-19 situation in the Americas region, please contact: In Panama, David Quijano, +57 310 559 2559, [email protected] In Panama, Susana Arroyo, [email protected]

Read more
23/02/2022 | Press release

Afghanistan: Global support critical as COVID runs rampant

Kuala Lumpur/Kabul/Geneva, 23 February –The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies calls for urgent global support for health and testing services, and vaccinations to slow the spread of COVID-19 that is surging across all areas of Afghanistan, stretching the country’s fragile healthcare system. A new wave is hitting Afghanistan hard. Testing is inadequate, and the World Health Organisation reports that almost half of tested samples are coming back positive, indicating an alarming spread of the virus. With only 10 per cent of people fully vaccinated according to Our World in Data, the country’s fragile health system is struggling to cope with the surge in COVID-19 infections after dozens of COVID-19 health facilities were forced to close due to lack of medicines, essential medical supplies, and a lack of funds to pay for utilities and salaries of health workers. Fewer than 10 of the country’s 37 public COVID-19 health facilities remain functional, and they are unable to keep up with demand. Afghan Red Crescent is ramping up services at its health clinics across Afghanistan and its COVID-19 hospital in Kabul while supporting nationwide vaccination efforts and running information campaigns on preventing spread of the disease. Mawlawi Mutiul Haq Khales, Afghan Red Crescent Acting President, said: “As the number of COVID-19 infections increase from cities to remote corners of the country, the international community needs to open up the doors to support critical healthcare, testing and other essential services before it’s too late for the people of Afghanistan. "It is vital to increase the number of functional COVID-19 health facilities so that pressure can be eased on the few functioning hospitals.” International sanctions have severed hundreds of millions of dollars in foreign aid that is critical for maintaining the country’s health care system, including forcing the closure of dozens of COVID-19 case management facilities. Compounding the health crisis, a measles outbreak has infected thousands and killed dozens of people last month alone in Afghanistan. Necephor Mghendi, IFRC’s Head of Delegation for Afghanistan, said: “The measles outbreak is alarming since Afghanistan is in the middle of one of the worst droughts and food crises in decades, leaving children malnourished and far more vulnerable to the highly contagious disease. "It’s crucial for us to get relief to communities struggling in the face of multiple crises and severe hunger, while urgently investing in local institutions that deliver vital basic services including COVID-19 testing, treatment and vaccinations. “Locally staffed community health programs and a well-functioning public health system are proven ways to help the most vulnerable in the communities across Afghanistan.” As part of this ongoing support, the IFRC is urgently appealing to the international community for more than 65 million Swiss francs to support the Afghan Red Crescent to deliver health services, emergency relief and recovery assistance to more than 1 million people in the provinces hit by multiple crises. For more information or to arrange an interview, contact: Asia Pacific Office: Antony Balmain, +60 12 230 8451, [email protected] Asia Pacific Office: Joe Cropp, +61 491 743 089, [email protected]

Read more
17/02/2022 | Press release

Solomon Islands: Vaccines vital as COVID overloads health system

Kuala Lumpur/Honiara/Suva, 17 February 2022 – Ramping up vaccinations is critical in the Solomon Islands as COVID-19 crashes across the country overloading the country’s fragile health system from the capital city Honiara to remote islands and villages. Free of COVID-19 in the community one month ago, the Solomon Islands has reported nearly 5,000 infections and more than 50 deaths. Last week, authorities said one in every two people had COVID-19 symptoms, and testing was overwhelmed, indicating that many more people are sick with the virus. More health workers are infected with COVID-19 limiting medical treatment, testing and vaccinations. Authorities are training non-health workers on how to scale up rapid testing to urgently help fill the gap. Clement Manuri, Secretary General of Solomon Islands Red Cross Society said: “COVID-19 is spreading faster than the wind from our cities and towns to the most remote communities. Testing and health services are overloaded, and this dangerous virus is running rampant in villages where people are yet to be given a first dose of the vaccine. “We are urgently sending more Red Cross teams to raise awareness on how deadly this virus is so that people can protect themselves. We are helping people with critical information on how to isolate at home and care for sick family members.” In the Solomon Islands, only 11 per cent of the eligible population have received two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine and 16 per cent have received a first dose, according to Our World in Data. Misinformation and rumours have contributed to people being hesitant to get vaccinated. Getting vaccines to remote island communities remains a major logistical challenge. Katie Greenwood Pacific Head of Delegation, International Federation of Red Cross Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) said: “We have already seen in Fiji and Papua New Guinea how this ruthless virus overwhelms hospitals and health systems. As COVID takes off across the Pacific, it’s more important than ever that vaccines get in the arms of people who are unvaccinated.” "Solomon Islands and other countries in the Pacific are facing their first wave of COVID-19 and it’s clear that vaccinations help protect people from severe illness, hospitalisation and death, particularly in countries with fragile health systems. “Increasing vaccination rates in the Pacific is crucial to prevent death and suffering. We must remember that it’s also critical to help control the spread of this virus by maintaining physical distance, wearing masks, washing hands and avoiding crowded places.” For more information, contact: In Honiara: Kennedy Waitara, +677 7388 152, [email protected] In Suva: Soneel Ram, +679 9983 688, [email protected] Asia Pacific Office: Courtney Wilson, +61 481 150 973, [email protected] Asia Pacific Office: Antony Balmain, +60 12 230 8451, [email protected]

Read more
01/02/2022 | Press release

Pacific: COVID-19 endangers fragile health systems

Kuala Lumpur/Suva 1 February 2022 – A record surge of COVID-19 is threatening to overwhelm hospitals and fragile health systems in Pacific countries as the virus is running rampant in several countries for the first time. Solomon Islands is experiencing its first-ever community outbreak, with more than 780 reported cases and its first five COVID-19 related deaths. Fiji is experiencing its third wave of COVID-19 infections, fuelled by the Omicron variant, while previously COVID-free countries Kiribati and Palau have also recorded community infections. Katie Greenwood Pacific Head of Delegation, International Federation of Red Cross Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) said: “For nearly two years most Pacific countries have done an incredible job holding COVID-19 at bay. These new outbreaks in small Pacific countries threaten health systems that are fragile and struggling to cope with needs of Pacific Islanders. Every effort must be made to prevent and contain the virus. “While vaccination rates are remarkable in some Pacific countries, others are still far too low. It’s critical that vaccines doses reach the last mile to everyone across the Pacific, with trusted information about how vaccinations provide protection from severe illness and death. “Building vaccine confidence is vital in the Pacific to make sure we reach a critical mass of people vaccinated in all countries. Although we know physical distancing and isolation within households can be very difficult in many places, with the huge surge of the Omicron variant around the world, these measures, along with wearing masks, are critical for slowing infection rates.” Some countries in the Pacific have high vaccination rates, such as Palau, where 96 per cent of the population has received two doses and Fiji with 68 per cent. Other countries have much lower numbers of people vaccinated, such as Solomon Islands with 10 per cent, Vanuatu with 22 per cent, and Kiribati has just one in three people fully vaccinated. Healthcare systems in many Pacific countries suffer from lack of resources and have limited equipment and infrastructure. This is compounded by challenging logistics and communities spread across remote islands, making the provision of healthcare difficult. Pacific countries also face cyclones and floods in the coming weeks, while responding to other disasters such as the volcanic eruption and tsunami in Tonga. “Many people around the Pacific are currently dealing with a bitter double whammy of severe disasters and the COVID-19 pandemic. "In Fiji, Cyclone Cody has affected tens of thousands of people as the latest COVID surge skyrockets in the country. Providing support to people affected by these floods and the tsunami and volcanic eruption in Tonga is critical, though harder than ever. “We must not swap one disaster for another. It is vital that every measure is taken to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the Pacific.” For more information, contact: In Suva: Soneel Ram, +679 9983 688, [email protected] Asia Pacific Office: Courtney Wilson, +61 481 150 973, [email protected] Asia Pacific Office: Antony Balmain, +60 12 230 8451, [email protected]

Read more
12/01/2022 | Press release

South Asia: Omicron threatens to overwhelm health systems

Kuala Lumpur/Delhi, 12 January 2022: The Omicron variant is fuelling a rapid surge of COVID-19 across South Asia that threatens to overwhelm health systems still reeling from a deadly wave of the Delta variant last year. Countries across South Asia from India to Nepal and Bangladesh are reporting alarming increases in COVID-19 infections, with India alone reporting a 2,013 per cent increase in COVID-19 infections in the past month, with cases now topping 179,000 in a day. The new wave is causing further misery for hundreds of millions of people across South Asia, already living in extreme poverty, exacerbated by COVID-19 over the past two years. Udaya Regmi, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) Head of Delegation, South Asia, said: “This latest surge of COVID-19 spells immense danger for millions of people and health systems across South Asia. Omicron is spreading fast and while vaccination rates have been soaring, after such tragic loss of life last year, fear is mounting of record infection rates. “People everywhere want this pandemic to end but we must boost efforts to keep people safe with the basics, by wearing masks, avoiding crowds, and getting fully vaccinated where possible.” Last year, health systems were boosted by IFRC with increased supplies of oxygen equipment across South Asia, helping health authorities to be prepared for this latest COVID-19 surge. Several million Red Cross and Red Crescent volunteers are working hard to provide people most at risk with access to lifesaving medical care, testing and vaccinations. In South Asia, a majority of countries have vaccinated less than 50 per cent of their population, putting people at greater risk of developing severe illness and requiring hospitalisation. India has fully vaccinated 45 per cent of its population, while Pakistan has 32.8 per cent and Bangladesh 33 per cent who have received two jabs, according to Oxford University’s Our World in Data. Dr Abhishek Rimal, IFRC’s Asia Pacific Emergency Health Coordinator, said: “The Omicron variant appears to have milder symptoms than the Delta variant, but it is more infectious, so high case numbers are still leading to thousands of people being hospitalised and hundreds are dying. “We must accelerate efforts to get everyone vaccinated, and it’s critical to wear masks and avoid crowds, to keep families, friends and people most vulnerable safe. “To avoid endless waves of this deadly virus, we need vaccines to be available to everyone, in every country, especially for people who have not yet had their first dose and those most at risk, including older people and healthcare workers.” For more information or to arrange an interview, contact: Asia Pacific Office: Antony Balmain, +60 12 230 8451, [email protected] South Asia Delegation: Arabella Seebaluck, +12349000801, [email protected] Asia Pacific Office: Courtney Wilson, +61 481 150 973, [email protected]

Read more
02/12/2021 | Press release

“Impulsive reactions are an affront to the global solidarity we need to successfully respond to a crisis of this scale.”

“The consensus reached among Member States this week to commit to a legal instrument that has preparedness, equity and a whole-society approach at its centre, is crucial. That the discussions this week took place in the shadow of Omicron, could not more clearly evidence the need for global collaboration to prepare and respond to pandemics. “But broad principles agreed are not enough. When Member States next meet, they will need to drill down on exactly what is required to achieve these. We also need to keep in mind that this process is an opportunity to address the mistrust that has plagued the response, and so we urge member states to keep communities at the centre of discussions. We need to build on what has been learnt and instrumentalize an approach to global pandemics that is powerful on paper, and transformational in reality.” Commenting on the Omicron variant discovery, Chapagain added: “It has been an illusion to believe that speedy vaccination in some countries, while massive pockets of the world remain without access to vaccines, will bring this pandemic to an end. And instead of applauding the great science and the transparency that helped to uncover a new variant, countries punished it with impulsive reactions. This is an affront to the global solidarity we need to successfully respond to a crisis of this scale.” For further information In Geneva: Ann Vaessen, [email protected], +41 79 405 77 50

Read more
01/12/2021 | Article

COVID-19: Scaling up testing and strengthening national health systems with EU support

Since the beginning of the pandemic, National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies in Europe have been supporting their countries’ health authorities in the fight against COVID-19 through a wide range of services to help curb the spread of the virus and ensure nobody is left behind. In Austria, Germany, Greece, Italy, Malta, Portugal and Spain, National Societies expanded mobile testing capacities thanks to a EUR 35.5 million partnership between the European Commission and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC). The European Commission financed this project as part of its Emergency Support Instrument to boost testing capacities and provide immediate support to Member States. The project’s success – it trained and equipped more testing teams as initially targeted – shows the value of a coordinated response to the coronavirus pandemic amongst European Red Cross National Societies. From September 2020 to September 2021, this initiative has been a vital part of the COVID-19 response, making RT-PCR and rapid antigen testing available for more people. Local Red Cross teams performed more than 1.2 million tests within the scope of the project. Moreover, 6,800 Red Cross staff and volunteers were trained for testing and 1,428 mobile teams were set up and equipped to provide COVID-19 testing services. The outreach role of National Red Cross Societies and their capacity to reach vulnerable groups has been particularly important in countries like Greece and Malta, where the Red Cross provided health and care services to migrants and refugees. Set up in camps and remote areas, these testing facilities aimed to help contain the spread of COVID-19 where access to health services was often limited. “Testing is essential to help contain the pandemic. With all its initial targets surpassed, the project has proven that National Societies can play a key role in supporting national health systems in Europe and has opened new possibilities for further collaboration with health authorities,” said IFRC project coordinator Francisco Fong. Local Red Cross teams also set up testing stations at transport hubs where a large number of people pass by every day. In Italy, staff and volunteers offered rapid antigen tests free of charge at 10 train stations across the country for travellers and commuters. In countries like Austria, Germany, Portugal and Spain, the Red Cross mobile testing teams have been invaluable in reaching out to marginalised communities in the countryside, where many people don’t have health insurance. As coronavirus cases and deaths continue to surge across Europe, collective efforts are more important than ever to disrupt transmission chains and save lives. The partnership between the European Commission and the Red Cross Red Crescent Movement has been instrumental in providing support to health authorities and curbing the spread of COVID-19.

Read more
29/11/2021 | Press release

“Impulsive and ineffective reactions” to COVID-19’s Omicron variant will send more Africans into poverty

In response to the news that a number of countries are restricting travel from South Africa and several other countries in the region; Mohammed Mukhier, IFRC Regional Director for Africa, said: “This impulsive wave of travel bans will further worsen the livelihoods of families across Africa. We need greater science-driven coordination to bring an end to this pandemic—not impulsive reactions. South Africa should not be punished for doing a good job of detecting a new COVID-19 variant, especially when imposing travel bans is likely to do more harm than good. The emergence of a new variant is happening against the background of low vaccine coverage, and this is where the focus should have been all along. We reiterate our call for equitable vaccine coverage. Variants will continue to emerge while the virus continues to circulate. Vaccine, data and knowledge equity are key to protecting the African continent and the world. We call on the international community to make decisions based on solid scientific evidence and avoid any move which may unjustifiably lead to a further worsening of the socioeconomic impacts of COVID-19.” For more information In London: Teresa Goncalves, [email protected], +44 7891 857 056 In Nairobi: Euloge Ishimwe, [email protected], +254 735 437 906

Read more
29/11/2021 | Press release

"The pandemic has both thrived on inequities and exacerbated them"

“The pandemic has both thrived on inequities and exacerbated them. Any new legal instrument, be it a treaty or otherwise, must affirm a commitment to equity: equity in access to health services and care, equity in access to vaccines, data, diagnostics and other treatments, and equity in access to recovery efforts, including economic recovery. “Too often we neglect the important work of community-level responders. We need increased investments and coordination in programmes that put communities at the heart of the response. “This pandemic has made it clear that we need bold new solutions – both in international and domestic laws – to avoid the same mistakes happening again. “Public health emergencies are our past, our present, and we will face them again. The COVID-19 pandemic is not over, yet two years on we are still overly reactive and uncoordinated. Variants, like Omicron, will continue to emerge while the virus continues to circulate. Vaccine, data and knowledge equity are key to protecting the global population. “Based on the IFRC’s years of experience in responding to health crises around the world, and on our network’s mandate to assist Governments with legal preparedness for disasters and public health emergencies, we stand ready to strengthen this work. Whatever the outcome of these sessions, it must not only be powerful on paper, but it must also be transformative in reality.” For further information In London: Teresa Goncalves, +44 (0) 7891 857 056, [email protected]

Read more