Economic crisis

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15/08/2023 | Press release

Afghanistan: Intensified support critical amid deteriorating economic and humanitarian situation

Kabul/Kuala Lumpur/Geneva, 15 August – Economic hardships have sharply intensified living conditions in Afghanistan. The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) calls for continued humanitarian support to Afghanistan, coupled with investment in long-term solutions. More than two years after drought began affecting the region, nearly 28 million Afghans – both in cities and remote areas – struggle to meet basic needs. Economic hardships and continuous shocks have greatly diminished buying power, making many reliant on humanitarian assistance. Mawlawi Mutiul Haq Khales, Afghan Red Crescent Society Acting President, said: “The economic situation remains challenging for vulnerable Afghans, including women and girls. They have endured immense hardships and primarily rely on humanitarian assistance to get through shocks brought by drought, natural disasters, and economic hardship.” “Thanks to generous support from our local and international partners, the Afghan Red Crescent has expanded its response operation across all provinces in the first half of this year, aiming to prevent worsening humanitarian situations.” With the support of local and international partners, the Afghan Red Crescent has reached more than 500,000 households (approximately 3.5 million people) with a range of services. These include 3 million people with health services and awareness, more than 100,000 households (around 700,000 people) with food assistance, and at least 35,000 households (around 245,000 people) with cash assistance. “Now, due to reduced funding and increasing demand for services, we are prioritizing assistance to the most vulnerable. This includes providing cash assistance for widows, offering mental health and psychosocial support, and supporting children with congenital heart defects. For this, we request our partners to bolster their contributions,” Mawlawi Mutiul Haq Khales added. Afghanistan is grappling not only with its third consecutive year of drought but also with economic hardships that exacerbate the ongoing humanitarian situation. The current trend of foreign aid, primarily limited to humanitarian interventions due to sanctions or lack of international recognition of the current authorities, hinders long-term solution efforts. Necephor Mghendi, IFRC’s Head of Delegation for Afghanistan, said: “The humanitarian situation is becoming harsher, and we are increasing our support to the Afghan Red Crescent—with limited financial resources—to alleviate conditions for people most at risk, keeping in mind the need to combine immediate assistance with durable solutions that also address root-causes and vulnerabilities.” “We can’t address the humanitarian situation without investing in longer-term development solutions or addressing the economic crisis. They are intrinsically linked.” “As some parts of the world also grapple with man-made and natural hazards, people should not forget that Afghanistan is still facing one of the worst humanitarian crises in the world. Though headlines might emphasize a few issues, the vast array of needs remain.” The IFRC and Afghan Red Crescent are increasing preparedness for the upcoming winter and ever-present potential disasters. Stocks of winterization kits, tarps, tents, water storage containers, hygiene supplies, cooking utensils, and other essential household items are being pre-positioned in strategic locations across the country. Furthermore, Afghan Red Crescent disaster response teams are being equipped with updated data collection kits, identification materials, and refresher training. The Afghan Red Crescent Society has a branch in each province of the country, boasts a strong network of 24,600 volunteers, including women who are crucial to delivering services to vulnerable groups, especially women and girls. Community members – men, boys, women, and girls – remain central to the efforts of the Red Cross and Red Crescent: as recipients, designers, and deliverers. To support the Afghan Red Crescent, the IFRC revises its emergency appeal to the international community for 120 million Swiss francs to deliver urgent humanitarian aid to over two million people affected by multiple crises. For more information or to arrange an interview, contact: Afghanistan: Mir Abdul Tawab Razavy, +93-747-407-027, [email protected] Kuala Lumpur: Afrhill Rances, +60-192-713-641, [email protected] Geneva:Mrinalini Santhanam, +41763815006,[email protected]

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21/07/2022 | Press release

Sri Lanka on brink of humanitarian crisis

Colombo/Kuala Lumpur, 21 July 2022 – The economic crisis in Sri Lanka is tipping into one of the country’s worst humanitarian crises in decades, with 6.7 million people now in urgent need of humanitarian assistance. Millions of families are facing shortages of food, fuel, cooking gas, essential supplies, and medicines as the humanitarian impacts of the economic crisis continue to multiply. The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent (IFRC) holds particularly grave concerns for 2.4 million people already living below the poverty line who are among the most affected by the loss of livelihoods, food shortages and spiraling cost of essential items. Sri Lanka Red Cross Secretary General, Mahesh Gunasekara, said: “The situation has taken a devastating turn for people already struggling to put food on the table during the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s even worse for single parent households, and millions who cannot work or send their children to school because of the fuel crisis. “We need international support now to help millions of people pull their lives back together and avoid the worse. We need to act early to ensure lives can be saved.” The IFRC is supporting the Sri Lanka Red Cross Society (SLRCS) as the main national humanitarian actor. The SLRCS is a neutral and impartial organization which has been providing humanitarian assistance since the country’s independence. Over 10,000 dry ration food packs and 4000 cash grants have so far been distributed in 25 districts of the county, 5000 school packs have been given out in 10 districts. Clean water is being provided to those queuing for days for fuel and food parcels for 10,000 families in four districts. SLRCS is working closely with Ministry of Health to provide essential medicines that are currently in short supply to hospitals. First aiders and the Red Cross ambulances been providing emergency medical response to over 20,000 people injured during recent protests, including demonstrators and security forces. SLRCS has provided Ambulance services to over 1000 people and transported them to hospitals for further treatments. Speaking from Colombo, IFRC’s Special advisor for Humanitarian Crises and Emergencies Maryann Horne said: “The effects of the economic crisis are being felt in every single sector. The economic crisis is plunging those most vulnerable – some 2.4 million people already living below the poverty line into despair. With no income, people are barely able to cope, and are now selling their assets, getting into debt, being forced to cut down on food while many children are not able to go to school. “The emergency appeal will allow the most urgent humanitarian needs to be met. It will help prevent those most vulnerable at a time people have no cash, no jobs, and no fuel." The IFRC has launched an Emergency Appeal in support of Sri Lanka Red Cross for 28 million Swiss francs for urgent humanitarian assistance. For more information or to arrange an interview, contact: Kuala Lumpur: Rachel Punitha, +60-19-791-3830, [email protected] Colombo: Maryann Horne, +44-7912-477-045, [email protected]

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27/01/2022 | Press release

Syria: Extremely harsh winter raises acute humanitarian needs to highest level ever

Damascus/Beirut, 27 January 2022–Extreme winter conditions are putting communities already overwhelmed by overlapping crises in immediate danger, resulting in the highest level of acute humanitarian needs ever in Syria, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) warns. In many areas, this winter has been one of the coldest in the past decade, with snowstorms and sub-zero temperatures. IFRC is deeply concerned about the situation in the country as the number of people in need of humanitarian assistance has reached the highest since the start of the crisis. According to the UN, a total of 14.6 million people needs support, 1.2 million more than in 2021. 6.9 million people are internally displaced. Mads Brinch Hansen, Head of the IFRC Delegation in Syria, said: “Exceptionally cold weather is making the lives of many people all around Syria even more difficult, especially the displaced communities living in temporary shelters who don’t have appropriate clothing or heating for sub-zero temperatures. “The situation in Syria is worse than ever. The price of basic commodities such as food and fuel has skyrocketed making them unaffordable for the majority of people, escalations of violence are intensifying, and COVID-19 continues to put an extra burden on communities. At the same time, funding for humanitarian actors is shrinking.” Eng. Khaled Hboubati, President of the Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC), said: “Daily, our volunteers in Hassakeh and everywhere in Syria see more people who are asking for support, more children who are without winter clothes in the middle of the storm. The situation is getting worse amid the COVID-19 pandemic and the economic sanctions that complicate our humanitarian response. “We will continue doing our best to alleviate the suffering of millions of people and preserve their dignity. We need the support from partners and donors to restore the livelihoods of people and ensure sustainable solutions to accelerate the recovery.” Hassakeh, where up to 45,000 people have been displaced by recent violence at Sina'a Prison, is one of the hardest-hit regions with sub-zero temperatures making the winter one of the coldest in recent history. Snow has also covered the Al-Hol camp, which hosts more than 60,000 displaced people. SARC continues to be the main humanitarian actor in the country with thousands of volunteers responding to the acute needs caused by the conflict, economic crisis, and COVID-19 as well as the cold wave. In Hassakeh, SARC has a key role in evacuating as well as providing medical services and drinking water for the newly displaced and the communities hosting them. Almost 11 years since the start of the conflict, Syria continues to be one of the biggest and most complex humanitarian crises globally. Homes and whole cities have been utterly destroyed, forcing mass displacement. According to the UN, 90 percent of the population in Syria lives below the poverty line and 70 percent are facing acute food shortages – figures that have not seen improvement in recent years due to the economic downturn, instability and disasters driven by climate change. In 2021, Syria faced the worst drought in more than 50 years. To scale up the Syrian Arab Red Crescent's humanitarian response and meet the growing needs, IFRC calls for partners and donors to continue showing their solidarity towards the people in Syria. Funding is more urgent than ever to ensure Syrian people can cover their basic needs and maintain a life of dignity. For more information: In Beirut: Jani Savolainen, IFRC, [email protected], +961 70372812 In Damascus: Rahaf Aboud, Syrian Arab Red Crescent, [email protected], +963 959999853 Read more: IFRC Syria Country Plan For the editors: About the Syrian Arab Red Crescent: The Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC) is the main humanitarian actor in Syria. It has more than 13,500 staff members and volunteers in 14 branches and 97 sub-branches nationwide. Annually SARC reaches 5.6 million people with humanitarian assistance. About the IFRC: The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is the world’s largest humanitarian network, comprising 192 National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies working to save lives and promote dignity around the world. With a permanent delegation in Syria since 2007, IFRC has played a pivotal role in providing humanitarian services and supporting the Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC) in their organisational and strategic development and in strengthening SARC’s operational capacity.

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24/11/2021 | Article

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

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

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22/11/2021 | Press release

Drowning just below the surface: New IFRC research reveals magnitude of socioeconomic impacts of COVID-19 pandemic

Geneva, 22 November 2021 – Women, people in urban areas and those on the move have been disproportionately and uniquely affected by the devastating socioeconomic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. These are some of the findings of new research published today by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC). The COVID-19 pandemic has had major economic impacts on every nation in the world. The IFRC’s new research also shows the extent of the pandemic’s secondary consequences on communities and individuals. This crisis has caused: increased unemployment and poverty; increased food insecurity; a higher vulnerability to violence; and a loss of education and reduced opportunities for children. It has also exacerbated mental health issues. Francesco Rocca, President of the IFRC, said: “Our research shows what we have long suspected and feared, namely that the destructive secondary impacts of this pandemic have damaged the fabric of our society and will be felt for years, if not decades, to come. People who were already vulnerable, due to conflict, climate-change, and poverty, have been pushed further towards the edge. And many people who were previously able to cope have become vulnerable, needing humanitarian support for the first time in their lives.” The new research provides a global overview, with a special focus on ten countries: Afghanistan, Colombia, El Salvador, Iraq, Kenya, Lebanon, Philippines, Spain, South Africa and Turkey. Overall, women had more significant impacts on their income, were at greater risk of COVID-19 due to caregiving roles, more exposed to sexual and gender-based violence and experienced mental health impacts to a greater degree than men. In urban areas, poverty rates grew, in some cases at a faster pace than in rural areas. People on the move were more likely to lose jobs or have their hours cut during the pandemic and have been widely neglected by formal protection and safeguarding measures. Furthermore, a lack of preparedness made it harder for countries to build a comprehensive response to what has simultaneously become a public health emergency, global economic shock, and political and social crisis. “As frontline community responders, National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies around the globe have been able to bridge the gaps in this response. They have a deep knowledge of the inequalities that exist and of how they are perpetuated and are therefore among the best placed to help people to recover from the harms to their livelihoods, health and education. But to continue to do so they will need significant additional support: both financial and political,” Rocca continues. The report also reveals that the world is on course for a wildly unequal recovery, depending on the efficacy and equity of vaccination programmes. “We have consistently warned that the inequitable distribution of vaccines will not only allow for high levels of transmission to continue, but that this inequity will also hinder, prolong, or exacerbate the impacts of this pandemic. While we continue to allow profits to trump humanity and richer countries continue to monopolize doses, we will never be able to say that this pandemic is over. “The world must open its eyes, take heed of what is happening around them and shift from words to action. If not, we face the risk that the recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic will be just as uneven and unjust as the impacts of the pandemic itself,” Rocca concludes. Click here to download and read the report (available in English, Arabic, French and Spanish). For more information and to arrange interviews: In London: Teresa Goncalves, co-author of the report and IFRC COVID-19 Communications Coordinator, +44 (0) 7891 857 056, teresa.gonc[email protected] Watch this short video about the report:

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04/02/2021 | Press release

Six months after Beirut Blast: Deteriorating humanitarian situation needs global solidarity

The Lebanese Red Cross (LRC) and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) appeal for continued global solidarity with the Lebanese people who are suffering from a multi-layered humanitarian crisis. Six months after the Beirut Port Explosion, people have become poorer and sicker, as well as are in urgent need of humanitarian support to cover basic necessities such as food and healthcare. In addition to the economic crisis and civil unrest, Lebanon is witnessing high numbers of COVID-19 infections. Currently, the LRC hotline receives more than 4,000 calls every day, related mostly to coronavirus patients. While the number of people infected by COVID-19 keeps increasing, hospitals are reporting near-full occupancy in beds and intensive care units. In response to this situation, LRC has launched an initiative to provide home oxygen machines to COVID-19 patients who suffer from respiratory difficulties but can’t find a place in a hospital. “We call on donors to support our life-saving services, as we have lost more than 50% of our funding as a result of the economic crisis and the devaluation of the local currency,” says Georges Kettaneh, LRC Secretary General. “LRC already had a major responsibility in providing ambulance and blood services throughout Lebanon, and now we have been called upon to do more and more. Our volunteers and staff are rising to the challenge, but for us to continue doing it, we need support from partners and donors. We need all the support possible – now more than ever,” urges Kettaneh. IFRC is working closely with Lebanese Red Cross who is witnessing a large increase in the demand for its life-saving services. “Every day, the number of Lebanese people who need assistance is increasing. The needs are immense, and many are unmet,” says Cristhian Cortez Cardoza, Head of IFRC Lebanon Country Office. “The solidarity with Lebanon has been most appreciated, but more support is still needed,” Cardoza concludes. Since the explosion, Lebanese Red Cross has provided food parcels, hygiene kits, primary healthcare services, blood units and ambulance services to more than 250,000 people. In addition, Lebanese Red Cross committed 20.5 million USD to support 9,800 most vulnerable affected families by providing them monthly 300 USD financial assistance for 7 months to manage their basic needs. By the 20th January 2021, the affected families had received the third round of direct financial assistance. The explosion at Beirut port rippled through several areas of the capital, damaging homes of more than 300,000 people, killing more than 200 and wounding thousands. Donations to Lebanese Red Cross can be made here.

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07/02/2019 | Press release

Media Advisory: Red Cross President in Venezuela

Geneva/Caracas, 7 February 2019: The President of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, Francesco Rocca, will be in Venezuela between 8-10 February. He will be taking part in a press conference at 13h00 on Friday 8 February at: Venezuelan Red Cross Headquarters Edificio Cruz Roja Venezolana Final av Andres Beloo #4, Caracas During his visit, he will meet Red Cross emergency teams, volunteers and leadership. He will be discussing humanitarian needs in the country and the Red Cross’ response, and will highlight the importance of neutral, independent and impartial humanitarian action.

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