Honduran Red Cross: Kindness shines bright in local communities
It’s 8am on a peaceful Sunday morning in Copán Ruinas, a small, picturesque town in western Honduras that was formerly one of the most powerful cities in the Mayan empire.
Shopkeepers are starting to open their doors. A scattering of women and children play in the main square. And many locals – wearing their signature wide-brimmed hats – are heading out on their morning walks.
But one man stands out in his bright red vest and cap. A large Red Cross emblem and the words Cruz Roja Hondureña proudly emblazoned on the back. I watch for a moment as he chats to people in the village, who all seem to greet him warmly with a handshake or fist bump.
I catch up to him, say a friendly “¡Hola, amigo!” and learn his name is Stanley. A Red Cross volunteer for more than 22 years, he’s on his way to a meeting with fellow volunteers and staff from around their region. He invites me to visit the local branch later that afternoon to learn about what they do.
And so I did! And the welcome couldn’t have been warmer.
Over lunch, I learned that everyone had come together from across the region to share their stories, knowledge, and experiences of supporting their local communities through various crises and day-to-day challenges.
Let me tell you about three of the people I met: Mirian, Napoleón and Loany.
Mirian is the proud President of the Copán branch and has been volunteering for more than 10 years. Her branch runs the only two ambulances in the whole town, meaning that when someone gets into trouble, it’s her team that answers the call.
She oversees far more than emergency health services, though. Her branch does a lot of work helping local people, including indigenous groups living in the surrounding hills and schoolchildren, to be prepared for crises – such as hurricanes and floods.
Her branch is also supporting the growing number of migrants passing through Honduras on their way northwards, including, amongst other things, through Humanitarian Service Points: strategically located spaces where migrants can access safe and reliable support on their journeys.
“I am motivated by humanitarianism, by seeing how the Red Cross is an organization full of love for others. That we are people willing to give everything. For me, it’s the best thing that ever happened to me – being a member of the Red Cross family,” says Mirian.
Napoleón is based in San Pedro Sula, Honduras’ second largest city. He’s a former cameraman who has been volunteering as a driver for the Honduran Red Cross for five years.
A couple of years ago, Napoleón was one of many Honduran Red Cross volunteers who responded to devastating hurricanes Eta and Iota that ravaged the region.
He describes driving a large rescue truck through flood water so deep his vehicle nearly washed away. Despite treacherous conditions, he was able to reach and help rescue many stranded people, their belongings, and pets. He also assisted with the massive recovery and reconstruction effort, helping to put people’s lives and homes back together again.
The pride Napoleón takes in volunteering is written all over his face. His smile beams from ear to ear as he talks about supporting his fellow volunteers and rallying them together during a crisis.
“I like being a volunteer because you donate part of your life and you share feelings in helping humanity. It makes you feel good, feel satisfied, to be able to help,” says Napoleón.
Loany is also based in San Pedro Sula, but her role is a little different. She’s not a volunteer, instead she’s employed by the Honduran Red Cross to help volunteers.
She works with local branches, like the one in Copán, to improve their governance, financial management, and resource mobilization, so that their volunteers can provide better care and support to their communities.
While it might not sound as impressive as wading through flood waters to rescue survivors, Loany’s work is no less important. Strong local branches are the bedrock of the IFRC network. Without them, we can’t provide the fast, effective and local support that communities in crisis really need.
With one year’s experience, Loany is a relative newcomer to the Red Cross family. I asked her what working for the Red Cross means to her and whether she plans to continue:
“For me it means love, because wanting to do things well, wanting to help other people who are vulnerable or at risk, makes us give the best of ourselves as people. Now that I’ve entered the world of the Red Cross, I don’t know if I’ll ever leave!,” she says.
At the end of the volunteer meeting, the group disbands, bidding each other fond farewells.
I walk back to the main square in Copán, thinking about a word we often use in the humanitarian sector: ‘localization’.
It’s a jargon term. But what does it really mean?
I realise that, to me, it means Mirian, Napoleón and Loany: three people working hard within their local communities to make life better, safer, and brighter for those around them.
And it means Stanley: a man treading the same familiar streets for years in his hometown wearing his Red Cross vest. A man known, trusted, and respected by his local community, there for them through good times and bad.
Empress Shôken Fund announces grants for 2023
The Empress Shôken Fund (ESF) is named after Her Majesty Empress Shôken of Japan who – at the 9th International Conference of the Red Cross – proposed the creation of an international fund to promote relief work in peacetime.
The fund is administered by the Joint Commission of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), which maintains close contact with the Permanent Mission of Japan in Geneva, the Japanese Red Cross Society and the Meiji Jingu Intercultural Research Institute in Japan.
The imperial family, the Japanese government, the Japanese Red Cross and the Japanese people revere the memory of Her Majesty Empress Shôken, and their enduring regard for the Fund is evidenced by the regularity of their contributions to it.
The Fund has a total value of more than 14 million Swiss francs and supports projects run by National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies that benefit the communities they serve in many different ways. The first grant was awarded in 1921 to help five European National Societies fight the spread of tuberculosis. Since then, more than15 million Swiss francs have been allocated to 171 National Societies. The grants are announced every year on 11April, the anniversary of the death of Her Majesty Empress Shôken.
Increasingly, the Fund encourages new and innovative approaches with the potential to generate insights that will benefit our International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement.
2023 selection process
The Fund received 51 applications in 2022 for the 102nd distribution of income, covering a diverse range of humanitarian projects run by National Societies globally. The applications submitted featured more innovative proposals than in previous years, further confirming the need for the ESF to support innovation and experimentation within National Societies.
This year the Joint Commission agreed to allocate a total of 367,187 Swiss francs to 13 projects in Albania, Belgium, Burundi, Eswatini, Fiji, Guinea, Honduras, Indonesia, Paraguay, Sudan, Syria, Thailand and Uruguay. The world’s current crises have impacted the performance of the fund, and ESF Joint Commission members have adjusted the process accordingly.
This year the projects selected cover a variety of topics, including first aid and rescue, youth, disaster preparedness, health, and National Society development (NSD).
The 2023 grants by theme
The Fund continues to encourage new and innovative approaches, and this is clearly reflected in the selection of proposals to receive funding. Some National Societies are incubating and testing their innovative solutions and experimenting with a host of ideas and approaches. With their pilot methodology, they could potentially scale up and implement their initiatives with the support of other funding sources.In this category, the selected grantees are as follows:
The Honduran Red Cross has taken an innovative approach to volunteer empowerment and engagement. The goal of its project is to establish a fund that supports innovative micro-projects developed and led by local volunteers. This will help forge stronger links between the National Society and the communities it serves. It has designed a pilot with 12 micro-projects, responding to an identified need to grow activity at the branch level.
The Uruguayan Red Cross is focusing efforts on improving mental health resilience among young people by providing training in schools, creating psychosocial support mechanisms and forming youth brigades. There is a growing need for youth mental health support, and this pilot in two schools will give the team an opportunity to learn and adapt their approach.
The Indonesian Red Cross Society will pilot a community-based approach to environmental awareness and food security. A renovated community learning centre will be used to launch the pilot, which will engage over 100 stay-at-home spouses and 30 children. The project aims to tackle emerging issues, such as climate change, while building stronger community connections.
Many National Societies have prioritized innovative solutions to combat the challenges of climate change. In this category, the selected beneficiaries, in addition to the Indonesian Red Cross Society, are as follows.
Flooding is one of the most devastating natural hazards. The Belgian Red Cross will engage and empower young people impacted by floods to express and share their feelings on climate change through digital story telling. Simple to replicate and scalable, this initiative has the potential to give us tremendous insight and allow for powerful messages to be shared.
As a means of addressing the challenges of climate change, the Burundi Red Cross will engage in implementing activities such as tree planting and promoting improved city waste management. The project is a youth volunteer-led initiative that will reduce youth unemployment. This comprehensive approach will result in significant learning opportunities.
The Paraguayan Red Cross will develop a mobile app that will serve as an early warning system and educate communities on how they can respond to flooding in seven community districts. This solution is scalable, innovative and a sustainable approach to addressing community needs.
Finally, the last group of beneficiaries will use their grants to address issues related to disaster preparedness, health and youth. In this category, the selected grantees are as follows.
The Baphalali Eswatini Red Cross Society will improve data management processes for effective decision-making during emergencies in Eswatini by 2025. The main idea is to integrate and mainstream a mobile phone app dashboard into the existing National Society information management system and increase community participation (affected communities) in information sharing and management.
Thailand is prone to natural hazards, which often cause devastating damage and loss of lives. Therefore, the Thai Red Cross Society aims to improve disaster readiness, mainly for earthquakes, by training children and young people using virtual reality simulation.
The Sudanese Red Crescent will use the funds to support flood-affected women, providing them with cash, grants and livelihood tools to allow them to start their own business. The aim is to build resilience and longer-term recovery contexts for current and future crises by empowering the most vulnerable in a self-sustaining way.
The Red Cross Society of Guinea will focus on developing a mobile health app to comprehensively improve the quality of basic emergency obstetric and neonatal care, especially for complex deliveries, with a view to reducing maternal and newborn mortality.
According to figures on human trafficking, Albania is a primary source country and the non-EU European country with the second highest number of victims. To address this threat, the Albanian Red Cross will use the grant to train staff and volunteers, with a view to activating peer-to-peer prevention in high schools. The National Society will reach out to other sister National Societies to build a strong network of certified trainers who will raise awareness through peer-to-peer activities.
The Fiji Red Cross Society aims to overhaul its current volunteer programme, using the grant to implement end-to-end digitization to enhance the onboarding experience and increase the quality and cost-effectiveness of volunteer management. The idea is to also include community-level training that will generate meaningful learning and be easily replicable elsewhere.
At present, the Syrian Arab Red Crescent has more than 18,000 staff and volunteers across its local branches who support it in carrying out its humanitarian mission. With a view to scaling up branch development by complementing other initiatives, the National Society will use the grant to digitize its policies for online courses that can be freely accessed at any time, making training more convenient for its network of staff and volunteers.
ESF and learning
The Fund constantly strives to generate insights from the projects implemented for the benefit of the whole Movement and to diversify its learning materials. Later this year, the Fund will join with the stakeholders of the other NSD funding mechanisms, namely the Capacity Building Fund (CBF) and the National Society Investment Alliance (NSIA),for a learning event, with the aim of sharing lessons learned and experiences from grantees across the different funds.
It is important to recognize the diversity of National Societies within the network and the wide range of NSD support that is needed. The ESF and the other funding mechanisms (which focus more on NSD) operate in a complementary way, and togethertheyhave the capacity to meet this array of NSD and learning needs and support a broader transformation in our network.
IFRC Secretary General on the year ahead: "Hope in the midst of hopelessness"
It’s easy to feel a sense of hopelessness these days – climate crises, people on the verge of starvation in parts of Africa, multiple wars, protracted conflicts, people having to leave their homes out of desperation, shameful cases of exclusion in many parts of the world, rising mental health crises, people not having basic access to water and sanitation. This list can go on and on.
While these crises are affecting everyone, the marginalized, excluded, and last mile communities are bearing the brunt of these crises disproportionately.
Some 43 years ago, I signed up to be a young volunteer of the Nepal Red Cross. I joined not knowing how my life would unfold and where this would lead. I didn’t fully understand then, but I do now – the mission and mandate of our IFRC network, and the fundamental principles that guide our work with a very simple vision--to make a positive difference in people’s lives.
Three years ago, we didn’t know the scale of impact of a global pandemic, international armed conflict in the middle of Europe and all other global crises we have been responding to.
In this context, let me share some of my reflections on the current state of play.
Reflection on the IFRC’s mandate and relevance
As the world grapples with “polycrisis”, our mandate becomes as relevant as ever, if not more.
The IFRC is at the forefront of humanitarian efforts in times of disaster, crises, and other emergencies. By providing immediate assistance and long-term sustainable development programmes, the IFRC network puts people at the centre of vital, life-saving assistance.
We work to strengthen the resilience of communities in vulnerable settings, ensuring they are better prepared for and better able to cope with our changing world. In a time of great global disparities in terms of access to services, we bridge the gap.
The role of truly local organizations like our member National Societies is critical to reach the most disadvantaged sections of societies. Localization is fundamental as crises grow; but resources do not keep pace with them. Business as usual is not going to work. True empowerment of community organizations and decolonization of aid will be critical in 2023 and beyond.
Reflection on our fundamental principles, particularly the principle of neutrality
The threat to our principles, particularly the principle of neutrality, lies in the fact that the international armed conflict in Ukraine has taken on a much-heightened political dimension. This has placed great pressure on the Red Cross Red Crescent Movement.
We must maintain a neutral stance and perform impartial aid operations, to ensure our principle of neutrality is observed. While we remain sensitive to the challenges emerging out of the conflict and we will be doing everything in our capacity to deliver on our mandate, it is essential that our fundamental principles remain the bedrock of our actions. Failing to do so will irreparably damage the notion of neutral, independent humanitarian action.
Amid rapid changes in the global humanitarian landscape, one thing remains constant – that’s our fundamental principles. Our values and principles transcend all the divisions that exist in the world.
Reflection on current trends
We closely monitor the global trends that impact our work. Climate and Environmental crises have been at the forefront. Social issues like the erosion of trust, migration and displacement, inequality, global health and food crises are directly linked to our mandate. Economic issues like the cost-of-living crisis and energy crises will impact our work. Technological issues, like the opportunity created by digitalization as well as the risks arising from the digital divide and those linked to humanitarian data security, will have to be considered. We must also be mindful of the global political landscape and current lack of global political leadership able to deal with multiple crises.
The international armed conflict in Ukraine will significantly impact the geopolitical landscape and will exacerbate the humanitarian situation across the globe. We must be humble enough to acknowledge that there is no humanitarian solution to most of these crises. There must be a political solution and we must support and advocate for the same.
Reflection on our ambitions
Our ambitions are simple as we deal with these trends.
We will continue to be bold in our support to our membership both on humanitarian action and in building resilience.
We will work harder to build a trustful relationship with our membership and governance structure.
We will invest more in National Society transformations leveraging the power of youth and volunteers. Advancing gender and inclusion will require consistent push.
We must do more to be a learning organization that continuously evolves. Within the family, we will continue to build mutually respectful movement cooperation.
We will expand our humanitarian diplomacy efforts and further strengthen our highly professional partnership with all partners. Further building on the new operating model and new resourcing architecture, we will develop more inclusive IFRC wide approaches.
We will accelerate our digitalization journey.
We will continue to strengthen agility and accountability. Respectful workplace, issues of fraud and corruption, sexual exploitation, abuse and harassment, racism, and discrimination will be dealt with proactively and decisively.
The world is full of daunting challenges. But it is also full of people and organizations committed to confront them and work together to bring about positive change. We are one of those organizations.
We will lead from the front, working with our membership and their volunteers. We will be bold in our actions, but calm and composed in our approaches.
There will of course be challenges along the way, but we will always move forward with integrity. We will have to be at our best when the challenges are the greatest. And we will have to always bring hope amid hopelessness.
| Press release
Red Cross Red Crescent humanitarian leaders agree on a road map to alleviate the suffering in MENA
Cairo, 1 March 2022 -The first ever Middle East and North Africa Humanitarian Leadership Conference will conclude today with a set of recommendations to address the increasing humanitarian challenges in the region. The conference, held under the patronage of the Prime Minister of Egypt, brought together humanitarian actors to address key humanitarian concerns in the region, home to some of the worst protracted crises in the world.
The two-day conference, organized by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and the Egyptian Red Crescent Society (ERCS), discussed how to enhance collaboration to alleviate human suffering and support those affected by climate change and related disasters, conflicts and health emergencies.Participants included representatives from the Egyptian Government, the World Health Organization, World Bank, International Committee of the Red Cross as well as Red Cross and Red Crescent national societies.
Dr. Nivine Al Qabbage Minister of Social Solidarity, Vice president of Egyptian Red Crescent Society said:
“We, as Red Cross and Red Crescent national societies, are the first responders to humanitarian crises in our respective countries. We meet here today with other humanitarian actors to ensure that international humanitarian coordination mechanisms are aligned and relevant as well as to develop innovative partnerships that mobilize resources to continue supporting our communities.”
The countries in the Middle East and North Africa continue to suffer from decades of extreme climate conditions, including severe heat, limited groundwater and rainfall and scarcity of agricultural and arable land, which make them particularly vulnerable to climate change impacts.
An estimated 70 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance in the region. Young people in particular continue to pay the price of protracted crises and disasters. The region has the highest youth unemployment rates in the world and the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the situation, leading to an average of up to 40 per cent of young women being without a job.
Dr. Hossam Elsharkawi, IFRC Regional Director said:
“Even after two years, the COVID-19 pandemic continues to amplify the inequalities in the region. It is imperative that all humanitarian actors come together to better assist those most vulnerable, who too often fall between the cracks. This can only happen when we shift the leadership to truly locally led humanitarian efforts while committing to respectful partnerships focused on local priorities.”
At the end of the conference, the participants will agree on a call to action that will shape their joint humanitarian response operations during health emergencies, climate related disasters, migration and partnerships.
Participants agreed on:
Working hand in hand with nature, use nature-based solutions to enhance and/or build resilience.
Engage in the development of National Adaptation Plans since Red Cross and Red Crescent National Societies are auxiliaries to their governments and can lead the climate action from the local level.
Empower youth as agents of change in changing leaders’ mindset and advocating for change and addressing the climate and environmental crises.
Proactively work to formalize and implement cross-sectoral and multi-agency partnerships that include key governmental bodies/authorities to scale up humanitarian preparedness and response focused on vulnerable communities, people on the move, protracted crises, epidemics/pandemics, and natural disasters.
Support IFRC in leading the Localization work stream, supervising the implementation of efforts aiming to make humanitarian action “as local as possible and as international as necessary”.
Continue embarking on IFRC’s strategic approach to National Society Development that aspires to strengthen National societies and their branches when it comes to quality leadership, transparent financial management, relationship with authorities and community engagement and participation.
Conduct Humanitarian diplomacy efforts to better recognize the added value of Red Cross/ Crescent National Societies through our auxiliary role to public authorities and grassroots access through volunteers.
For more information or to organize interviews:
Silvia Simon, Egyptian Red Crescent Society, [email protected], 00201227404477
Rana Cassou, IFRC MENA, [email protected], 0033675945515
| Press release
"Never before has the need for a localized approach to crises been so evident"
Geneva, 27 December 2021 - “As we end this year, and on this International Day of Epidemic Preparedness, I would like to pay tribute to the brave and invaluable contributions of frontline responders. For the past two years, they have helped to detect and slow the spread of COVID-19, to treat and support those most affected, and dispel myths and rumours about the virus, vaccines and the wider response. They continue to support our communities worldwide. While some literally gave their lives to keep others safe, governments struggled, and are still struggling, to pull together a global coordinated and inclusive response.
“Never before has the need for a localized approach to crises been so evident, but it cannot fall on the shoulders of local responders alone. The international community can, and must, do better by them. Unique opportunities to put communities at the centre of the response are laid before us in 2022, from the upcoming White House COVID summit and the launch of Global Vax to the reconvening of Member States to agree on an international instrument to strengthen preparedness and response to pandemics. We urge decision-makers to strengthen recognition of, and support to, community engagement and feedback mechanisms, community health systems and community surveillance and preparedness programs.
“Public health emergencies are our past, our present, and we will face them again. 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 continue to support communities and respond to their needs.”
For more information
In Geneva: Ann Vaessen, +41 79 405 7750, [email protected]
Learn more about our work in epidemic and pandemic preparedness.
Local humanitarian actors are the first to respond when disasters strikeand often have access to areas that international actors do not. Their presence within communities before, during, and after crises means they are generally best placedto linkimmediate response efforts to longer term resilience-building, preparedness and recovery.
How a local response can halt this global crisis
Geneva, 4 March 2020 -Borders are closed. International travel is restricted or forbidden. And the clock is ticking to contain the spread of the coronavirus. How are we to touch – and save – the lives of people most affected when we in the humanitarian sector face countless barriers in no-touch zones?
In living memory, there has not been such a truly global crisis.
Humanitarian organisations are rushing to support the most vulnerable people: the elderly, communities in overcrowded urban slums, people living in fragile states and poverty, marginalised groups, and people on the move.
Our traditional methods of support have had to be either reinventedor tossed out the window altogether.
Despite these changes, we’re relying on our strongest advantages as the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC). We know the key to stopping this crisis lies in a fully localised response.
This means adapting our model of global solidarity, where resources, equipment, and personnel have been quickly moved into position to support a Red Cross or Red Crescent Society that is responding to a major disaster or crisis.
We have been striving for a model that is “as local as possible and as global as necessary” in line with our localisation commitments made at the World Humanitarian Summit in 2016. And the value of strong local and national humanitarian response – backed by global resources where they are needed – has never been more evident than it is today.
Fortunately, the IFRC didn’t have to start from scratch: the Red Cross and Red Crescent has always been a collection of hyper-local units and branches.
This community presence means that our experts in health and care, disaster response and risk reduction, and humanitarian logistics were already on the ground when the pandemic took hold months ago. Our network of humanitarian workers in 192 countries will stand alongside their communities for as long as the pandemic continues, and they will still be there long after the crisis has passed.
This is how we’ve always worked: at community level. The IFRC was founded in 1919, just one year after the deadly influenza pandemic that killed an estimated 50 million people and infected at least 500 million worldwide. The Red Cross Societies of France, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States created our federation so that the medical expertise gained during the 1918 pandemic, and the World War that had preceded it, could be shared across the world.
For now, our priority lies in health and care services. This includes pre-hospital and medical services, community health and care, risk communication, and community engagement.
We are also providing the mental health and psychosocial support that will continue to be desperately needed as individuals and communities come to terms with the threat to the people they love, and the frightening changes to the world they have always known.
While responding to immediate needs, we cannot lose sight of the ongoing challenges that COVID-19 will cause in communities large and small across the world.
People are losing their jobs, incomes are vanishing overnight, and people are scared – not only for their health, but for their ability to care for and provide for their families. In many urban slums, there is growing fear that the restrictions placed on people’s lives during lockdown, together with loss of income and associated fears of not being able to afford food and rent, could lead to mental health crises or even civil unrest in some settings.
Further, natural disasters, climate-related extreme weather events and other health crises – such as malaria, tuberculosis, measles, and cholera – will not stop while the COVID-19 pandemic has the world’s full attention. Our everyday work to reduce the risks of these events, and to help prepare for and recover from them, must continue.
Disease outbreaks begin and end inside local communities. Today, 14 million Red Cross and Red Crescent volunteers and 165,000 local branches across the world are already supporting theirs. Every volunteer plays an important role connecting directly with their communities. This ongoing commitment will be key to slowing – and eventually halting – this pandemic.
To help make all of this possible, the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement – IFRC, the ICRC, and the National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies – have appealed for funding for community-level healthcare, critical health supplies, the mobilisation of local volunteers, emergency cash grants for families, and the mitigation of the pandemic’s social and economic impacts.
Individually and collectively, our volunteers represent hope. Let’s work to ensure that they have the global support they need to work safely and effectively at the local level, where lives will be saved and communities will be protected.
This crisis has already made history. Our actions now will shape the future.
By Jagan Chapagain, IFRC Secretary General
View the opinion piece in the New Humanitarian
| Press release
Global youth gathering of thousands to celebrate 100 years of world’s largest humanitarian network
Geneva/Rome, 6 June 2019 – More than 10,000 young Red Cross and Red Crescent leaders and volunteers from 140 countries will gather in northern Italy from 17-23 June to celebrate the centenary of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).
The weeklong “4th International Solferino Youth Meeting” will include a series of workshops for hundreds of young Red Cross and Red Crescent leaders, focusing on major humanitarian challenges such as climate change, as well as some of the world’s most pressing and protracted crises. They will also contribute to the development of IFRC’s new Strategy 2030 that will guide the organization’s work for the coming decade.
The week will culminate on 22 June with the annual Fiaccolata – a candle-lit march involving thousands of volunteers between Solferino and Castiglione delle Stiviere. Solferino is the town where in 1859, Swiss businessman, Henry Dunant, witnessed a bloody battle between French and Sardinian armies. Dunant organized local people to treat the soldiers' wounds and to feed and comfort them. These actions led to the creation of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement.
The International Youth Meeting offers numerous, compelling media opportunities, including the chance to speak with and profile young volunteers from around the world. These passionate humanitarians are committed to solving the problems they see. They are a powerful antidote to the sometimes-cynical representation given to millennials around the world.
Below are some suggestions of how journalists and media outlets can capitalize on the event. Italian Red Cross and IFRC communications staff will be available in the lead up to and during the event to support.
The event is highly visual, involving thousands of young people from around the world living in a Red Cross humanitarian base camp. The Fiaccolata march sets off from the medieval centre of Solferino at sunset, with participants carrying candles as they wind their way towards Castiglione delle Stiviere.
Interviews/profiles of youth representatives from your country
More than 10,000 volunteers, including more than 400 young Red Cross and Red Crescent leaders representing 140 countries are attending the event. These young and passionate leaders will be taking part in a series of events during their time in Solferino focused on identifying solutions to the world’s most pressing humanitarian problems both now and in the future.
Interviews/profiles/discussions with young people on the front lines of today’s major humanitarian crises
Among the participants are Red Cross and Red Crescent volunteers responding to some of the world’s most pressing humanitarian emergencies. These are young women and men who choose to dedicate their time and even risk their lives to help people affected by conflicts and violence, stigma and discrimination, and disasters and health emergencies.
The “Fiaccolata” (Saturday 22 June) - a highly visual and emotional march
More than 10,000 volunteers will follow the path of Henry Dunant, walking from Solferino to Castiglione delle Stiviere. Setting off at sunset, this candlelit march is highly visual.
Senior Red Cross and Red Crescent officials
In addition to youth representatives, a number of senior Red Cross and Red Crescent officials will participate. The IFRC President, Francesco Rocca, will be present during the Solferino events, together with more than 60 Red Cross Red Crescent leaders.
Journalists are invited to attend the event on 21-22 June. Requests to attend on other dates will be considered.
Some logistical support is available for journalists interested in attending the event. Please contact the media contacts below.
A media centre is available on site with dedicated internet.
Photos and video will be made available to media throughout the event via IFRC’s multimedia newsroom: www.ifrcnewsroom.org.
| Press release
Major humanitarian conference to explore regional crises, migration
Buenos Aires/Panama/Geneva, 17 May 2018 – Red Cross leaders from across the Americas and around the world are gathering in Buenos Aires from 21-23 May for the 21st Inter-American Conference of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).The conference will involve leaders and representatives from the 35 Red Cross societies of the Americas, as well as global IFRC figures. Participants will explore a range of issues, including: the rising needs of vulnerable migrants across the region, the increasing impacts of climate change, the Red Cross response to humanitarian crises, the centenary of the founding of IFRC – the world’s largest humanitarian network.Media opportunitiesRed Cross spokespeople are available to speak on all topics related to the conference, as well as on issues of humanitarian concern. Spokespeople include: Francesco Rocca, President of IFRC (Languages: Spanish/English/Italian Diego Tipping: President of the Argentine Red Cross (Languages: Spanish). Miguel Villaroel: IFRC Vice-president for the Americas (Languages: English/Spanish).Other Red Cross experts and leaders are also available on request.
Volunteers on a Data Literacy journey
Volunteers are the heart of the Red Cross Red Crescent movement. Many volunteers are leaders in data skills while others are on a learning journey. One of our main goals this year is to support data literacy activities with National Societies by localizing data skills training, especially focused on volunteer engagement. Together with the IFRC Americas office, the we organized the first Data Literacy Workshop for volunteers of the Panamanian Red Cross. This workshop had the objective of improving the data skills of volunteers for more efficient use of information within the various programs they develop; as part of their community work in their National Societies and local branches. "This is the first time that I have had the opportunity to be with all the colleagues in the region who manage data. There is a lot of valuable knowledge being transmitted to us, " Manuel Diaz, National Volunteers Coordinator, Panama Red Cross.We tailored the workshop to focus on various 'data-driven' sectors. The program activities are designed to provide practical examples in a fun and interactive way. Facilitators were from across the region from the different units who deal with data across the organization: (PMER, CASH, IM, FDRS, Innovation) which allow for a lot of interaction and networking. The draft curriculum used included such favourite exercises like 'describe a piece of fruit as data'.Introduction to Data Literacy What is Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation (PMER) Data Collection tool basicsInformation Management in the MovementInformation Management in Cash Transfer ProgramsData Security and Data ProtectionIntroduction to the Federation-wide Databank Reporting System (FDRS) We used a mix of exercises from the Data Playbook, which helped them to reinforce the acquired knowledge in a fun and practical manner. You are welcome to review the presentations delivered at this workshop in the following link. (Spanish)Some observations from Margarita, curator of the Data for Volunteers project: There is a big need to keep doing this type of activity with volunteers. IFRC is going too fast with data. People are overwhelmed by tools and need the data basics to guide on clear picture. This event gave participants the fundamental tool overview. The users can then make decisions on the applicable tools. Volunteers need the introduction to data – what are the attributes? why it matters? Volunteers collaborate across programs with data workflows. the skills are transferable across IM, Cash, PMER etc. IFRC is doing data analysis and data viz trainings. It is important to put the whole data pipeline together and meet people where they are. For more information contact: data.literacy AT ifrc DOT org.[Photo Credits: Margarita Griffith. CCBY]
| Press release
IFRC President praises Palestine Red Crescent volunteers and calls for more support
Ramallah, 14 Dec 2018: For the past 50 years, volunteers at Palestine Red Crescent Society (PRCS) have been providing humanitarian services not only in the occupied Palestinian territory but also to the Palestinian diaspora in Lebanon, Iraq, Syria and Egypt. To mark the anniversary, PRCS organized an event in Ramallah attended by volunteers, International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement representatives, NGOs and several humanitarian organizations.
Dr. Younis A-Khatib, President of Palestine Red Crescent Society, said: “On our 50th anniversary, I congratulate our volunteers and staff for their dedication and passion, without which, we wouldn’t have been able to provide humanitarian services in an extremely difficult working environment.
“I would like to express our gratitude for the remarkable support we have been receiving from our sister organizations, the National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, and look forward to fostering additional strategic partnerships to further strengthen the capacity of our volunteers and staff.”
Mr Francesco Rocca, President of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and IFRC Regional Director Sayed Hashem attended the event.
Mr Rocca said: “We are in Palestine to express our solidarity and admiration of the hard work that volunteers and staff have been doing under difficult circumstances for the past 50 years. Humanitarian needs here are already serious and I fear they may worsen in 2019. At least 1.9 million Palestinians could be at risk of conflict and violence, forcible displacement and denial of access to livelihoods. We call on the international community for greater support to PRCS: local actors are always best placed to serve their own communities.
“While we celebrate 50 years of achievements, we remember all volunteers who lost their lives in line of duty and we remind all parties to the conflict that Red Crescent volunteers, staff and emergency medical technicians are neutral and should be protected and enabled to do their humanitarian duty at all times.”
Palestine Red Crescent Society emergency services are ready to respond at a moment’s notice across the occupied Palestinian territory. In addition, PRCS provides disaster management services when needed and deploys mobile emergency teams and field hospitals to isolated and affected towns and villages where teams provide health care and relief items to communities in need.
| Press release
European humanitarian summit closes with commitments on migration, increasing diversity among volunteers
Almaty, Kazakhstan, 4 May 2018 – Red Cross and Red Crescent leaders have reaffirmed their support for all migrants regardless of status and have flagged improved trans-national cooperation to ensure more consistent care and protection for people on the move.This announcement came at the end of the 10th European Regional Conference of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, which was held for the first time in Almaty, Kazakhstan.“Migrants are vulnerable whatever the reason they embark on their journey towards a better life, and it is our duty to support them,” said Francesco Rocca, President of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC). “What we have seen here in Almaty is a renewed commitment from all 53 European National Societies to stand with migrants, to stand against intolerance, and to stand for improved cooperation and increased impact.”The conference adopted the “Almaty Commitments” which set out Red Cross and Red Crescent priorities for the coming four years. In addition to migration, the declaration carries clear pledges on improving engagement with volunteers and young people, and on strengthening cooperation and coordination.Dr Kerem Kinik, IFRC Vice President for Europe, said: “Our commitments will see us expand our support to local communities, ensuring we work in an affective and inclusive way - that is key to us making sure we are effective and relevant.“There is suffering here, in Europe, and much of it is unmet. We need to expand our volunteer base, drawing from more diverse groups, including from marginalized communities. And we need to invest more in improving their skills, so they can reach people in need,” said Dr Kinik.