| 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.