The IFRC was created to bring kindness – and kindness is needed more than ever
“The world is bleeding, and it needs help now”.
Stark words of warning from a humanitarian leader shaken by a brutal war and living under the shadow of a global pandemic.
I did not pen these words. They were written in 1919, by Henry Davison, the leader of the American Red Cross.
His big idea was that the world’s Red Cross societies – which were set up after the movement was created by Nobel Laureate Henry Dunant in 1863 – should come together as a force for good at all times, and not only during wars. Davison firmly believed the kindness and expertise shown by Red Cross volunteers should benefit humanity in other times as well.
And thus, the League of Red Cross Societies was born, on the 5th of May 1919. There were five founding Red Cross Societies – those of the United States of America, Italy, Japan, France, and the United Kingdom. By the end of that year, the League had 30 members.
The League changed its name to the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies – the IFRC – in 1991. We now have 192 member National Societies, with more in formation.
The core of the idea has stayed the same while the scope of the IFRC network has grown massively, in reach and in impact.
In 2020, 14.9 million Red Cross and Red Crescent volunteers reached more than 688 million people with disaster and other emergency response work; some 306 million with health activities, and 125 million with clean water and sanitation assistance.
These are impressive figures, but the scale of the humanitarian needs continues to grow every year. Right now, countless people across the world need urgent support.
The conflict in Ukraine and the stress placed on its neighbouring countries is just one example. The lingering physical, social and economic damages inflicted by the global COVID-19 pandemic is another. Alongside these disasters is the ever-present, and worsening, threat of climate change.
With challenges like these, can a simple idea – like the one that led in 1919 to what is now known as the IFRC – still help to heal the world? I believe it can – and will. We know what works, and we’ve been proving it for more than a century.
It’s one human being reaching out to support another human being in crisis, at the community level, where it is always needed the most.
It’s ensuring that local volunteers and local organizations have the resources, training and as much (or as little) international support as they need to respond to disasters and crises. It’s making sure their voices are heard, and their interests represented, on the international stage.
And it is working to bring that support to the most marginalized communities and individuals, no matter where they are, and without any discrimination as to who they are.
It is – put simply – kindness.
I first joined my National Society, the Nepal Red Cross, as a volunteer more than three decades ago. I was trusted – and therefore able to meet and support the people in greatest need – because I was part of their community, I spoke their language, and I understood their concerns. And the key to understanding what people needed was kindness.
Over the years, the IFRC has evolved alongside the communities we support. We have adapted our ways of working, expanded our expertise as different vulnerabilities and stressors emerge, and have been agile enough to pioneer and then mainstream new approaches to humanitarian support.
We have led on the development and widespread acceptance of cash assistance as the most effective and most respectful way to support people in need. After all, people who have lost everything in a disaster or conflict should not have to lose their dignity as well.
And we are driving change in how disaster risks are managed and reduced through anticipatory action, where local communities are supported to reduce their risks, and immediate funding can be triggered once scientifically-measured thresholds are reached.
None of this work would be possible without the kindness of our 14.9 million Red Cross and Red Crescent community-based volunteers.
On World Red Cross and Red Crescent Day, 8th May, we will encourage people around the world to believe in the power of kindness and #BeHumanKIND.
The world is still bleeding. It still needs help. But there are nearly 15 million reasons to believe in kindness, and to have hope.
If you'd like to read more about the history of the IFRC, visit our history and archives page.
And check out the hashtag #BeHumanKIND across all social media channels this week to see how our National Societies are celebrating World Red Cross and Red Crescent Day.
Empress Shôken Fund announces grants for 2022
The Empress Shôken Fund is named after Her Majesty The Empress of Japan, who proposed – at the 9th International Conference of the Red Cross – the creation of an international fund to promote relief work in peacetime.
It is administered by the Joint Commission of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and the International Committee of the Red Cross, which maintains close contact with the Japanese Permanent Mission in Geneva, the Japanese Red Cross Society and the Meiji Jingu Research Institute in Japan.
The Fund has a total value of over 17 million Swiss francs and supports projects run by National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies to benefit their communities in various ways.
The first grant was awarded in 1921, to help five European National Societies fight the spread of tuberculosis. Since then, over 14 million Swiss francs have been allocated to 170 National Societies.
The Fund continues to encourage new and innovative approaches with the potential to generate insight that will benefit the Movement as a whole. An innovation campaign was launched in December 2021 to further increase awareness of the Fund and what it stands for.
The campaign resulted in 52 proposals being submitted versus only 28 in 2021, and more innovative proposals compared to previous years, further strengthening the Fund’s positioning as supporting innovation.
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 shown by the regularity of their contributions to it.
The grants are announced every year on 11 April, the anniversary of the death of Her Majesty Empress Shôken.
The selection process
The Fund received 52 applications in 2022, covering a diverse range of humanitarian projects run by National Societies in every region of the world. This year the Joint Commission agreed to allocate a total of 471,712 Swiss francs to 16 projects in Burkina Faso, Côte d'Ivoire, Croatia, Dominica, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Jordan, Libya, Mongolia, Niger, Portugal, Serbia, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Tanzania and Yemen.
The projects to be supported in 2022 cover a number of themes, including first aid and rescue, support for young people, disaster preparedness, health, social welfare and National Society development. The Fund continues to encourage new and innovative approaches with the potential to generate new insight and learning that will benefit the Movement as a whole. Reports from the National Societies whose projects were funded and implemented in 2020 generated insights in the areas listed below.
Top 10 key learnings from project implemented in 2020
Adaptability and agility
Taking a pilot approach
The 2022 grants
The Burkinabe Red Cross Society plans to strengthen psychosocial care and the capacities of community volunteers and first-aiders in communities affected by the crisis. The grant will allow the National Society to assist victims of attacks by armed groups in areas where security is a challenge.
In 2017, over 43.8% of Ivorians were illiterate, and the disparities between men and women and by places of residence were enormous. The Red Cross Society of Côte d’Ivoire will use the grant to help improve the education and increase the autonomy of young women in the Bounkani Region who have not attended school.
The Croatian Red Cross will use the grant funds to spread awareness of the humanitarian ideals and educate children from an early age, through the Humanity Corner.
The Dominica Red Cross Society will provide support for and help introduce farming techniques and other solutions for managing climate change and other risks. The funds will be used to train 15 farmers as Agri First Responders in their community.
The Dominican Red Cross will help build young people’s capacity to carry out local social support activities. The grant will be used to develop a virtual introductory course on planning and coordinating social support activities that is adapted to the young people’s local reality, so that they are equipped with the techniques and tools to address the needs of their community.
The Ecuadorean Red Cross aims to identify and provide primary care for the negative feelings and emotions in young people from age 15 to 30 years in the city of Quito. The grant funds will provide immersion technologies to addresses the heightened need in the community owing to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Jordan National Red Crescent Society has recognized young people and volunteers as the beating heart of the National Society, especially during the response to the COVID-19 pandemic, during which they served local communities across the country, when mobility was restricted. This grant will help them improve the management system for recruiting, developing, promoting and retaining volunteers to support humanitarian operations.
Libya is one of the countries most vulnerable to climate change, given its arid climate. This grant will help the Libyan Red Crescent raise awareness of the risks associated with climate change and highlight personal behaviours that could help mitigate these risks for communities.
The Mongolian Red Cross Society wants to use digital communication tools funded by the grant in order to help ensure there is meaningful community participation across all programmes and operations, improve its public relations management and strengthen its transparency and accountability to communities.
In the event of an accident, smartphones can provide information that is essential for providing effective first aid. Thanks to the grant, the Red Cross Society of Niger will educate and inform the public about how to store useful information in the “emergency call” section of their phones.
The Portuguese Red Cross will address young people's social exclusion and the lack of space and opportunities to develop relevant skills and digital literacy, through the Platforms of Change, funded by the grant.
Through the “Their life is in your hands” digital marketing campaign, funded by the grant, the Red Cross of Serbia will raise the general public’s awareness of the value of CPR skills and AED use and provide the related training.
The Republic of Korea National Red Cross will focus on supporting disaster risk reduction in many countries in the Asia Pacific Region. The grant will fund development of virtual reality training content by the Asia Pacific Disaster Resilience Centre, provide sets of virtual reality devices to seven National Societies and provide virtual reality training on disaster risk reduction.
The Sri Lanka Red Cross Society is aiming for better nutrition and improved water, sanitation and hygiene in vulnerable communities that are drought-prone. The grant will introduce groundwater recharging practices into the catchment and tank ecosystem areas, to facilitate groundwater retention.
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, communities face challenges in gaining access to reliable, up-to-date information and in overcoming the rumours, myths and misconceptions around the vaccine. Supported by the grant, the Tanzania Red Cross Society will develop a mobile application, “UJANJA KUCHANJA”, to enhance information-sharing, build trust and increase information access and reach.
In a mountainous district of Yemen, frequent rockslides often injure people and domestic animals, disrupt transport networks and cut people off from their livelihood activities. Thanks to the grant, the Yemen Red Crescent Society will take measures to prevent rockslides and help reduce the number of victims and the damage caused.
World Red Cross and Red Crescent Day
8 May is World Red Cross and Red Crescent Day—a global day to celebrate the uniqueness and unity of our International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement.
| 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
IFRC is extremely concerned about the worsening humanitarian situation in Palestine
West Bank / Gaza / Geneva 12 November 2021 – The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is extremely concerned about the worsening humanitarian situation in Palestine. Palestinians are facing a multitude of crises, including persistent escalations of violence, a socio-economic breakdown and the COVID-19 pandemic in the context of a protracted conflict and occupation.
Critical infrastructure, including the power and water supply, is eroding in many areas. Millions of people are unable to cover their most basic needs because of serious shortages of food, water, fuel, and medicines, among other essential supplies, especially in Gaza, as a result of the continued blockade. According to OCHA, more than 2.4 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance.
Speaking at the end of his visit to the Gaza strip and the West Bank, IFRC President Francesco Rocca said:
“I am deeply concerned about the humanitarian situation in Palestine: too many overlapping crises are pushing local communities to their limits. I am always impressed by the critical work done by the Palestine Red Crescent teams: from the emergency medical services to social and inclusion activities, they are a key humanitarian actor. I was particularly inspired by the visit to their centres for children with disabilities both in Gaza Strip and West Bank. These centres embody the real meaning of humanity: without PRCS these children would be left behind. The world has a moral duty to strengthen humanitarian support in Palestine and invest in local actors like the Palestine Red Crescent.”
Palestine Red Crescent Society (PRCS) continues to be the leading provider of emergency medical services in Palestine, operating five hospitals and providing ambulance and first aid services. For decades, the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement has supported the Palestine Red Crescent Society to respond to the immense needs of the most vulnerable people.
During the visit, President Rocca signed the IFRC legal status agreement with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Palestine: a standard procedure when the IFRC establishes an office with international staff to strengthen the operations of a national Red Cross or Red Crescent Society.
IFRC President Rocca said:
“Signing of the status agreement is verification for our long-term commitment to support PRCS and the people in Palestine. As per our humanitarian principles, we continue providing humanitarian relief to the people based on their vulnerabilities and needs, without discrimination as to nationality, race, religious beliefs, class or political opinions.”
Dr. Younis al-Khatib, PRCS President, said:
“The signing of the legal status agreement is a manifestation of the long-standing support and solidarity of IFRC with PRCS. The staff and volunteers of PRCS are always happy to meet with President Rocca and be inspired by his unwavering support and praise for the volunteers of our Movement.”
IFRC is committed to supporting the PRCS in its humanitarian mandate to deal with the acute and protracted consequences of occupation, violence, disasters, and crises.
IFRC together with the other Red Cross and Red Crescent partners continue to enhance the preparedness and response capacities of PRCS’ medical services, scale up their COVID-19 response activities, provide medical items, medicines and personal protective equipment, and replace old and out-of-service ambulances.
To request an interview or for more information, please contact:
In Geneva: Tommaso Della Longa, IFRC, +41 79 708 43 67, [email protected]
In Beirut: Jani Savolainen, IFRC, +961 70372812, [email protected]
In Ramallah: Mamoun Abbasi, PRCS, +970 595606096, [email protected]
Guidance for National Society Statutes
To deliver sustained, relevant and principled humanitarian action, National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies need a strong statutory or constitutional base fit for the 21st century.
Funds for National Society development
The IFRC provides financial support to National Society development through threedifferent funds, two of which are delivered in partnership with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). Together, the fundsprovide a wide range of development and technical support toNational Societies to helpthem become stronger, more sustainable and more effective.
Capacity Building Fund
The IFRC's Capacity Building Fund (CBF) is an agile, flexible and easy-to-access mechanism foraddressing acute and time-bound needs of National Societies. Support is gradually expandedbuilding on achieved developments.
Our extensive network of over 160,000 local branches ensures the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent (IFRC) remains firmly rooted within local communities.
National Society Development
The IFRC supports our 192 Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies around the world to fulfil their full potential as effective local humanitarian actors. We are committed to supporting their long-term development and programmes. And we tailor our support to each National Society's contexts, needs and priorities.
National Society Investment Alliance: Funding announcement 2021
The National Society Investment Alliance (NSIA) is pleased to share the National Societies to receive investment from the fund in 2021, with the Steering Committee approving Accelerator funding to:
The Armenian Red Cross Society
The Nigerian Red Cross Society
The Ugandan Red Cross Society
These three National Societies, all of which have previously received preparatory Bridge funding from the NSIA, will each receive significant follow-on investment to help build sustainable income generating activities related to the provision of commercial first-aid services and other related income generation initiatives.
In addition, Bridge funding will be awarded to the National Societies of Ethiopia, Malawi, Myanmar, Niger, Pakistan, and Yemen.
In total the NSIA will allocate funds of around CHF 2.1 million. This is the largest annual allocation made by the NSIA to date and is made possible by generous support from the governments of Switzerland, the United States, Canada and Norway.
The Co-chairs of the NSIA Steering Committee, Xavier Castellanos, Under-Secretary General for National Society Development and Operations Coordination at the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), and Katrin Wiegmann, Deputy Director-General of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), said:
“We are pleased to share the National Societies that have been selected for funding by the NSIA in 2021."
"It is particularly welcome to see that the three Accelerator investments selected this year have all gone to National Societies who have previously received Bridge funding from the NSIA."
"This underlines for us the importance of the NSIA’s two-stage approach, with initial funds providing a springboard to help National Societies prepare for increased investment aimed at achieving sustained impact on the organisation and vulnerable communities."
"In addition to the three Accelerator awards made this year, we look forward to seeing the progress of the newly selected Bridge recipients.”
The IFRC and the ICRC jointly manage the NSIA to provide substantial, multi-year development support to National Societies in contexts of heightened humanitarian need and risk. The NSIA helps strengthen the organisational capacities and development of humanitarian services of National Societies so they can increase their humanitarian impact and reach.
To respond to the varied development needs of National Societies, the NSIA can award up to one million Swiss francs of Accelerator funding to any one National Society over a five-year period. In addition, Bridge grants of up to 50,000 Swiss francs over 12 months can help National Societies prepare the ground for future investment from the NSIA or elsewhere.
For more information about the NSIA, visit this page.
About National Societies
The IFRC is made up of 192 Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, often referred to as National Societies,present in nearly every country of the world. Their roles differ country by country, but they are all united by our Fundamental Principlesand all strive for the good of humanity.
Egyptian Red Crescent shows localization at its core
“I am impressed and inspired how the Egyptian Red Crescent (ERC) has scaled up and modernized services to respond to many emergencies, including COVID19," says Dr. Hossam Elsharkaw, IFRC Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). "I was happy to meet ERC dedicated staff and volunteers working to preserve dignity. They are a strong and diverse teams of men and women working in the front lines. They are potentially a pool of expertise that can benefit the whole region and beyond."
IFRC Regional Director and Ms. Rania Ahmed, Deputy Regional Director visited the Egyptian Red Crescent in Cairo earlier this week to discussstrategic directions, the programmes, the challenges, and the cooperation with the Government and the communities.
The visit included strategic meetings with Dr. Nevine El Kabbaj, Minister of Social Solidarity and Dr. Rami Al Naser, the Director General.
Minister Nevine El Kabbaj, praised the collaboration with the Egyptian Red Crescent and the role the National Society has been playing in COVID-19 response. Including interventions in the areas of public awareness and behavioral change campaigns, health clinics, food distributions, mental health and psycho-social support. Dr. El Kabbaj encouraged investing in Mental Health and Psychosocial support and expanding the services to support other countries in Africa and beyond.
Dr. Elsharkawi reiterated the role of IFRC in support of ERC and other National Societies in the MENA region, including focused commitment to capacity strengthening, stronger partnership, coordination and resource mobilization.
One of the main highlights of the visit was the Red Crescent Community Center in the area of Zeinhom, one of the oldest neighborhoods in Cairo. The center ensures tackling the needs of the public from a holistic approach, providing, health, mental health, child protection, education and income generating opportunities and trainings for women, youth and education of children. “Hundreds of people benefit from Zeinhom center. Great example of how the Egyptian Red Crescent responds to the needs and emphasis the trust and acceptance among the communities. This is trusted access and localization at its core," Dr. Elsharkawi says.
The team visited as well the blood bank and witnessed the high quality and standards applied to ensure a safe national blood supply.
Dr. Elsharkawi visited ERC programs related to health, migration, livelihood and protection: “Red Crescent staff and volunteers efforts go way beyond the emergency response and disseminating the health messages. ERC is supporting communities, including migrants and refugees with socio-economic and income-generating activities.”
Egyptian Red Crescent is the largest national provider of humanitarian and relief services in Egypt.
The National Society Investment Alliance: Funding Announcement – 2020
The National Society Investment Alliance (NSIA) has today announced the National Societies to receive investment from the fund in 2020, with the Steering Committee approving Accelerator funding to: The Colombian Red Cross Society The Georgia Red Cross Society The Mexican Red Cross Society The Somali Red Crescent SocietyIn addition, Bridge funding will be awarded to the National Societies of Lesotho, South Sudan, and Syria for earlier-stage investment in their development. The total amount of funds allocated this round to NS reached CHF 1.6 million.The Co-chairs of the NSIA Steering Committee, Xavier Castellanos, Under-Secretary General for National Society Development and Operations Coordination at the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), and Katrin Wiegmann, Deputy Director-General of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), said:“We are pleased to announce this second group of National Societies to receive support from the NSIA. We have selected National Societies responding to ongoing crises in some of the world’s major humanitarian emergencies, such as Somalia and South Sudan, as well as Georgia Red Cross Society pursuing an entrepreneurial response to the unprecedented global pandemic that we continue to face.These investments build on those made in 2019, and we are already seeing how such funding can have a catalytic effect, such as in supporting the Lebanese Red Cross’ efforts to mobilize support in response to the double impacts of Covid-19 and the recent Beirut port explosionAs we begin to see the value of the NSIA on the ground, there continues to also be demand from National Societies thinking strategically about their development during unprecedented uncertainty. We call on our partners in the Movement and beyond to join us in expanding this important mechanism for supporting strong and principled local humanitarian action.”The IFRC and the ICRC jointly manage the NSIA to provide substantial, multi-year development support to National Societies, especially those in contexts with heightened humanitarian needs. The NSIA helps strengthen the organisational and operational development and capacity of National Societies so they can increase their impact.To respond to the varied development needs of National Societies, the NSIA can award up to one million Swiss francs of Accelerator funding to any one National Society over a five-year period. In addition, Bridge grants of up to 50,000 Swiss francs over 12 months can help National Societies prepare the ground for future investment from the NSIA or elsewhere.To date, NSIA has been supported by generous contributions from the governments of Switzerland, The United States, and Canada.Second Round of NSIA FundingThis second call for proposals received 49 applications from National Societies across all regions, with a range of contextual challenges and organizational development needs. The application process was adapted to take account of exposure to Covid-19 related risks and again involved an independent and objective process of consultation and review against the criteria, working with colleagues from the IFRC and the ICRC at the national and regional level, as well as National Societies themselves.The selected applicants will undergo further due diligence steps, which in the case of Accelerator investments will include the Federation’s Working With Project Partners approach, as well as the meeting of certain conditions linked to their specific applications, such as securing sufficient co-funding.Selected National SocietiesAccelerator FundingThe Colombian Red Cross Society will receive funding to build on the resource mobilsation work conducted under their ongoing Bridge Award, including individual giving and digital fundraising.The Georgia Red Cross Society will receive funds to support the commercial production of sanitizer products at the national level. This funding is conditional on securing loan-based co-finance.The Mexican Red Cross Society will receive funds to invest in systems for Planning, Monitoring, Evaluation and Reporting, as well as learning, as part of their wider NSD strategy.The Somali Red Crescent Society will receive funds for the redevelopment and commercialisation of their national HQ, as part of a wider NSD strategy, and contingent on co-funding.Bridge FundingThe Lesotho Red Cross will receive funds for the development of a Resource Mobilsation strategy and investment plan exploring national level income generating activitiesThe South Sudan Red Cross will receive funds for the initial investment in IT capacities at HQ and branch level, to support remote management, and focused on longer term branch development efforts.The Syrian Arab Red Crescent will receive funds to roll out a new approach to branch development.
Dr. Abbas Finds Physical Distancing a Real Challenge in Iraq to Fight COVID-19
Randa El Ozeir: The Iraqi Red Crescent Society (IRCS) has gathered its efforts to fight COVID-19, and launched “Your Doctor” program to guide, sensitize, and refer people to the relevant health services depending on their situation. In our conversation with the President of the IRCS, Dr. Yaseen Abbas, we talked about how Iraqis are dealing with the pandemic, which hasn’t changed much of their behavior and social culture although it caused them to lose their livelihood and revealed the depth of the economic and social crisis inflicting on the country. Dr. Abbas stressed the need to strengthen Disaster Risk Reduction and Management to protect the population and keep and attract the local and foreign investments.Why the situation in Iraq regarding COVID-19 hasn’t improved despite all the adopted measures? Any measure taken during a pandemic wouldn’t succeed if citizens do not cooperate or understand its importance. Since the beginning, it was obvious that the adopted measures focused on the health side without looking into the reality of livelihood. In the first phase, a curfew has been imposed in Iraq. And this simply meant livelihood interruption for citizens who earn their living from daily jobs. I don’t think citizens would respect such a curfew as it affects their livelihood and their families’ and would find breaking this ban as their only option.The second and more important point in my opinion is the physical distancing during social event. The social celebrations didn’t stop at all, namely “Majalid Al-Aza’a” (Mourning Gatherings). It is an occasion where come together the parents, relatives, friends, locals, and everyone who had known the deceased. They crowd in pavilions, mosques, and halls for three days as per the customs in Iraq. Social distancing was not practiced as well as the physical distancing in such occasions. Shaking hands, and even hugging, continued. Besides, visits during the curfew did not ease if not increased due to work suspension, and the chances upped for everyone to stay late and meet in the morning, at noon, and at night.Do you find that learning and education factor in helping with the awareness about the seriousness of COVID-19? And how do you deal with people who believe only in our written fate? Learning plays a crucial and direct role in the process of accepting and perceiving information. But nowadays, we notice a lot of confusion circulating through the social media. Unfortunately, part of the confusion is coming from highly educated people. There is been a talk lately, about the concept of “COVID-19 fatigue” as a widespread phenomenon among people, the youth in particular. Does this apply to Iraq or specific parts of it? Yes, it does apply to Iraq, and I suspect it to be a human nature regardless of the country. The latest measures in Iraq reflect this fatigue, which is noticed through the complete opening of institutions. All restaurants, coffee shops, and public shops are open in a manifestation of COVID-19 fatigue.Prior to COVID-19, Iraq was still struggling with social, economic, and political crisis. How the unfavourable impact of the virus reflected in the whole situation of the country? As a result of COVID-19, many jobs discontinued in Iraq. For instance, the hospitality and restaurant sector almost stopped altogether. It employed huge numbers of citizens and affected other related sectors, which was a direct reason for too many to lose their livings, especially those who bank on daily jobs with no protection or insurance.The other factor is the falling of oil prices, which directly affected many businesses linked to official spending, such as construction, business related to public firms, buying from the markets, and the salary of some public employees or the people who do daily work with the government. The government was in a tight spot to secure the permanent employees’ salaries, which led to harming some of those who earn a daily living.“Your Doctor” for Help and GuidanceAre there any particular initiatives you like to highlight or believe they played, or could play, a positive role in protecting the population? In the extensive awareness program the IRCS adopted since the end of last January, the Society launched “Your Doctor” project due to the many confusing opinions circulating about COVID-19. We gave the phone numbers of numerous doctors to guide, at certain hours, those who are suspected of being infected or who are actually infected. Our doctors receive a high volume of calls and refer the caller to the best way of consulting health institutions when his situation worsens and encourage him not to ignore the approved health guidelines in Iraq, as well as these of World Health Organization.We asked the government to adopt the concept of “Disaster Risk Reduction.” The world and the investors evaluate the countries’ situation by their capacity and resilience at times of disasters whether it be natural or man-made. The risks of investment and building projects in a country are assessed by its capacity to deal with all kinds of disasters. A lack of such plans raises the risk level in investment for both local and foreign investors.Iraq suffered an unrest due to the living conditions that affected the stability of political situation. There were demonstrations and strikes that might have coincided with what happened in Lebanon. Then later came the COVID-19 pandemic. We all need to understand that “Disaster Risk Reduction” is not a luxury, but a necessity and foundation for any development process to achieve progress and stability. The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, and notably the National Societies, and the IFRC are involved in directing the government’s focus to prepare emergency plans. To this date, many governments haven’t done that. This is a real problem, as we may find ourselves facing other disasters without any fending governmental plans, the way it happened with COVID-19. Thus, we see the amplified effect in our countries where the most vulnerable groups in society are to bear it.There’s no doubt that the virus is present among the healthcare workers on the frontline, and the volunteers and staff of the IRCS are no exception. What measures are in place to curb the spread of cases, and how do you deal with the infection cases within the Society?From the beginning, we realized that our affiliates should follow three simple steps: cleaning the hands, wearing a mask, and social distancing. So we have made clear decisions to reduce the number of people in the offices, limit the numbers within the field teams, and in a clear educational method, stress on the importance of taking the obligatory steps to keep the hands clean and put on the mask. We succeeded to a great extent in preventing the infections inside and through our activities and in our institutions. But this did not spare our staff and volunteers from getting infected by their social interactions, in one way or another, with their families and other members of society. There have been cases, but I believe that 99 percent, if not 100 percent, of them came from outside the Iraq Red Crescent National Society.Are you still capable of providing the Society’s regular services on a daily basis (for instance, the ambulatory services, the psycho-social support, etc…) although COVID-19 has been on the top priority of the service list? The psycho-social support is currently a continuing service, namely for the patients, their families, the medical and health cadres who have started to suffer from exhaustion and anxiety too. We offer the First Aid now through our ambulances, but with lower frequency compared to previous times. In fact, I think that as IRCS, we should do business as usual, but gradually and with safe coexistence with people.What does it mean for you, personally, to be the IRCS president in the time of COVID-19? What are the most difficult challenges you have to face?As a president of the IRCS in such circumstances and in a country where human suffering is diverse and abundant, it means one thing: keep trying to be innovative in all means. We shouldn’t follow the traditional ways, as we have to be creative in order to deliver our response to the amounting humanitarian needs deriving from COVID-19 and from other issues. And this is the primary challenge. Thank God we haven’t stopped providing our services to the community and were able, despite the regular life disruption for a period of time, to conduct our activities according to population’s needs emerging from the pandemic. As IRCS, I believe we navigated lots of phases in fulfilling our humanitarian goals, as well as answering people’s requirements.Among other challenges is maintaining the National Society’s regular activities, effectiveness, and staff performance. I mean here particularly its the staff who have been working every day, day and night, without interruption in spite of the difficult circumstances that we went through.
| Press release
Climate change a priority for newest Red Cross societies
Geneva, 5 December 2019 – The two newest members of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) both consider responding to the humanitarian impacts of climate change as one of their main priorities.
The Bhutan Red Cross Society and the Marshall Islands Red Cross Society were admitted today as 191st and 192nd full members of the IFRC. This was decided unanimously at the 22nd Session of the IFRC General Assembly that is currently underway in Geneva.
IFRC President, Francesco Rocca, said:
“The tiny, mountainous Kingdom of Bhutan and the 29 coral atolls and five low-lying islands that make up the Republic of the Marshall Islands are examples of how the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement unites and brings peace and cooperation among diverse countries.
“They are also examples of how humanity is united in a battle against the climate crisis. In both countries, the humanitarian impacts of climate change are real and represent a clear threat to vulnerable communities.”
In Bhutan, climate change is contributing to heavier rains, flash floods and the emergence of new diseases. The Bhutan Red Cross Societies’ staff and 2,400 volunteers in 20 district branches are helping communities prepare by focussing on health, including training bus and taxi drivers in first aid, disaster management and climate change adaptation.
Bhutan Red Cross Society Secretary General, Dragyel Tenzin Dorjee, said:
“The seven Fundamental Principles of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement - humanity, impartiality, neutrality, independence, voluntary service, unity and universality - represent timeless morals and deeply resonate with Bhutan's own guiding philosophy of gross national happiness, which places human welfare as the most vital objective of the Royal Government.”
The Marshall Islands Red Cross Society began as a small but dedicated group of volunteers who wanted to help drought-stricken communities in 2013. It has now grown into an organisation that focuses on health, disaster management, climate change adaptation and volunteer mobilisation, and its network of 50 volunteers includes 11 emergency response teams across the country of 75,000 people.
Marshall Islands Red Cross Society President Dr Alexander Pinano said:
“Our country is at the forefront of the global climate crisis. Even as I speak, we are facing climate change-related increases in diseases including dengue fever as well as drought and regular coastal inundation because of large swells and king tides. Our volunteers are actively supporting their communities and we are proud to continue to do so as an official part of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement.”
The National Society Investment Alliance : First Funding Announcement
The National Society Investment Alliance (NSIA) today announced the results of its first round of funding, with accelerator investments awarded to the Red Cross Societies of Lebanon and Ukraine, and bridge funding awards made to a further eight National Societies (Armenia, Colombia, Comoros, Malawi, Namibia, Uganda and Zambia). Together this represents a combined total of nearly 1.5 million CHF.Announcing the results of the first funding round, Co-chairs of the NSIA Steering Committee, Dr. Jemilah Mahmood, Under-Secretary General for Partnerships at the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), and Balthasar Staehelin, Deputy Director-General of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), said:“We are delighted to announce this first round of NSIA funding, the culmination of a process that has involved collaboration and cooperation from across the Movement, and demonstrates the demand and potential for investment in National Society capacity.”To respond to the varied needs of National Societies, NSIA can award up to one million Swiss francs of accelerator funding to any one National Society over a five-year period. In addition, bridge grants of up to 50,000 Swiss francs over 12 months can help National Societies prepare the ground for future investment from NSIA or elsewhere.To date, NSIA has been supported by generous contributions from the governments of Switzerland, The United States, and Canada.First Round of NSIA FundingThe first call for proposals received 48 applications from National Societies across all regions, with a range of contextual challenges and organizational development needs. In response, the NSIA Office conducted an independent and objective process of consultation and review, working with colleagues from the IFRC and the ICRC at the national and regional level, as well as the National Societies themselves.The Steering Committee agreed that the first 10 National Societies that will receive bridge funding are: Armenia, Colombia, Comoros, Lebanon, Malawi, Namibia, Nigeria, Uganda, Ukraine and Zambia. Lebanon and Ukraine will receive the accelerator funding in this first round.The proposals from National Societies speak to a wide-range of needs, and are underlined by the desire to increase their sustainability, independence and ability to provide relevant services to vulnerable populations. Key themes across the applications include: efforts to increase financial sustainability, develop system and structures at the national and branch level, and improve governance and accountability.Selected National SocietiesAccelerator FundingThe Lebanese Red Cross will use a substantial accelerator investment grant to strengthen its Project Monitoring Evaluation and Reporting (PMER), communications, and fundraising capacity with the aim of meeting more than 70% of its core services costs through local sources by 2023.Similarly, the Ukrainian Red Cross Society will utilise an accelerator investment to develop its resource mobilization capacities, building on initial planning and analysis and helping the National Society respond to the ongoing crisis in the country.Bridge FundingThe bridge grant will support the Armenian Red Cross Society to develop a resource mobilization plan, focusing on un-earmarked income generation that is urgently required to meet ARCS programmatic activity needs.The Colombian Red Cross Society will receive bridge funding to help develop, test and implement new initiatives which will ensure regular income, strengthening the National Society in three crosscutting areas: communication and marketing, reporting and training.There is a need for the Comoros Red Crescent to enhance staff core competencies with regard to governance and financial management. The bridge grant will therefore allow the development of an investment plan for the National Society to best use potential future investment.NSIA bridge grant funding will enable the Malawi Red Cross Society to conduct a thorough and detailed assessment of potential national level income sources, subsequently developing an investment proposal to pursue the most promising.It is expected that through the bridge grant implementation, the Namibia Red Cross will be able to resolve a number a of critical challenges by consolidating its financial statements and systems, increasing financial liquidity and developing a forward-looking strategy.The Nigerian Red Cross Society will receive bridge funding to help explore the opportunities for developing commercial first aid services in the country, conducting a detailed analysis and developing a business plan for future investment.The Uganda Red Cross Society will receive bridge funding to work with its operational network of 51 branches to consolidate and improve its first aid training, and explore the possibility to unlock this resource and generate national level income.With several institutional changes needed within the Zambia Red Cross Society in order to achieve its development goals, a bridge grant will allow the ZRCS to undertake a midterm review of its existing strategic plan and developed and improved strategic and investment plan looking forward.
| 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
10,000 Red Cross volunteers take part in Europe’s largest annual volunteer gathering
Solferino, Italy, 24 June 2018 – More than 10,000 Red Cross volunteers representing more than 60 National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies from around the world have gathered in the northern Italian town of Solferino for an annual tribute to the events that led to the foundation of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement.
The two-day festivities culminated last night in the Fiaccolata, a torch lit march that retraces the steps of the women of the town of Castiglione delle Stiviere in the aftermath of the bloody Battle of Solferino in 1859. These women provided first aid and care to the many wounded left laying on that battlefield, paying no attention to a soldier’s nationality, and laying the foundations for neutral and impartial humanitarian action.
Swiss businessman Henry Dunant, inspired by the people he met in Solferino and Castiglione, sought to transform the devastation of the battlefield of Solferino into something positive and innovative – a global humanitarian network with the goal of helping those in need during times of conflict, and to change the nature of warfare.
“This is an important weekend for the Red Cross,” said Francesco Rocca, President of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC). “It is a chance to reflect on our history and our humanitarian principles. But more importantly, it is a chance to pause and look ahead, to consider our world, and to think about the kind of organization we will need to be in the future.”
On Friday and Saturday morning, leaders from 35 National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies took part in a session of the Solferino Academy designed to explore future humanitarian challenges and to consider how a global organization like the IFRC will need to respond.
This meeting comes amid rising humanitarian needs around the world, fuelled by conflicts, increasing disasters, and the emergence and spread of new or forgotten diseases. All this is taking place in a world where respect for basic humanitarian norms and for international humanitarian law seems to be on the decline.
“Next year, we will adopt a new Strategy 2030. We don’t know what our world will look like in five or ten years. But we can be confident that some of the challenges we face will be different to those we are currently grappling with,” said Mr Rocca.
“Our goal isn’t only to anticipate what those challenges will be, but rather to make sure that we are the kind of organization that can adapt to new demands, that can be agile in its thinking, and rapid in its response.
“Key to this is the need to invest more in strengthening local capacity.”