Refugees

Displaying 1 - 25 of 39
10/05/2022 | Press release

Syria remains in crisis – the world, and donors, must not turn away now

With Syria now in its 11th year of unrelenting crisis, the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement again calls on the international community to not forget the continuing humanitarian needs in the country. Right now, people in Syria need continued solidarity and committed support in order to cope with ongoing hostilities, economic woes, crippled infrastructure, and immense humanitarian needs in the country. At present at least 14.6 million people need assistance and are more dependent on aid than ever before. Humanitarian actors, including the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, provide a lifeline in response to enormous needs. Despite security challenges and political blockages, we are finding ways to repair critical infrastructure and make sure people have access to basic services such as clean water, electricity, and functioning health services. To be able to meet these humanitarian challenges, we need continued financial support from the international community. The importance of support to continue vitally needed humanitarian action cannot be overstated. While much of the world’s attention has turned towards other crises, such as in Ukraine, millions remain in need in Syria. "The armed conflict in Ukraine is adding another layer of challenge to the situation in Syria," said Fabrizio Carboni, ICRC’s regional director for Near and Middle East. "We’re worried about more food insecurity and ever-increasing prices. Even if the Ukraine conflict ended tomorrow the underlying impact of the climate crisis and the pressure this is putting on water resources and food production would still leave us with many issues to cope with.” Our Movement has been responding to the needs of people in Syria since the first days of the conflict, with volunteers and staff providing vital aid to people in areas that others cannot reach. Without them, this humanitarian catastrophe would have been much worse. Each month, we assist millions of people inside Syria; for this life-saving work to continue, humanitarian workers must have sustained, safe, and non-politically motivated access to all people, families, and communities in need. We ask that States and all parties to the conflict ensure international humanitarian law is respected in their operations. Dr. Hossam Elsharkawi, IFRC Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa said: “We have seen with the Ukraine crisis how reducing restrictive measures on humanitarian activities has enabled our Movement to rapidly reach millions of people who need assistance, desperately. I call on donors, to apply the same flexibility to the Syrian context. Ideally, by extending the same humanitarian exemptions and licenses. This will create better conditions to minimize unnecessary suffering and bring dignity to affected people.” Millions of Syrians living outside their homeland also continue to need support; neighbouring countries currently host the majority of people who have fled from violence in Syria. In Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, and Iraq, National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies are providing support to those who have fled, as well as the communities who host them. Countries in Europe have been implementing a wide range of activities to help Syrians integrate into their host communities, from offering psycho-social support programmes, to running reception centres, to facilitating reunification procedures with family members left behind. For further information please contact: ICRC: Jesus Serrano Redondo (Geneva), M +41 79 275 69 93, email:[email protected] IFRC: Rana Sidani Cassou, M: +41 76 671 57 51 / +33 6 75 94 55 15, email:[email protected]

Read more
29/03/2022 | Article

Kuwaiti Red Crescent and Egyptian Red Crescent support people fleeing Ukraine

Since the onset of the conflict in Ukraine, Kuwait Red Crescent Society and Egyptian Red Crescent Society teams have rushed to provide humanitarian relief to the neighbouring countries of Ukraine. The Kuwaiti Red Crescent has provided food, medical aid, and necessary supplies to fleeing people affected by the conflict. While the Egyptian Red Crescent has assisted and evacuated Egyptians from Poland and Romania, and provided humanitarian support to others affected alike, including Arabic-speaking people. Dr. Hilal Al Sayer, President of the Kuwait Red Crescent Society (KRCS) said after meeting his Polish counterpart, Jery Bisek: “Kuwaiti aid includes medicines, medical supplies, food, milk for children and other necessities, and it reflects the Kuwaiti leadership and people’s solidarity with affected people living under such difficult circumstances.” Al-Sayer affirmed his country’s keenness to participate in humanitarian relief in all parts of the world, in line with the Kuwaiti humanitarian obligations. He stressed the need to further explore all ways to enhance cooperation and joint coordination to help alleviate the suffering of refugees from Ukraine, with partner organizations in the humanitarian field and with the Polish Red Cross. In turn, the President of the Polish Red Cross expressed his appreciation and gratitude after a Kuwaiti military aid plane loaded with relief materials and medical aid, estimated at 33.5 tons, arrived at Warsaw Airport in Poland. Bisek said: “The Kuwaiti Red Crescent is one of the first National Society responders that stepped in to provide the necessary support and assistance for those fleeing Ukraine”, adding that "the needs are still massive". In parallel, the Egyptian Red Crescent Society continues to provide aid and support to the Egyptian students and families it helped evacuate safely home after they had fled to Poland and Romania. Volunteers have worked tirelessly to ensure transportation for Egyptians fleeing from Ukraine across the borders of Poland and Romania to the airport. They also provided them with free hotel accommodation and food, travel documents, cash assistance, medical services, and psychological support. Students and their families expressed deep gratitude to the Egyptian Red Crescent Society for standing by their side in this ordeal, meeting their needs, and ensuring their safe return to their home country. The Egyptian Red Crescent Society, in collaboration with Polish and Romanian Red Cross Societies, has also established two relief centres at the Ukrainian-Romanian and Ukrainian-Polish borders to provide aid to Egyptians, Arabic speakers and others fleeing the conflict in Ukraine, especially women and children. The Egyptian Red Crescent Society also published a slogan on its Facebook page “Safety and Relief Without Discrimination’. Prior to the conflict, 6000 Egyptians lived in Ukraine, 3,000 of whom are students enrolled in the country’s universities.

Read more
18/01/2022 | Press release

#PowerToBe campaign launches to help shift perceptions of refugees

Ankara/Berlin, 18 January 2022 -The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) has launched a campaign to tackle negative perceptions of refugees at an increasingly critical time across Europe. The #PowerToBe campaign follows four passionate Syrians living in Turkey – Hiba, a musician, Eslam, an illustrator, Ibrahim, a swimmer and Mohammed, a coffee lover – who are regaining control of their lives through the help of monthly cash assistance funded by the EU, ultimately giving them more power to be themselves. The four protagonists each meet digitally with influential people from Germany, Italy, Sweden, Turkey, Portugal and Poland who share a common passion for music, art, water sports and coffee. The campaign shows how people from all walks of life can connect with one another at eye-level despite differences in language or backgrounds. In the #PowerToBe campaign, fifteen-year-old drawer Eslam speaks to well-known German illustrator Steffen Kraft, Italian street artist and painter Alice Pasquini and Swedish street artist Johan Karlgren about her passion for illustration. “Drawing a lot helped me to show the world, even if only a little, what happened in Syria,” Eslam said. Ibrahim, who became paralyzed during the conflict in Syria, connects with Polish professional high diver, Kris Kolanus about the freedom and boundlessness they both feel in the ocean. “Even though many things can hinder me, I am trying to do something. For next year, I’m preparing myself to swim the competition across the Bosporus.” Mohammed, a father of two, talks to Turkish coffee bean suppliers Hasibe and Ümit about his passion and memories associated with coffee. “When we came to Turkey to an empty house, we had nothing at all. Some Turkish brothers helped us, gave us some furniture.” They tasted his coffee and told him it was “the best they’ve ever had”. Hiba, who now attends a music school in Istanbul, connected with Portuguese singer-songwriter April Ivy, whom she wrote and sang a song with. “I like to give people hope because whatever struggles we go through, there are actually nice things happening as well,” Hiba says. Turkey is currently home to the world’s largest refugee population with almost four million who are trying to rebuild their lives. About 3.7 million of those are Syrians who fled the conflict that has devastated their country. Funded by the European Union, the Emergency Social Safety Net (ESSN) is the biggest humanitarian programme in the history of the EU and provides monthly cash assistance via debit cards to nearly 1.5 million vulnerable refugees in Turkey. The ESSN is implemented by the Turkish Red Crescent and the IFRC in coordination with the Government of Turkey. The cash assistance helps give refugees some relief from an exceptionally challenging year where many are facing deepening debt and poverty due to the secondary impacts of COVID-19. Cash assistance helps give people like Hiba, Eslam, Mohammed and Ibrahim freedom and dignity to decide for themselves how to cover essential needs like rent, transport, bills, food, and medicine. At the same time, it provides the opportunity to invest back into communities that host them, supporting the local Turkish economy. This year we have seen vulnerable refugee communities slip further into hardships, but we also see their hope and strength. Through this campaign, we wanted to highlight the contributions and resilience they have despite all the challenges. When given the right support, refugees’ potential is endless. Jagan Chapagain IFRC Secretary General Hiba, Eslam, Ibrahim and Mohammed were forced to leave everything behind, but have held on to their dreams and continued to pursue them with passion. The ESSN programme offers a critical lifeline to them and 1.5 million other vulnerable refugees in Turkey, many of whom have been especially hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic. We are proud to see the tangible difference it makes by giving them the opportunity to make choices for their lives. Janez Lenarčič EU Commissioner for Crisis Management More information Click here to download more information about the #PowerToBe campaign, including short backgrounds on each of the people receiving ESSN assistance and the influencers taking part. You can also visit the #PowerToBe website and learn more about the ESSN on our website here. To arrange interviews, please contact: In Berlin: Samantha Hendricks (Social Social), +49 1577 495 8901, [email protected] In Turkey: Nisa Çetin (Turkish Red Crescent), +90 554 830 31 14, [email protected] In Turkey: Corrie Butler (IFRC), +90 539 857 51 98, [email protected] In Turkey: Lisa Hastert (ECHO), +90 533 412 56 63. [email protected]

Read more
25/01/2022 | Article

Cash and livelihoods: a winning combination for long-term sustainability and support to refugees

By Deniz Kacmaz, IFRC Turkey, Livelihood Officer Turkey is hosting the largest refugee population in the world. More than 3.7 million Syrians have sought refuge as well as 330,000 under international protection and those seeking asylum, including Iraqis, Afghans, Iranians, Somalis, among others. With the conflict in Syria now entering its twelfth year with few signs of change, means that we are not just looking at a humanitarian emergency anymore, but on long-term resilience. Since the refugee influx began in Turkey, the Turkish Red Crescent (Türk Kızılay) has been taking a leading role in the response. As of April 2020, Turkish Red Crescent through its KIZILAYKART platform and IFRC run the largest humanitarian cash programme in the world, the Emergency Social Safety Net (ESSN), funded by the EU. This programme has helped more than 1.5 million cover some of their most basic needs, covering their groceries, rent and utilities, medicine and their children's school supplies. But humanitarian emergency cash assistance can only go so far. There is also a need to focus on longer-term resilience. This is why we are working on both the urgent needs of refugees, while also supporting longer-term livelihood opportunities for refugees and host communities. From humanitarian cash to longer-term resilience We are working on both the urgent needs of refugees, while also supporting longer-term livelihood opportunities for refugees and host communities. This means being part of the labour market to meet their own needs and rebuild their life without depending on social assistance, including the ESSN. We must focus on long-term solutions where refugees, supported by the ESSN, gain their power to stand on their feet and become self-reliant again. I have been working at IFRC Turkey Delegation for almost two years helping identify gaps and find opportunities to empower people's socio-economic capacities. This approach helps ensure they are resilient in combating challenges in the future, including the devastating socio-economic impacts brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic and general obstacles around employment opportunities. We have seen in many contexts when refugees are able to build their resilience and self-sufficiency, they can contribute even more meaningfully to the local economy. When they benefit, we all benefit, including host communities. What are we doing to bring this long-term solution to the lives of refugees? As of April 2021, we have launched referrals that link people receiving cash assistance through ESSN with a plethora of livelihood trainings and opportunities in Turkish Red Crescent community centres. The 19 community centres across Turkey offer support to both refugee and host communities, including work permit support, vocational courses such as sewing; mask producing; various agricultural trainings; and Turkish language courses and skills trainings. These services are critical to breaking barriers in the local markets. The community centres connect skilled individuals to relevant job opportunities by coordinating with public institutions and other livelihood sector representatives. The ESSN cash assistance provides support to refugees in the short term while giving them opportunities to learn new skills, which can lead to income generation in the long term. How do we conduct referrals from the ESSN to livelihoods? There are many sources where families are identified for referrals, some of the most common are: Turkish Red Crescent (Türk Kızılay) Service Centre 168 Kızılay Call Centre Direct e-mail address to the TRC referral and outreach team Identified potential individuals among ESSN protection cases Field teams including monitoring and evaluation and referral and outreach teams who are regularly engaging with those benefitting from ESSN In the first months of combining cash assistance with longer-term programmes, we have supported more than 1,000 refugees. Some have been referred to employment supports including consultancy for employment and work permit support, while others are attending language courses, vocational trainings, and skills development courses through public institutions, NGOs, UN agencies and TRC’s community centres. Though we have developed a robust livelihood referral system, collectively, we need to make stronger investments in social economic empowerment in the future. While we continue to work on improving our programming and referral mechanisms, as IFRC, we are also reaching out to agencies, civil society, donors, and authorities tolook at how we can: increase investment in socio-economic empowerment in Turkey, mitigate barriers to employment for refugees, and create greater synergies between humanitarian and development interventions. It is this collective effort that will deliver the longer-term gains necessary for both refugee and local communities in Turkey to thrive. -- The ESSN is the largest humanitarian cash assistance program in the world, and it is funded by the European Union. The ESSN has been implemented nationwide in Turkey in coordination and collaboration with the Turkish Red Crescent and International Federation of Red Cross and Crescent Societies (IFRC). We reach more than 1.5 million refugees in Turkey through the ESSN, and we give cash assistance to the most vulnerable populations to make sure they meet their basic needs and live a dignified life. The Turkish Red Crescent with its 19 community centres throughout Turkey supports millions of refugees as well as host communities. The Centres provide several courses, vocational trainings, social cohesion activities, health, psychosocial support, and protection services, among others.

Read more
16/12/2021 | Press release

Red Cross Red Crescent reaching 1.5 million people on the move in MENA, yet millions are left without support

Beirut, 16 December 2021 – Red Cross and Red Crescent National Societies are reaching more than 1.5 million migrants, refugees and internally displaced people (IDPs) in the Middle East and North Africa, yet the number of people on the move left without essential support is colossal, a report by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) has found. Ahead of International Migrants Day on 18 December, the IFRC is calling for a stronger commitment to support people on the move during their journey, not only once they have managed to reach their planned destination – if they ever do. Fabrizio Anzolini, Migration Regional Advisor for IFRC MENA, said: “Countless migrants face inhumane conditions along their way, including violence, lack of food, shelter and access to health services. Climate change and conflicts are only expected to accelerate the number of people migrating out of the region in the coming months and years. We need to act right now on the routes and advocating for durable solutions.” The region, with more than 40 million migrants and 14 million internally displaced people, has some of the world’s longest protracted conflicts, combined with frequent natural disasters, man-made crises and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Regional hotspots include the population movement from Afghanistan to Iran, the migration flows from Morocco, Tunisia and Libya to Europe, the extensive number of internally displaced persons in Syria, as well as the route from the Horn of Africa to Yemen, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states. Rania Ahmed, IFRC MENA Deputy Regional Director, said: “Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies are reaching more than 1.5 million migrants and displaced people in the Middle East and North Africa, but it is not enough. We need bigger investment and greater long-term commitment to address their plight. We need to mobilize all efforts and resources to ensure people on the move receive humanitarian assistance and protection. Migrants and displaced populations are intensely vulnerable and must be included in COVID-19 prevention, response, and recovery plans. We urge governments to ensure that people on the move have equal access to vaccinations, health care and basic services.” With the engagement of the IFRC, Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies in the MENA region are on the frontline attempting to cover the enormous gap between people’s needs and the support that is available for them. Red Cross and Red Crescent teams provide multidisciplinary assistance, including health services, livelihood support, protection for children and victims of violence, mental health, and psychosocial support, as well as cash assistance. These support services are also widely available to host communities, leaving no one behind. Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies remain committed to continue responding to the needs of migrants and displaced people as well as advocating for the support that they need at country, regional and global levels through evidence-based humanitarian diplomacy. However, their continued activities are hampered by shrinking funding. In addition, access to migrants is often limited, especially in conflict zones and due to restrictions put in place to curb the COVID-19 pandemic. You can access the full report here: MENA Red Cross and Red Crescent Activities on Migration and Displacement – Snapshot 2021. The survey includes responses from twelve Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies in the Middle East and North Africa. For more information or to arrange an interview, contact: In Geneva: Rana Sidani Cassou, +41 766715751 / +33 675945515, [email protected] In Beirut: Jani Savolainen, +961 70372812 / +358 504667831, [email protected]

Read more
02/04/2019 | Press release

Red Cross Red Crescent Mediterranean National Societies to tackle cross-cutting migration issues

Sarajevo/Geneva, 2 April 2019 – More than 150 Red Cross Red Crescent delegates from 23 countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea are meeting in Sarajevo this week to discuss approaches to aiding vulnerable migrants and the communities receiving them.Hosted by the Red Cross Society of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Centre for the Cooperation in the Mediterranean (CCM), the meeting’s theme is “Standing for Humanity”. The focus on will be on the safety and protection of migrants, improving social inclusion, preventing trafficking and exploitation, mobilizing more volunteer assistance and the National Societies’ role in implementing the recently adopted Global Compacts on refugees and migration.“While our main focus is assistance for migrants, the Red Cross also assists the host communities,” said Rajko Lazic, Secretary General of the Red Cross Society of Bosnia and Herzegovina. “It was not long ago that our people experienced what it means to be a refugee, and some are still displaced in their own country and in dire need. We seek to balance assistance for both populations.”Maria Alcázar Castilla, spokesperson for the Centre for Cooperation in the Mediterranean (CCM) said the humanitarian issues faced by the Red Cross Red Crescent National Societies in the region are interlinked, so common analysis and approaches are needed.“The Mediterranean region is facing multiple humanitarian challenges - due to unrest and violence, the ongoing flow of vulnerable migrants, economic crises and climate change impacts. The conference intends to reaffirm the urgency of principled humanitarian action, promote humanitarian access and reinforce the absolute necessity of placing the safety and needs of people at the heart of our action,” she said.The President of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), Francesco Rocca will also address the conference.“Every human being, especially people fleeing conflict and insecurity, should have unhindered access to aid and also to information, at all phases of their journeys. Every human being has the right to protection, health care, education and social services” said President Rocca. “Human dignity should be respected and protected, regardless of their legal status.”Migrant arrivals in the Mediterranean region and other areas of Europe usually rise during spring and summer months.

Read more
23/11/2021 | Press release

Bangladesh: Greater efforts needed to keep people safe on Bhashan Char

Kuala Lumpur/Dhaka/Geneva, 23 November 2021: Urgent action is being taken to keep people safe from cyclones and the COVID-19 pandemic on Bhashan Char Island. COVID-19 vaccinations have been underway for people aged over 55 on the island, and more doses are due for the remaining adults. Around 18,000 people displaced from Rakhine, Myanmar, have been relocated by authorities from camps in Cox’s Bazar to sturdier homes on Bhashan Char. Bangladesh Red Crescent has been working directly with displaced people so that lifesaving measures are in place ahead of the next big cyclone, as big storms regularly threaten the area from September until December. Feroz Salah Uddin, Secretary General of Bangladesh Red Crescent Society said: “Every effort is being made on Bhashan Char Island to improve living conditions and support people to be well prepared to take early lifesaving action ahead of any super cyclones. Volunteer teams have been trained in early warning action drills, first aid, search and rescue, and managing cyclone shelters. “Our teams have been helping with COVID-19 vaccinations for older people most at risk of the disease while helping everyone to stay safe and healthy with clean water, food relief packs, hygiene kits, and access to healthcare.” The IFRC is appealing for 86 million Swiss Francs to provide critical immediate and longer-term humanitarian support for the nearly one million displaced people living in the camps in Cox’s Bazar and those on Bhashan Char Island, including safer shelter, healthcare, improved access to clean water and sanitation and protecting people from the growing risks of climate disasters. In recent weeks, Bangladesh Red Crescent volunteers have helped vaccinate more than 1,000 people aged over 55, and more vaccinations are planned as soon as vaccines become available. Alexander Matheou, Asia Pacific Director, international Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies said: “Everyone living on Bhashan Char Island needs to feel safe and every effort needs to be made to enable Bangladesh to have a fair share of COVID-19 vaccines. This is a critical part of enabling Bangladesh to manage the responsibility of hosting such a large number of displaced people.” “The IFRC has revised its Emergency Appeal for the next three years, to help meet the growing humanitarian needs in Cox's Bazaar and Bhashan Char, including risks from climate disasters. There is a critical 75 million Swiss Francs funding gap. After meeting the Bangladesh State Minister of Disaster Management and Relief, Alexander Matheou said: "Beyond immediate humanitarian assistance, it is clear that we must work together to support safety, livelihoods, recreation and overall well-being of people experiencing such a long and traumatic displacement.” Alexander Matheou is visiting Bhashan Char with the leadership of Bangladesh Red Crescent today. Read and download the revised Emergency Appeal here. For more information or to arrange an interview, contact: In Dhaka: Sajid Hasan, +880 1673 019617, [email protected] Mahmudul Hasan, +880 1716 103333, [email protected] In Kuala Lumpur: Antony Balmain, +60 12 230 8451, [email protected]

Read more
30/04/2021 | Basic page

Migration: our programmes

Around the world, our 192 Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies are a lifeline for vulnerable migrants and displaced people—whoever and wherever they are on their journeys.

Read more
29/04/2021 | Basic page

Migration: policies and strategies

At the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), we have numerous policies, resolutions and strategies that guide our everyday work supporting people on the move. Discover them below.

Read more
30/06/2021 | Press release

Blind spots continue to prevent access to COVID-19 vaccines for refugees and migrants, new Red Cross and Red Crescent report says

Geneva, 30 June 2021 – New research conducted by the Red Cross Red Crescent Global Migration Lab across more than 50 countries reveals that refugees and migrants continue to face serious obstacles in accessing COVID-19 vaccines. Despite some progress made in policy, the equitable inclusion of refugees and migrants in vaccination strategies and plans is far from universal. The new study, Sight Unseen: A vision for effective access to COVID-19 vaccines for migrants, takes stock of current global trends in migrants’ access to COVID-19 vaccines and builds on findings of an earlier report released in March 2021 by the Red Cross Red Crescent Global Migration Lab on the impact of COVID-19 on migrants’ access to essential services. Research draws on publicly available data from a wide range of sources, including academic institutions, governments, the United Nations, media and civil society organizations and is complemented by insights and cases studies from a survey of 52 National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies working directly with migrants and host communities around the world. Francesco Rocca, President of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), said: “While some progress has been made on paper to include all migrants in vaccination strategies and plans, research insights indicate that - in practice - some groups, particularly undocumented migrants, are still left out. Ensuring everyone has access to COVID-19 vaccines is not just the right thing to do from a humanitarian perspective; it is also the smart thing to do from a health and socio-economic standpoint.” Across the global survey, National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies identified the following main barriers to migrants’ access to COVID-19 vaccines: 90% of respondents pointed to limited information about where and how to get the vaccine; 80% to vaccine hesitancy due to fears of side effects; 67% to language; 60% to lack of required documentation; 50% to fears of arrest, detention or deportation; 50% to limited vaccine supply; and 33% to complex registration processes. National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies across the globe, supported by the IFRC Secretariat, are working tirelessly with governments and host communities to address these barriers. Among those surveyed, 87% indicated that they are involved in information-sharing and awareness-raising activities for migrants on where and how to access COVID-19 vaccines; 77% are supporting migrants in registering or attending vaccination appointments; 70% are involved in direct advocacy with governments and policy makers for greater inclusion of migrants; and 60% are specifically tackling vaccine hesitancy. Francesco Rocca said: “To beat COVID-19, we will need to focus both on the ‘hardware’ and the ‘software’ of successful vaccination. The hardware is about getting vaccines to every country and every community. The software is ensuring that everyone, including refugees and migrants, is informed and included. The work of National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies will be critical for both of these aspects. “To end the pandemic and drive recovery, it is urgent to break down all barriers and put in place measures that ensure access to COVID-19 vaccines for all.”

Read more
10/06/2021 | Article

North Macedonia: Migrant women find support in each other

By Nora Peter, IFRC Two women from Syria and Congo are living together with their children in a small apartment in Skopje. Their husbands are working abroad, and the women are both volunteering for the Red Cross while waiting for their families to be reunited. “My daughter hasn’t seen her father for four years. She doesn’t even remember what it’s like to have a father around, even though we talk to him on Viber every day. When we see a man with children and they call him ‘dad’, she does the same,” one of the women, Aofe, says. Aofe was separated from her husband on their journey through Europe. The couple left Syria five years ago and headed to Greece where their daughter was born. After six months, the family moved on to North Macedonia. Aofe couldn’t continue the journey because she broke her leg, so she and her daughter stayed in the country while her husband went to The Netherlands to apply for asylum. “I hope that I will be able to visit him in The Netherlands this year, with the help of the Red Cross,” she says. At a safe house for mothers, she met Sandra, a Congolese refugee. They became friends. When both received subsidiary protection – a legal status that precedes being recognized as a refugee in North Macedonia – they decided to rent an apartment in Skopje. Now they live together as one family, helping each other out with every aspect of life. Aofe is enrolled in Skopje Red Cross’ project for the social integration of asylum seekers and is volunteering at a Day Care Centre for people with mental disabilities. She enjoys the work but has a bigger dream. Since she was a little girl, she’s wanted to be a cook, and now with the support of the Red Cross, she is training to become one. Sandra has a similar story. She left Congo with her husband and son, and passing through Senegal, Morocco, Turkey and Greece, ended up in North Macedonia. At that time, Sandra was nine months pregnant with her second child. After she gave birth, her husband has moved on to France to find a job to provide for the family, while Sandra, her son and the baby stayed at the safe house in Skopje. “The support I receive from Red Cross gives me hope that everything will be all right. It has helped me cope with my feelings of fear and anxiety during the COVID-19 pandemic. They showed me how to use masks and disinfectants and kept me informed about curfew and other developments in the country,” she says. Sandra has completed a vocational course to become a hairdresser and is now working as a trainee at a hair salon. She also volunteers at a Red Cross second-hand store. “I love hairdressing and hope to make a living from it. I want to be independent and make my own money like any other person in this country, and set a good example for my children,” she explains.

Read more
29/03/2021 | Press release

Bangladesh: International relief needed on Bhasan Char Island

Kuala Lumpur/Dhaka, 29 March 2021 – International support is needed to maintain humanitarian services for more than 13,000 people who have been relocated to Bhasan Char island from Cox’s Bazar. This appeal follows an independent visit by representatives from the Bangladesh Red Crescent Society and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) to Bhasan Char. The visit team found that the Government of Bangladesh has made progress on Bhasan Char in terms of the development of infrastructure. However, it also found urgent investment is needed to ensure that women and children are adequately protected, and that food security, health care and schooling is assured both in the short and longer-term. Furthermore, while evacuation centres are in place to keep people safe from disasters, there remain concerns that the island could be exposed during the upcoming cyclone season and that systems are further strengthened to manage the potential isolation caused by storms. Feroz Salah Uddin, Secretary General, Bangladesh Red Crescent said: “After nearly four years living in precarious camps in cramped conditions, many people are relocating to the island of Bhasan Char and we are providing a range of relief services at this critical time. “Bangladesh Red Crescent is working with authorities to deliver food packages, hygiene items, sanitation and health services to thousands of people on the island for the coming months.” The IFRC urges the Government of Bangladesh, humanitarian agencies and international donors to do everything possible to keep people displaced from Rakhine State safe and able to live with dignity, wherever they are located, including on Bhasan Char. Sanjeev Kafley, Bangladesh Head of Delegation, IFRC, said: “With the cyclone season fast approaching, people on Bhasan Char could become stranded with a shortage of food when major storms strike, leaving the sea passage impassable, in turn denying the delivery of relief, medicines and other vital supplies. “Everyone relocating must have access to all of the essentials for a healthy life, including nutritious food, hygiene items such as soap, along with health and medical care. Women and children must be afforded protection from violence and other risks. “People who are now living on Bhasan Char have been through so many hardships and they deserve opportunities for a fulfilling life, with opportunities to start new livelihoods and access to education and other activities,” Mr Kafley said.

Read more
12/03/2021 | Basic page

Migration and displacement

Migration and displacement posesome of the biggest humanitarian challenges of our time. Our work supporting people on the movefocuses on saving lives and preventing suffering. We also helppeoplecope with the risks and challenges of migration and work to protect and restore theirdignity.

Read more
01/10/2020 | Article

Dreams, hopes and fears in the Bangladesh camps

By Farid Alam, 21-year-old resident of Kutupalong camp, whose parents fled Rakhine, Myanmar nearly 30 years ago. Farid is a Bangladesh Red Crescent volunteer working alongside international Red Cross operations. When I was born in Kutupalong camp, Bangladesh, it was a very different place. I remember laughing and flying kites as a child with my friends. Kites are not flying around our camps anymore. There is little laughter. Just months ago, we lived in a different world. We used to go outside a lot, seeking freedom from our little bamboo and plastic homes. But now, due to COVID we cannot. Often we are told to stay inside. It’s hot and cramped as I have a big family, with nine of us living in one room. Physical distance is just not possible in our homes. It’s the same for most living here. We have hardly any masks and other protective equipment in the camps. We have no idea how we are surviving. Most people in the camps do not seem to care about much, certainly not COVID-19. Our main worries are our dignity, our safety and having hope for our future. We are not only fighting with the coronavirus here. We are fighting much more. I know about COVID-19 but most people in the camps have not heard of it. Many don’t know what a virus is. We have seen many organizations using loudspeakers to make people aware of coronavirus. It doesn’t work. They speak so fast and move past too quickly. Our community Bangladesh Red Crescent volunteers are doing a great job going door to door. I’m seeing people understand now. It helps a lot. I see this place full of suffering. From dawn to dusk, we endure challenges: finding food, repairing our homes, keeping safe or seeking water. Our lives are filled with limitations. Most of us do not have the opportunity to read and write. When I can, I pass the time reading. I love history and English literature. Ever since my childhood, I wanted to be a teacher. I studied up to my eighth year as we were not allowed more education than that. It was very difficult to accept. Since then I have been studying by myself. It would be my dream to become a teacher. But my life has become very difficult lately as my father is sick. For many years, my 48-year-old father volunteered with Bangladesh Red Crescent operations in the camps. Our whole family was dependent on his allowance and aid we received. He has developed heart problems and other health complications. Since I was 14, I have been volunteering with Red Crescent. I have been working as much as possible, around two weeks a month and I am paid a small allowance. This money is all we have. I want to support my family with all my heart. I am trying to protect my family from COVID-19. My parents came here after fleeing from Rakhine in Myanmar nearly 30 years ago. Every day I worry for my mother, who suffers from chronic kidney disease. Our shelters are getting old. The bamboo frames, plastic and tarpaulins are wearing out. When it rains, water often pours into our homes. It’s the monsoon season now and it’s raining a lot so it is very hard to sleep. We often wait in a queue to access a toilet and bathing area. It’s shared with 25-30 people. My mother and sister fear going out at night to use the toilet. There is no lighting and they must go in complete darkness. Often I go for support. Things are worse in the mud of the monsoon rains. Staring at the roof of our shelter, I hear the sound of people speaking nonstop. We have no personal space. No privacy whatsoever. As if life is not hard enough, there are mice and rats as big as cats. They often make more holes in our tarpaulins. I find time to help my neighbour’s children reading and writing. I teach them maths, Arabic and English. I love teaching them. I don’t want children in my community to lose their future. Since official teaching activities have been halted, I think the children will forget the lessons they have been taught by their teachers in the past. I also speak to them about the risks we face with COVID-19. If I were a citizen of any country, I could finish my education. I would love to pursue a higher education. If I could become a teacher and work, I would love to better support my family. But I am not that lucky person. I am stuck here. I do not know what will happen to me and my family in the coming days. Whatever happens, we will face it together. All I want is to forget everything and start a new life. Earn a little to survive and live a very simple life with my family.

Read more
30/09/2020 | Article

Tackling fear, mistrust and COVID in Bangladesh camps

I’m an emergency doctor with years of experience yet dealing with a COVID-19 outbreak in the Bangladesh camps is by far the biggest challenge I have ever faced. I live and work in the heart of the biggest camp for displaced people in the world. Where many live 10 to a cramped room, I sleep in a big tent with one other doctor. Where most homes leak in the heavy rain, mine is watertight. When I rise at dawn, I see morning mists on the hills of Myanmar. A seven-month-old baby girl tests positive for COVID-19 and becomes one of our first cases. Her family lives among the jigsaw puzzle of bamboo and tarpaulin homes cramped across the hillsides. Our community health volunteers have trekked along muddy tracks to counsel the family. The baby and extended family are all at risk. It is a difficult conversation involving many family members and finally the parents agree to take the child to our COVID treatment centre. On arrival, the father is upset and changes his mind about allowing the baby to be admitted. The mother is also distraught as she reveals that she has lost two babies in the past year. She does not want to take any risks with her baby girl. It is heartbreaking to see her pain. Our health workers counsel the father and it becomes clear that he also fears for himself and despairs for what he will do with no food and no one to cook for him at home. We offer to support him with food as well as providing for the baby and her mother. Finally, the father agrees that he will isolate at home for two weeks after being in close contact with his COVID-positive child. The fear about this dangerous disease hangs thick in the air. There is little understanding about the way it is spread. Gaining trust of everyone is a major challenge and is key to tackling the spread of diseases in the camps. The next day, the father and the baby’s grandfather arrive at our treatment centre and threaten to leave with the mother and their baby. We urgently involve local camp and religious leaders, including the Head Majhi. The meeting is fruitful and again we agree that the baby can receive medical treatment. Minutes later, a young sick woman arrives for treatment. In the first instance, we diagnose the woman as suffering from a severe depressive disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder. The woman’s husband was killed in front of her in Myanmar and she fled with her two-year-old child. Every day she feels dull and lethargic, and doesn’t feel like doing anything. We arrange longer-term support for the young woman at our larger field hospital. This woman is almost 10 years younger than me. I cannot imagine what such a young person has been through in such a short life. Her blank stare is void of emotion and it still haunts me when I think about the pain behind her eyes. Nothing prepared me for these camps. I have been living in a tent for two months. It’s the first time that I have ever lived in a tent and it still feels unreal. But it’s a world apart from the tiny makeshift homes that seem stacked on top of each other along steep hilly slopes. Privacy that we take for granted is unthinkable. Physical distance is near impossible. Every day our teams stream out along the maze of muddy paths investigating cases and encouraging people to stay safe, particularly contacts of COVID-positive people. So far, there have been just 78 confirmed COVID-19 cases. Tragically 6 lives have been lost due to this coronavirus, yet it’s a far cry from earlier projections that thousands of lives would be lost. Life here is harder than most can imagine. Yet I am struck by the strength and sheer resilience of people who get on with making the best of life for their children and those who are frail. I see proud people working hard to make their homes as comfortable as possible. Reinforcing flimsy houses. Making them safer from storms and monsoon rains. Community volunteers from the camps work alongside aid agencies to build their toilets and water wells. I am struck by the limited number of toilets often far from houses. There is no electricity except for on a few main streets, so women and children face harassment when they use a toilet in the dark nights. Life here seems unfair for everyone. Young children fetch water from wells. Pumping the wells and trekking with heavy water containers is hard work for the strongest of adults. In front of our field hospital, I notice two girls around 8-years-old, playing just outside the gate. I am amazed by the house they build out of sand and mud. The house has four separate rooms. I am sure any architect would be impressed with the perfect, straight walls. This model home is a dream for these children. Everyone here deserves to fulfill their dreams of a safer, better life. Dr Mumtaz Mohammed Hussain, is Acting Chief Medical Officer, COVID-19 Isolation and Treatment Centres, Bangladesh Red Crescent in the Cox’s Bazar camps, bordering Myanmar.

Read more
10/07/2020 | Press release

Red Cross Red Crescent alarmed at increase in migrant drownings in Mediterranean 

Beirut/Budapest/Geneva, 10 July 2020 – Red Crescent societies in Tunisia and Libya are seeing an increase in drownings on the shores of North Africa. Warmer weather and relaxed COVID-19 lockdowns are thought to be behind an increase in numbers of people attempting to cross the Mediterranean from North Africa to Europe. Many are not surviving the perilous journey, with 20 per cent more people estimated to have died in June this year as opposed to last year, according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM). IFRC President Francesco Rocca said: “While Red Cross volunteers in Italy support those who have managed to survive the crossing, unfortunately on the other side of the Mediterranean, both Libyan and Tunisian Red Crescent volunteers are left to collect the bodies of those who didn’t.” Libyan and Tunisian Red Crescent volunteers have the difficult task of finding the bodies of those who perish along the shoreline and transferring them with dignity to local hospitals. In the month of June alone, Red Crescent teams recovered 26 bodies in Libya and more than 30 in Tunisia. President Rocca said: “Each person who dies trying to cross that deadly stretch of water is more than just a statistic. They are someone who was full of hope for a better future, with family and friends who loved them, who likely faced countless hardships along the way only to have their life ended, we cannot forget this.” More than twice the number of people have arrived on the shores of Italy this year compared to the same time as last year, according to the UN. However, this does not paint the full picture of the situation. The Italian government has declared its ports unsafe since April due to COVID-19 and any disembarkation of migrants has either been prevented until they can be rerouted to other countries or has been substantially delayed. This results in migrants being left on board for long periods of time with limited access to health, protection or any other type of assistance. When they do arrive, Italian Red Cross volunteers are the first people they see, providing first aid and psychosocial support, facilitating quarantine measures and sharing information. “Year after year the crossings continue. Our fear is that the situation will only get worse, with the deepening economic crisis caused by COVID-19,” said President Rocca. “We know that migrants already struggle with a lack of access to healthcare and hygiene facilities. They are too scared to seek help when sick and it is almost impossible for them to keep a physical distance from others in crowded refugee camps. These can all be contributing factors to people making the decision to attempt the crossing.” Saving lives at sea and providing migrantswith effective opportunities to access assistance and protection are collective responsibilities. EU Member States cannot face this alone. Across the sea, North and Central African countries also should not be left alone: humanity and solidarity are the only answers.

Read more
06/07/2020 | Article

Call centre provides refugees in Turkey with vital information and support amid COVID-19

Seren Sabancı Keser, a 27-year-old call centre operator at Turkish Red Crescent, received a call from a refugee in need who could not go and receive his Kızılaykart (a prepaid debit card)– he was in hospital after showing COVID-19 symptoms. This debit card provides them with cash assistance to help meet their basic needs.This is just one of the many calls Seren has received over the past few months. Calls significantly increased after the COVID-19 pandemic was first confirmed in Turkey.“The numbers of call we received during the pandemic peaked in the past 3 months. Refugees have been affected socially, physically, financially, in every imaginable way, like the rest of the world. You understand the desperation of those who lost their jobs from their voice,” said Seren.Adapting to the COVID-19 response The Turkish Red Crescent call centre Seren works at has operators, speaking five different languages. She wears a headset microphone over her disposable face mask, offering support and information to the most vulnerable refugees in Turkey, the largest refugee-hosting country worldwide, amid strict measures taken against COVID-19. Seren responds to many calls from refugees receiving the EU-funded Emergency Social Safety Net (ESSN) cash assistance programme, jointly run by IFRC and Turkish Red Crescent. Shortly after the first COVID-19 case was reported in Turkey in mid-March, strict measures were introduced by the Turkish government in a bid to curb the spread of the pandemic in the country. Lockdown was introduced for those above 65 years and under 20 years old and inter-city travel restrictions and weekend curfews were imposed.Unlike many workplaces which had to stop their operations, the call centre quickly adapted by taking the necessary precautions. The workplace was immediately arranged to provide enough space between the desks according to social distance precautions, necessary protective equipment was provided, and alternative transportation choices were offered to the staff members.Seren underlined that the call centre played a key role in the lives of refugees when the pandemic first erupted in Turkey.“ As they can’t go out and everywhere is closed,” said Seren, adding that they never stopped receiving the calls.(Photo: Turkish Red Crescent)Growing humanitarian needs in the wake of COVID-19Most of the calls Seren has received from refugees relate to loss of jobs and difficulties in meeting their essential needs such as food, hygiene items, rent and bills.“Most of the times people calling are saying they lost their jobs and if there will be additional help – if there are any food or hygiene packages that will be provided,” she said.A rapid assessment conducted by IFRC and Turkish Red Crescent with those who receive support through the ESSN programme, found that COVID-19 has deeply impacted vulnerable refugees. Almost 70 per cent of refugees surveyed lost their jobs and 78 per cent faced an increase in their expenses, according to the report.Providing two-way communication with refugee families despite COVID-19Launched in November 2016, as a mechanism to enable two-way communication between humanitarian responders and affected communities, the call centre receives calls from refugees who benefit and want to benefit from ESSN. Apart from being the first responder to answer refugees’ questions and find solutions to refugees’ challenges, Seren and her colleagues also refer refugees to other types of assistance provided by Government Social Assistances Service and Turkish Red Crescent other units serving specific to refugees to ensure they get the support they need. Call centres also became a critical source of information on preventing and responding to COVID-19 cases. As part of steps to inform refugees about COVID-19, the call centre also replaced the call waiting tone with informative messages in five different languages, explaining hygiene rules and other kinds of preventive measures against the pandemic.“We encourage them to use masks all the time and refer to a medical institution or call the Ministry of Health hotline if they were in touch with a COVID-19 patient,” she said.This is not the first time Seren has worked with refugees. Thanks to her Arabic language skills and due to her calling to help others, she has been supporting refugees since the start of the Syrian refugee exodus.Seren says her work can be tiring as her thoughts don’t stop when she goes home in the evening. The possibility of helping more people is always in the back of her mind.“When we are having a busy day, the only thing in my mind is how I can receive more calls, help more people immediately,” Seren said. “Because there are many refugees in need of support.”This article covers humanitarian aid activities implemented with the financial assistance of the European Union. The views expressed herein should not be taken, in any way, to reflect the official opinion of the European Union, and the European Commission is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information it contains.

Read more
01/07/2020 | Article

“Volunteering saved my life”

By Georgia Trismpioti, IFRCJack is an Iranian engineer living in Greece. Back home in Tehran he owned his own construction company and was surrounded by a close-knit group of friends, colleagues and family. But that all changed one day.“I had to leave Tehran because my life was in danger. It was a difficult and horrible experience having to make the journey to Greece,” Jack says.“No one can imagine what it’s like being forced to leave your home, fearful for your life, unless they’ve been through it. I miss my friends and family, my job and the life I had.”Life wasn’t easy when he first arrived in Greece. He was homeless and destitute. But determined to rebuild his life from scratch, he kept his spirits up by working as a volunteer for various charities in Thessaloniki.“Volunteering saved my live. Without it I would have lost the will to live,” he says quietly.Two months after arriving in Greece, Jack managed to enrol in the cash assistance programme run by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).“That money gave me hope. The first thing I bought was a tent. Until then, I was sleeping rough in Diavata Camp,” says Jack with a bittersweet smile.Sometime later he started working as a volunteer for the IFRC. He helps other asylum seekers navigate the Greek system and boost their self-confidence and resilience. ''We are asylum seekers but we can also have achievements.''Then in November 2019 Jack successfully applied for the position of the Cultural Mediator with IFRC. Being an asylum seeker himself helps him understand better than anyone the everyday challenges people face.Now he’s waiting for a decision on his own asylum application, so he can pursue his dream of practising as an engineer in Greece.“Greece gave me protection, so Greece is like my home now. There is no word that can describe what that feeling is like,” he smiles. “Greece has given me freedom and safety.”

Read more
28/04/2020 | Article

5 ways that cash assistance has transformed humanitarian response to refugees in Turkey

Many people affected by humanitarian crises think their priority needs are not being met by humanitarian aid.Cash assistance is one critical approach that is helping responders better put the needs and capacities of affected people at the heart of humanitarian action. For the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, it has become an integral part of our work.Most recently, with funding from the European Union, the Turkish Red Crescent and IFRC are implementing a unique cash-assistance programme in Turkey. It enables more than 1.7 million most vulnerable refugees to meet their basic needs and rebuild their lives. The Emergency Social Safety Net (ESSN) programme provides a blueprint for how cash assistance can be better used in the future.1 - It is people-centred(Photo: Turkish Red Crescent)According to a Ground Truth Solutions survey, almost half of the Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh sold in-kind assistance offered to them so that they could use the money to purchase goods and services they need.Cash puts an end to aid being limited to the goods and services that humanitarian organizations deliver and gives people the freedom to spend the cash on what they need most.Providing affected populations with cash means more than addressing their true needs, it also means dignity. Having an option to buy the things they need in a shop rather than waiting in a queue for goods also gives the aid recipients a sense of normality that has been lacking from their lives due to conflict.“The cash assistance is granting us freedom of choice and returning a degree of dignity to our lives.” - A refugee receiving cash support from ESSN (WFP report from 2018).Cash assistance also offers them the most important opportunity, having control over their own recovery. Refugees who take ESSN cash assistance are less likely to consult to negative coping strategies like reducing the quality and quantity of the food consumption, getting into debt and taking their children out of school.2 - It’s more cost-effective and can ultimately, reach more people(Photo: Turkish Red Crescent)Delivering cash assistance often costs less than delivering in-kind assistance thus reaching more people in need. How much money is required to manage an operation? How much money is required to transport and store aid in a warehouse?By taking advantage of digital payment systems (like debit cards and SMS) cash-based assistance can greatly reduce costs spent on logistics, transportation and human resources.Compared to the previous humanitarian basic needs assistance provided, the ESSN resulted in significant reductions in administrative costs, leading to at least 90 per cent of all ESSN funding going into the hands of those in need and reaching as many as 1.7 million people.3 - It empowers local economies and communities (Photo: WFP)Supporting people in need with cash also means supporting the host population. As the migration deeply affects those seeking safety, it also creates a completely new situation for the hosting community.Use of cash-based assistance can help people in need to support local markets. This can greatly reduce possible tensions, increase support for humanitarian aid from locals and spark the first steps of integration.Although there is room for development, the ESSN has the potential to influence social cohesion between refugees and host communities, according to a WFP study. About half of the refugees who attended focus group discussions said that they had established good relations with their Turkish neighbours.4 - It is easy to deliver(Photo: Turkish Red Crescent)Conflicts, natural disasters or health emergencies - each bring with them difficult conditions to work in, including challenges in access. If markets are not too weak or supply is sufficient, cash enables assistance to vulnerable people in extraordinary times.Operating under the current conditions of COVID-19 poses many challenges, particularly with restricted or forbidden movement of goods and resources. Sending cash to refugees digitally limits the risk of infection to those we serve as well as host communities and our frontline workers.5 - It enables a more effective, efficient, and transparent humanitarian sector(Photo: Turkish Red Crescent)Cash assistance ensures humanitarian organizations are more accountable to both donors and affected people. It increases the transparency of operations by showing how much aid actually reaches the target population. It also addresses people’s true needs as it gives them the ability to decide what they require.In April, Turkish Red Crescent’s ESSN hotline answered 1.2 million calls, sent more than 1.3 million SMSs and reached out to more than 85,000 refugees thorough its multilingual Facebook page. ESSN monitoring data indicates that the awareness amongst refugees of the ESSN and its application procedures is very high and only a small proportion of refugees lack information on the ESSN at any point in time.The use of easily verifiable demographic criteria satisfies the donors need for transparency and accountability, while also ensuring that refugees themselves have full information on why they are (not) included in the ESSN program.---As ESSN’s unique approach and scale shows cash is people-centric, makes the most out of limited budgets, increases the speed and flexibility of the humanitarian response, improves local economies, reaches the most vulnerable even in insecure environments and enables us all to be more accountable to the people we serve.Cash doesn’t replace all humanitarian services. However, under the right circumstances, cash offers a massive opportunity for us to put communities’ at the centre of our response.This article covers humanitarian aid activities implemented with the financial assistance of the European Union. The views expressed herein should not be taken, in any way, to reflect the official opinion of the European Union, and the European Commission is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information it contains.

Read more
03/03/2020 | Press release

Greece-Turkey Border: Migrants must not be used as a political tool. The EU and Member States must act in solidarity now.

Geneva/Budapest, 3 March 2020 – Women, children and men caught up in the ongoing humanitarian crisis at the land border between Greece and Turkey, in the Greek islands and in the Aegean Sea must not be “used as a political tool”, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) warned today.Speaking of the deteriorating humanitarian situation, IFRC President Francesco Rocca said: “It is unacceptable that children and families are exposed to tear gas and violence or have to risk their lives in the Aegean Sea. We will not be silent in the face of this dire humanitarian situation, which may become even worse in the next hours and days.”The IFRC is deeply concerned that thousands of people, including vulnerable children, may suffer the consequences of the recent surge of migrants trying to cross the border between Turkey and Greece. While Governments have the right and responsibility to set migration policies and to control their own borders, steps should be taken to ensure the implementation of such policies do not increase suffering.“EU Member States should respond in a spirit of solidarity to the recent increase in numbers of people seeking refuge at the EU’s external borders. They must enact their responsibilities in protecting people and saving lives. EU governments cannot turn their backs on Turkey and Greece. Southern European States cannot be left alone. All States have a responsibility to protect people and save lives,” President Rocca said.“We call on the EU and the national Governments to avoid using migrants as a political tool, to ensure that asylum seekers can apply for international protection, in line with international and EU laws.  Access to humanitarian assistance and essential services, including healthcare, ought to be guaranteed for all people, in particular children and other vulnerable groups,” he ended.

Read more
28/11/2019 | Article

Refugee footballers score integration goals with Italian Red Cross

By Mark Richard South, IFRCCapitalising on the global popularity of football, the Italian Red Cross are using the sport as a vehicle to support the integration of asylum seekers and refugees.Founding a team as part of the AVAIL project, the scheme has seen a squad of 25 asylum seekers hosted at the Bresso reception centre, training together and entering tournaments and leagues alongside local teams in their host community.“Football is so popular here in Italy, and in many of the countries refugees are coming from, so it was a natural fit when we were looking for activities that could bring refugees and people from host communities together,” said Monica D’Alò, AVAIL project manager with the Italian Red Cross.“It provides some normality and a bit of an escape from everyday life for the refugee players, but is also an opportunity for them to get to know people from the local community, and for the local community to get to know them, see their skills, and realise they are not so different from each other - they all love football.”Alongside organising and equipping the team, an information campaign has also been rolled out to raise awareness about the squad and their goal of building relationships between refugee and host communities.The team has also joined up with local footballers with learning difficulties, joining a recent tournament together and forming mixed teams so everyone could play, creating a positive narrative around diversity and promoting mutual respect.“So far the team is going really well, everyone’s enjoying playing, local teams have been really welcoming, and we have more games and tournaments planned for next year,” added D’Alò.

Read more
28/11/2019 | Article

Italian Red Cross refugee radio show takes to the web-waves

By Mark Richard South, IFRCTaking their project aim of “amplifying the voices of asylum seekers and refugees” as literally as they could, the Italian Red Cross is doing exactly that with a new web radio show.Written, presented and produced by Gerald Mballe, an Italian Red Cross cultural mediator who has a refugee background himself, the show collects stories from around the country – sharing the voices of asylum seekers and refugees in Italy, but also the experiences and views of people in the host communities they have arrived in to.“We want the radio show to be a place where everyone can share their stories and gain practical information and news,” explained Gerald.Supported by a radio technician with more than 20 years’ experience, Gerald and his team are aiming to have nearly 50 bite-sized episodes available for streaming or download by the time the AVAIL project ends in early 2020, but now they are up and running they aim to continue producing the show beyond the end of AVAIL and into the future.Hosted on the Italian Red Cross website, the Italian-language shows are available to listeners throughout Italy and around the world, giving a glimpse into the lives of asylum seekers and refugees and the communities where they are living - with a particular focus on Red Cross activities bringing people together by supporting both refugee and host communities.“The team have been really dedicated to getting the radio show up and running and it’s something we’re all really proud of,” added Monica D’Alò, AVAIL project manager with the Italian Red Cross.“We’ll be getting stories from people all around the country, including from our staff and volunteers, so this can be a really valuable resource for us as a National Society, not just for AVAIL but into the future as well.”

Read more
12/11/2019 | Article

British Red Cross encourages language learning with refugee teachers

By Mark Richard South, IFRCGetting people talking, that’s the aim of a new partnership which has seen the British Red Cross team-up with a refugee-led language learning start-up. As part of the AVAIL project, the British Red Cross is working together with Chatterbox to connect language learners with teachers coming from refugee backgrounds.Through the Chatterbox platform, language learners can pick from more than ten languages – including Arabic, Persian, French, Spanish and Mandarin Chinese - to learn and practice online with trained native speakers.“Too often the skills of people who are refugees go unrecognised and unused when they arrive in a safe country,” explained Fiona Harvey from the British Red Cross. “Working with Chatterbox we are recognising people’s skills, helping show that the talents refugees arrive with are an opportunity we can all benefit from, and also strengthening connections between refugees and people in their new communities.”As well as tapping into existing skills and providing a flexible option for employment – often a challenge for refugees arriving in the UK – Chatterbox also provides an opportunity for refugees and language learners to interact and know more about each other, and each other’s cultures, in a natural environment.The project is also helping key workers – such as police officers and health workers - to learn languages commonly spoken by refugees.Supporting the development of these language skills not only benefits the learners in their day jobs, but also makes services more accessible to refugees more widely, and enhances the value of refugee languages in the workplace - further contributing to overall integration and understanding.“Getting people communicating, understanding and empathising with each other is a key part of integration,” added Harvey. “Whether it’s online or in person, simply chatting together really can make a world of difference.”

Read more
05/11/2019 | Article

Irish and Latvian Red Cross “buddies” are supporting the integration of refugees

By Mark Richard South, IFRCWith the aim of promoting mutual understanding, social inclusion, and ultimately successful integration, the two Red Cross Societies are working through the AVAIL project to match up new arrivals with local “buddies”.“In the wake of the refugee crisis there was a spontaneous upsurge of public support towards refugees in Ireland,” said Susanna Cunningham, manager of the AVAIL project with the Irish Red Cross.“Buddying is a great way to harness that goodwill and help local communities get to know and welcome refugees and asylum seekers better as individuals.”The buddies are volunteers drawn from the local community able to provide practical and emotional support, as well as opening doors to local networks, to help people ease their way into the new culture, society and communityMatching partners based on location, gender, age and shared interests, ensures refugees and asylum seekers and their buddies have common ground from which to build, and means people have at least one person they know as they settle into their new community.“In Latvia, there are not really established communities of refugees or asylum seekers, so buddies play a really important role helping people to settle,” said Agnese Trofimova, AVAIL manager for the Latvian Red Cross.“The culture, society, and language here are so different from what people might be used to, buddies are a vital link to the new communities people find themselves in.”As well as being hugely useful in helping with basic practical issues and local knowledge – things like how to open a bank account, where to access adult education, what are the best local transport routes – buddies also provide an opportunity for people to practice their language skills, as well as offering friendship.By spending time with buddies, refugees and asylum seekers themselves get to understand more about local culture and society, but also give buddies and the local community a chance to gain a greater understanding of refugees and asylum seekers as people: the cultures they have come from, the journeys they have made, the challenges they have overcome, and how they can contribute to the community and wider society in their new country.

Read more