| Press release
Philippines: New data reveals Typhoon Rai wrecked 1.5 million houses
Kuala Lumpur/Manila, 25 January 2022 – New assessments reveal the full extent of Super Typhoon Rai’s devastation when it slammed into the Philippines a little over a month ago, with the storm destroying or damaging a staggering 1.5 million houses, more than any other typhoon in recent decades.
Philippine Red Cross is ramping up its shelter support by transporting table saws, chainsaws and generators to areas hardest hit by the typhoon, including Cebu, Bohol, Palawan, Siargao and Dinagat islands.
The equipment is enabling Red Cross carpenters and trained volunteers to transform millions of fallen coconut trees into coco lumber to rebuild safer and stronger homes in the worst-affected areas.
Carpenters are training local people in safer house construction, to provide vital wages for families who lost their livelihoods, including the agricultural and fishing equipment they relied upon to earn an income.
Philippine Red Cross Chairman Richard Gordon said:
“This is a much bigger disaster than the world realised a month ago. People who relied on farming, fishing and tourism can’t earn an income now. Millions of people don’t have a roof over their heads.
"Red Cross is supporting 30,000 families with roofing materials like corrugated iron sheets and tarpaulins to protect them from the sun and rain, but we need greater international support to meet the enormous need for safer and stronger homes for millions of people.
“The typhoon comes in the middle of a pandemic and a political campaign, which draw attention away from what truly is a catastrophe. This must not become forgotten tomorrow morning.”
IFRC Head of Philippine Country Office Alberto Bocanegra said:
“It’s a little over one month since Typhoon Rai slammed into the Philippines, yet millions of people still urgently need humanitarian support, including homes, clean water supplies and healthcare.
“Assessment data reveals that this Super Typhoon has caused enormous devastation, destroying or damaging more homes than any storm in recent decades.
“Filipinos are tough, and they are rebuilding, with support from Philippine Red Cross and other agencies, but more must be done to help people rebuild their shattered homes.”
Philippine Red Cross has been on the ground since the super typhoon hit and has already reached 36,000 people with emergency shelter support, including toolkits, construction materials and tarpaulins to help people set up temporary shelters and start rebuilding. Emergency teams are providing kitchen sets, sleeping kits, pillows, mattresses, bedsheets, blankets and clothing.
Longer-term support is required to enable families to rebuild their homes safely, particularly those in vulnerable circumstances, living on isolated islands and in remote or hard to reach areas.
IFRC co-leads the Shelter Cluster Philippines with the Government of the Philippines to assess the typhoon’s impact on households, coordinating and prioritising emergency shelter work with all partners.
The International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is appealing for CHF 20 million to support more than 400,000 people over 24 months. A top priority includes assisting people to rebuild safer shelters, including emergency housing materials and essential items, replacement of destroyed houses, and legal support on housing, land and property issues.
For more information, contact: IFRC Asia Pacific Office: Antony Balmain, +60 12 230 845, [email protected]
IFRC Philippine Delegation: Karina Coates, +61 (0) 404 086 006, [email protected]
| Press release
More than 139 million people hit by climate crisis and COVID-19, new IFRC analysis reveals
New York, Geneva, 16 September 2021 – Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, climate-related disasters have affected the lives of at least 139.2 million people and killed more than 17,242.
This is the finding of a new analysis published today by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and the Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre, on the compound impacts of extreme-weather events and COVID-19. A further estimated 658.1 million vulnerable people have been exposed to extreme temperatures. Through new data and specific case studies, the report shows how people across the world are facing multiple crises and coping with overlapping vulnerabilities.
The paper also highlights the need of addressing both crises simultaneously as the COVID-19 pandemic has affected livelihoods across the world and has made communities more vulnerable to climate risks.
The IFRC President, Francesco Rocca, who today presented the new report at a press conference in New York, said: “The world is facing an unprecedented humanitarian crisis where the climate change and COVID-19 are pushing communities to their limits. In the lead up to COP26, we urge world leaders to take immediate action not only to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but also to address the existent and imminent humanitarian impacts of climate change”.
The report comes a year after an initial analysisof the overlapping risks of extreme-weather events that have occurred during the COVID-19 crisis. The pandemic continues to wreak havoc, with direct health impacts for millions of people around the world, but also a massive indirect impact, in part due to the response measures implemented to contain the pandemic. Food insecurity caused by weather extremes has been aggravated by COVID-19. Health systems are pushed to their limits and the most vulnerable have been the most exposed to overlapping shocks.
In Afghanistan, the impacts of the extreme drought are compounded by conflict and COVID-19. The drought has crippled agricultural food production and diminished livestock, leaving millions of people hungry and malnourished. The Afghan Red Crescent Society has ramped up relief, including food and cash assistance for people to buy food supplies, plant drought-resistant food crops and protect their livestock.
In Honduras, responding to hurricanes Eta and Iota during the pandemic, also meant additional challenges. Thousands of people became homeless in temporary shelters. Anti-COVID-19 measures in those shelters required physical distancing and other protective measures, which limited capacity.
In Kenya, the impacts of COVID-19 are colliding with floods in one year and droughts in the next, as well as a locust infestation. Over 2.1 million people are facing acute food insecurity in rural and urban areas. In the country and across East Africa, the COVID-19 restrictions slowed down the flood response and outreach to affected populations increasing their vulnerabilities.
Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies around the globe are not only responding to those overlapping crises but also helping communities to prepare and anticipate climate risks.
In Bangladesh for instance, the Red Crescent Society has used IFRC’s designated funds for anticipatory action to disseminate flood related Early Warning Messages through loudspeakers in vulnerable areas so people can take the necessary measures or evacuate if necessary.
Julie Arrighi, associate director at the RCRC Climate Center said: “Hazards do not need to become disasters. We can counter the trend of rising risks and save lives if we change how we anticipate crises, fund early action and risk reduction at the local level. Finally, we need to help communities become more resilient, especially in the most vulnerable contexts.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a lasting impact on climate risks. Governments need to commit to investing in community adaptation, anticipation systems and local actors.
“The massive spending in COVID-19 recovery proves that governments can act fast and drastically in the face of global threats. It is time to turn words into action and devote the same energy to the climate crisis. Every day, we are witnessing the impact of human-made climate change. The climate crisis is here, and we need to act now,” Rocca said.
Download the paper:The compound impact of extreme weather events and COVID-19
For more information or to arrange an interview, contact:
Tommaso Della Longa, +41 79 708 43 67, [email protected]
Marie Claudet, +33 786 89 50 89 , [email protected]
| Press release
Climate change: New report shows global response is failing people in greatest need
Geneva, 17 November 2020 – Global efforts to tackle climate change are currently failing to protect the people who are most at risk, according to new analysis by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).
IFRC’s World Disasters Report 2020: Come Heat or High Water shows that the countries most affected by climate-related disasters receive only a fraction of the funding that is available for climate change adaptation and thus struggle to protect people from the aggravating effects of climate change.
IFRC's Secretary General Jagan Chapagain said:
“Our first responsibility is to protect communities that are most exposed and vulnerable to climate risks.
“However, our research demonstrates that the world is collectively failing to do this. There is a clear disconnection between where the climate risk is greatest and where climate adaptation funding goes. This disconnection could very well cost lives.”
The failure to protect the people most vulnerable to climate change is especially alarming given the steady increase in the number of climate and weather-related disasters. According to the World Disasters Report, the average number of climate and weather-related disasters per decade has increased nearly 35 per cent since the 1990s.
Over the past decade, 83 per cent of all disasters were caused by extreme weather and climate-related events such as floods, storms, and heatwaves. Together, these disasters killed more than 410,000 people and affected a staggering 1.7 billion people.
The World Disasters Report also argues that the massive stimulus packages that are currently being developed around the world in response to the COVID-19 pandemic are an opportunity to address and reduce climate vulnerability. A recovery that protects people and the planet would not only help to reduce today’s risks but would also make communities safer and more resilient to future disasters.
Smart financing – with a focus on early warning and anticipatory action to reduce risks and prevent disasters before they happen – and risk reduction measures would both play a major role in protecting the most exposed communities.
Mr Chapagain said: “Climate adaptation work can’t take a back seat while the world is preoccupied with the pandemic: the two crises have to be tackled together.
“These disasters are already on the doorstep in every country around the world. We must significantly scale up investment in climate smart actions that strengthens risk reduction and preparedness, alongside climate-smart laws and policies.
“With challenges like these, international solidarity is not only a moral responsibility, but also the smart thing to do. Investing in resilience in the most vulnerable places is more cost-effective than to accept continued increases in the cost of humanitarian response, and contributes to a safer, more prosperous and sustainable world for everyone."
The World Disasters Report 2020: Come Heat or High Water can be downloaded at https://www.ifrc.org/document/world-disasters-report-2020
| Press release
Red Cross calls on people to check on neighbours and loved ones during dangerous heatwave
Budapest/Geneva, 29 July 2020 – As temperatures soar across Europe, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is calling on the public to check on neighbours and loved ones who might struggle to cope with the searing heat.
According to European meteorological offices, France, Greece, Italy, Spain, Switzerland, and Romania can expect temperatures in the mid to high 30s during the week., with Paris and Madrid forecast to reach around 40°C on Friday.
To prevent loss of life, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is urging people to check in on their vulnerable neighbours, relatives and friends while following COVID-19 safety measures.
IFRC’s acting health coordinator for Europe, Dr Aneta Trgachevska, said: “Some older people are unable to spend on things like air conditioning. They may be socially isolated. When coupled with thermoregulation problems, reduced water intake and physical ability and chronic diseases, there could potentially be a large at-risk group.”
IFRC is also concerned about the potential compounding impact of COVID-19 during this period of soaring temperatures, said Dr Trgachevska:
“Managing the impact of heat and COVID-19 at the same time poses a challenge to frontline workers, health care systems and local communities. The spread of COVID-19 will not stop in summer. On the contrary, it increases the risk of extreme heat by compromising our usual coping strategies.”
People who would usually visit public places like parks, libraries and shopping malls to find refuge from the heat may be reluctant to leave their homes due to fear of infection. For the same reason, some may be afraid to seek medical care for heat stroke.
“While self-isolation is advisable for vulnerable people during a pandemic, during a heatwave it could be life-threatening, especially for people living alone without home cooling systems. To make sure our loved ones and neighbours stay safe, we should check on them daily via phone or video calls. If you need to physically help someone, make sure to follow hygiene rules, such as wearing a mask and washing your hands upon entering someone’s home,” explains Dr. Trgachevska.
People who are most vulnerable to heat stress are also those most at risk of COVID-19, including people older than 65, pregnant women, those with underlying health conditions, prisoners and marginalized groups such as homeless people and migrants. Due to the pandemic, health workers and first responders are also more prone to heat stress as they need to wear personal protective equipment.
Across Europe, Red Cross and Red Crescent volunteers and staff are on high alert to support communities during summer. The Austrian Red Cross operates cooling centres in malls. It also has a mobile app to help people stay safe with a real time heat map and list of cool public places. In Spain, Red Cross volunteers are helping people with disabilities to enjoy a dip in the sea.
In Monaco, volunteers are regularly checking in on isolated older people via daily phone calls or physically distanced home visits, and in the Netherlands, they go door-to-door to distribute life-saving information. In several other countries, including Italy and the UK, Red Cross teams are reaching out to vulnerable groups to inform them on how to stay protected from both the heat and COVID-19.
Heatwaves can have a catastrophic human toll. In 2003 an estimated 70,000 people died during a record-breaking heatwave in Europe. Climate change is projected to increase the frequency and intensity of heatwaves globally.
Some tips to stay cool and safe:
Close drapes and shutters during the hottest parts of the day to reduce direct sun exposure
When it’s cooler outside, open windows on opposite sides of the building to create a cross-breeze
Avoid cooking food indoors during the hottest hours of the day
Unplug large electronic devices that produce heat
Use an electric fan and set a bowl of cold water or ice in front to create a cold breeze
Wear lightweight, light-coloured and loose-fitting clothes
Avoid exercise and strenuous activities during the hottest hours of the day
Drink plenty of cool water, avoid alcohol and caffeine
Some medicines may reduce tolerance to heat. Get medical advice if you are suffering from a chronic medical condition or taking multiple medications.
Stay connected, listen to the weather forecast and adapt your plans if necessary
Follow social distancing guidance when using shared outdoor spaces such as parks and beaches
Ask for medical help in case of signs of heat-related illness.
Download the heatwave guide developed by the Red Cross Red Crescent climate centre
| Press release
MEDIA ADVISORY: Europe heatwave - Red Cross experts available
Geneva, 22 July 2019 – Red Cross climate experts are available to discuss the potential humanitarian impact of this week’s European heatwave, as well as the simple and affordable steps that can be taken to protect lives.
Temperatures are expected to climb to record levels over the coming days, placing huge pressure on health and social welfare systems across the continent, and potentially threatening the lives and well-being of vulnerable people.
Red Cross experts can highlight some of the concrete measures that individuals and authorities can take to reduce the potential humanitarian impact of the heatwave. They can also discuss the clear links between climate change and heatwaves and share findings from the Red Cross’ recently released Heatwave Guide for Cities.
Available experts include:
In New York: Julie Arrighi, Red Cross climate expert and one of the authors of the Heatwave Guide for Cities.
In Geneva: Tessa Kelly, Climate Change Coordinator, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).
| Press release
Heatwaves: urgent action needed to tackle climate change’s “silent killer”
New York, 16 July 2019 – A new resource launched today in New York will help cities prepare for heatwaves – extreme weather events that are among the world’s deadliest types of natural hazard.
Speaking at UN headquarters in New York, the President of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), Francesco Rocca, said:
“Heatwaves are one of the deadliest natural hazards facing humanity, and the threat they pose will only become more serious and more widespread as the climate crisis continues.
“However, the good news is that heatwaves are also predictable and preventable. The actions that authorities can take to save lives and significantly reduce suffering are simple and affordable.”
The new Heatwave Guide for Cities from the Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre offers urban planners and city authorities an authoritative summary of the actions they can take to reduce the danger of heatwaves, which are defined as a period of time when temperatures, or temperature in combination with other factors, are unusually high and hazardous to human health and well-being.
Seventeen of the 18 warmest years in the global temperature record have occurred since 2001. Several serious heatwaves have killed tens of thousands of people worldwide during this period, including the 2015 heatwave in India that killed around 2,500 people, and the 2003 heatwave across Europe that lead to more than 70,000 deaths.
The people at greatest risk of heatwaves tend to be those with pre-existing vulnerabilities, including elderly people, very young children, pregnant women, those with medical conditions, and people who are socially isolated.
“Heatwaves are silent killers because they take the lives of people who are already vulnerable,” said Rocca. “It’s vital that everyone knows how to prepare for them and limit their impact.”
Around 5 billion people live in regions where extreme heat can be predicted days or weeks in advance.
Examples of the actions that cities can take include establishing systems to warn people ahead of anticipated periods of extreme heat; strengthening health systems to reduce the risk of them being overwhelmed during a heat crisis; conducting community awareness campaigns; establishing cooling centres/telephone helplines for vulnerable people in need of help, treatment and support; and “greening” cities and urban centres, for example by planting trees, protecting open green spaces, and introducing car-free zones.
The influence of climate change on heat extremes was evident again in Europe in June when cities across the west of the continent recorded record temperatures – an event that scientists believe was made at least five times more likely by climate change.
Note to editors
The Heatwave Guide for Cities has been produced by the Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre in collaboration with more than 25 partner institutions including ICLEI, Arizona State University, Met Office, John Hopkins University, USAID, International Research Institute for Climate and Society, the World Meteorological Organization and World Health Organization Joint Office for Climate and Health, Thomson Reuters Foundation and the cities of Cape Town, Kampala, Entebbe, Ekurhuleni and Phoenix. It can be downloaded here.
| Press release
Red Cross urges public to check on neighbours as Europe braces for heatwave
Budapest/Geneva, 25 June 2019 – The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is calling on people to check on vulnerable neighbours, relatives and friends as Western Europe readies itself for possible record high temperatures.
According to European meteorological offices, Belgium, France, Germany, Spain, Hungary and Switzerland can expect temperatures in the mid to high-30s during the week, with temperatures potentially climbing to 40°C in Paris on Thursday (27 June).
IFRC’s Europe Region health coordinator Dr Davron Mukhamadiev said:
“The coming days will be challenging for a lot of people, but especially older people, young children, and people with underlying illnesses or limited mobility.
“Our message this week is simple: look after yourself, your family and your neighbours. A phone call or a knock on the door could save a life.”
Across Western Europe, Red Cross staff and volunteers are on high alert. In France, volunteers are patrolling the streets, providing water and hygiene kits and visiting isolated and older people in their homes.
“If necessary, the emergency operations centre at our headquarters can be opened to coordinate the response to this emergency,” said French Red Cross spokesperson Alain Rissetto.
In Spain, 50 staff in the Red Cross operations centre are currently calling vulnerable and older people to check they are safe and to give advice on how to cope with the heat. And in Belgium volunteers are distributing water and checking on older community members.
Climate change is projected to increase the frequency and intensity of heat extremes globally, underscoring the urgent need to manage heatwave risks effectively and to prevent avoidable strain being put on already stretched health care services. The risks are particularly high in cities, where the impacts can be most severe.
Heatwaves can have a catastrophic human toll. In 2003, for example, an estimated 70,000 people died during a record-breaking heatwave in Europe.
Next month, IFRC and the Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre will launch new guidelines designed to help cities better support their vulnerable residents during heatwaves.
| Press release
Pakistan: “Alarmingly high” rates of disease and malnutrition in drought-affected areas
Islamabad/Geneva, 1 March 2019 – Women and children affected by one of the worst droughts in Pakistan’s recent history are now also at risk from disease and malnutrition, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) warned today.Communities in the worst-affected areas of the southern Sindh and Balochistan provinces have so little access to nutritional food and safe water that many are forced to drink saline or get water from contaminated sites. As a result, many people – particularly children, and women who are pregnant or lactating – are suffering from diarrhoea, vomiting and fever, which is leading to widespread malnutrition. Women and children are at the highest risk, as men are able to work in towns where there is a wider choice of foods and access to clean drinking water.IFRC’s head of country office Dr Thomas Gurtner described the rates of malnutrition and disease as “alarmingly high” and said the organisation was ramping up its support to the Pakistan Red Crescent Society volunteers and staff on the ground.“IFRC has released 315,000 Swiss francs of emergency funds to enable the Pakistan Red Crescent to meet the needs 15,000 of the most vulnerable people threatened by disease and drought,” he said.“This will allow the Red Crescent to improve access to safe drinking water through solar boreholes, storage facilities, improved water treatment and other services, while the most vulnerable people receive cash transfers that give them full control of providing for their families.”An estimated five million people are affected by the drought, which was caused by unseasonably high temperatures and below average monsoonal rainfall, both of which are influenced by El Niño. The water table has dropped in most valleys and low-lying areas, and food production in the affected areas has dropped by 34 per cent. The Pakistan Meteorological Department forecasts that the situation will continue to deteriorate over the coming four years, in part due to climate change.
Forecast-based Financing: Early Action Protocol in place to protect Peru’s alpaca herders
The Red Cross and Red Crescent’s first ever Early Action Protocol funded by IFRC’sForecast-based Action by the DREF – which will useforecast-based financingto support herder families in the high Andes region of Peru – is now in place and ready for activation.
The protocol is designed to help herder families to protect their lives and livelihoods during periods of extreme cold weather. The early action will be activated based on a five-day climate forecast, which will give the Peruvian Red Cross a period of four days to act before the start of an extreme cold wave.
This EAP was developed by the Peruvian Red Cross with support from the German Red Cross, the German Foreign Office, IFRC and the Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre, and is designed to shift humanitarian action from response to anticipation – a shift that could save lives and dramatically reduce costs compared to traditional emergency relief.
| Press release
IPCC report: Climate change already making humanitarian work harder, less predictable, more complex, says IFRC
Geneva, 8 October 2018 –Climate change is already making emergency response efforts around the world more difficult, more unpredictable and more complex, according to the world’s largest humanitarian network.
This warning from the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) coincides with the launch of a UN Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change (IPCC) report that sets out the predicted impacts of both a 1.5°C and a 2.0°C rise in the global average temperature by 2099.
IFRC President Francesco Rocca said: “More than half of our operations are now in direct response to weather-related events, and many others are compounded by climate shocks and stresses. If this is the situation now, then it is difficult to comprehend the scale of crises confronting vulnerable communities in a world that is 1.5°C or 2.0°C hotter.”
In 2017, IFRC and the global Red Cross and Red Crescent network responded to over 110 emergencies, reaching more than 8 million people. More than half of these were in response to weather-related events.
National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies are also bearing witness to rising climate displacement. Weather-related events displaced 23.5 million people in 2016, according to the World Meteorological Organization.
Mr Rocca said: “In a 1.5°C-warmer world, more extreme-weather events will affect everyone. But it will be especially cruel for communities that are already struggling to survive because of conflict, insecurity or poverty.
“We are already working with some of these communities to help them anticipate and adapt to what might be to come. These efforts need to increase significantly. A higher proportion of global climate finance needs to be dedicated to helping these communities adapt to changing risks. Currently, not event 10 per cent of funding does this.”
Dr Maarten van Aalst, a climate scientist and director of the Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre based in The Hague, added: “Climate remains at the centre of the international agenda. In 2018, we have seen lethal heatwaves and wildfires across the Northern Hemisphere, including in unexpected places like eastern Canada, Japan and Sweden. A rapid analysis in July by an international group of climate scientists showed that in some European locations climate change made the heatwave at least twice as likely.”
Today’s IPCC report sets the scene for COP 24 which opens in Katowice, Poland on 3 December. Mr Rocca said: “COP 24 must deliver a rigorous rule book for how to implement the Paris Agreement. No one can afford half measures; our future existence depends upon it.
“IFRC welcomes this IPCC report. We hope this leads to action. Millions of lives – and billions of dollars of disaster response – are at stake.”