Türkiye

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| Press release

Türkiye-Syria Earthquakes: IFRC highlights critical funding shortfall in recovery efforts

Geneva/Ankara/Damascus, 5 February 2024: Marking one year since the catastrophic earthquakes that devastated Türkiye and Syria, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) today calls for renewed solidarity to meet pressing humanitarian and recovery needs, highlighting a critical funding shortfall in its ongoing humanitarian response.Despite reaching 14 million earthquake-affected people (10.5 million in Türkiye and 3.5 million in Syria) through the tireless efforts of 80,000 volunteers, the IFRCEmergency Appealsstill face alarmingfunding gaps:65% for Türkiye and 43% for Syria. One year on, the needs of those affected byone of the century's deadliest natural disasters remain persistent. The earthquakes, which claimed over 55,000 lives, have had devastating impacts on people’s lives.One year on, Türkiye is on the slow road to recovery, but communities in Syria are struggling to rebuild their lives.Jessie Thomson, Head of IFRC Delegation in Türkiye, said:“Nowis not the time to scale down. In fact, we need to redouble our efforts. Despite important steps forward, the long road to recovery remains. The affected people now require support in rebuilding their businesses, recovering their lost livelihoods, and beginning the slow journey back to normalcy.”In Türkiye, the Turkish Red Crescenthas been instrumental in providing daily necessities, includingover 426 million hot meals and free medical servicesviamobile health clinics. Furthermore, througha cash relief program supported by the IFRCnetwork and international partners, over460,000 familieshave received cash to meet their basic needs. Notably, this program has also extended support tosmall businesses and farmers, while over207,000 peoplehavereceived psychosocial support.In Syria, many affected people were already living in a dire situation, due to over 13 years of instability and conflict. Most cities are still in ruins and basic infrastructure is severely damaged.Mads Brinch Hansen, Head of IFRC Delegation in Syria, said:“Our collective efforts withthe Syrian Arab Red Crescenthas been pivotal in reaching over 3.5 million people. Yet, the scale of needs remains immense in Syria, with millionsstill grappling withextreme poverty and the daunting task ofrebuildingtheir lives amidst ongoing conflict anddestruction.”The Syrian Arab Red Crescent continues to be a critical lifeline, providing around 23 million humanitarian services and volunteers continue to provide people with food, water, basic relief items, health care, and psychosocial support.About the IFRC’s Appeal:The IFRC launched two Emergency Appeals, one forTürkiye and one forSyria, amounting to CHF 500 million; both are still significantly underfunded (funding gap of 65 per cent in Türkiye and 43 per cent in Syria). Further support and funding are urgently needed to make a significant impact on the lives of those affected and empower people to rebuild their lives and contribute to their local economies in both countries.For more information, audio visual material or to coordinate an interview, please contact:[email protected] Ankara:Miriam Atallah, +90 53 091 70224In Beirut:Mey Al Sayegh: +961 761 74468In Geneva:Tommaso Della Longa +41797084367Mrinalini Santhanam +41 76 381 5006Andrew Thomas +41 76 367 6587 Carina Wint +47 413 91 873B-roll footage and images of volunteers responding are available at the IFRC newsroom.'

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| Press release

IFRC concludes implementation of the ESSN programme in Türkiye

Ankara, 6 December 2023: As a significant milestone in its commitment to humanitarian aid, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) concluded the implementation of the Emergency Social Safety Net (ESSN) Programme and handed it over to the Ministry of Family and Social Services (MoFSS) of the Republic of Türkiye alongside Türk Kızılay, which will continue to be the implementing partner, with the financial support of the European Union (EU). To mark this pivotal moment, the IFRC hosted an event on 6 December 2023 that included a photo exhibition at The Ankara Hotel, with the presence of the Head of Unit for Southeast Europe and Eastern Neighbourhood for the EU’s Humanitarian Aid Operations (DG ECHO) Juha Auvinen and the Head of Cooperation at the Delegation of the EU to Türkiye Odoardo Como. The IFRC was represented by Regional Director for the Europe and Central Asia Office Birgitte Bischoff Ebbesen, the Republic of Türkiye’s Ministry of Family and Social Services by its Deputy Minister Zafer Tarıkdaroğlu and Türk Kızılay by its Director General for International Affairs and Migration Services Alper Küçük. “This programme has successfully provided monthly cash assistance to more than 1.5 million vulnerable refugees in Türkiye,” said Jessie Thomson, IFRC Türkiye’s Head of Delegation. “Today, we proudly hand over the programme to the capable hands of the Republic of Türkiye’s Ministry of Family and Social Services and Türk Kızılay. We are thrilled to see this vital programme continue in support of the most vulnerable refugees in Türkiye for the years to come.” “The first step towards the great goals we all aspire to, such as sustainable development and lasting peace, is to empower individuals in need of protection. This is our perspective as Turkish people and the policy we wish to convey to the international community,” said Adil Çalışkan, MoFSS Director General. “With this will, I believe that the ESSN Programme, which we have been implementing since 2016 will continue being one of the best practices of humanitarian assistance in the world following this new milestone.” Since 2020, the partnership between the IFRC and Türk Kızılay, together with the Republic of Türkiye’s Ministry of Family and Social Services, had been leading on this EU-funded cash programme, which provided cash assistance to more than 1.5 million refugees in Türkiye on monthly basis via the KIZILAYKART debit card, with the specific objective of stabilizing and improving the living standards of the most vulnerable households. "Türk Kızılay assumes a crucial role as a bridge that connects Türkiye's social assistance network to the extensive international assistance framework," said Alper Küçük, Türk Kızılay’s Director General for International Affairs and Migration Services. “Positioned centrally, the organization actively facilitates the exchange and coordination of resources, information, and expertise between national and international domains. Serving as a vital nexus, it plays a pivotal role in integrating humanitarian efforts across local, regional and global scales, thereby enhancing the overall effectiveness of social assistance initiatives." The ESSN Programme in Türkiye, also known as the largest humanitarian cash programme in the history of the EU, was first implemented by the World Food Programme (WFP) and Türk Kızılay in 2016, in partnership with the Republic of Türkiye’s Ministry of Family and Social Services, funded by DG ECHO. This financial support was crucial in increasing the economic resilience of the refugee population while enabling them to meet their most essential needs. “In 2016, we faced an unprecedented refugee crisis. Through the ESSN, we demonstrated that the EU, Türkiye and international humanitarian organizations could work together to create a unique humanitarian programme, which brought relief to millions of refugees,” explained Juha Auvinen, Head of Unit for Southeast Europe of the EU’s Humanitarian Aid Operations.” The Ministry of Family and Social Services, as the main applicant with Türk Kızılay as the co-applicant, have taken over the implementation of this programme since August 2023, and will continue serving millions of vulnerable refugees in Türkiye with the financial support of the Directorate General for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations (DG NEAR) under the ministry’s collective Social Safety Net Programme (SSN).

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Rebuilding lives: Cash assistance supports refugee family in Türkiye to recover from earthquakes

On 6 February 2023, Türkiye was shaken by two massive earthquakes—the most significant seismic events the country has faced in the past century. The earthquakes have left a lasting impact on the nation's southeast region and beyond, toppling buildings, disrupting people’s livelihoods, and leaving communities in distress. For refugee communities living in Türkiye, the earthquakes came as yet another blow in their journey to find a peaceful and safe life. Ahmad Al Saleh is a refugee from rural Hama, Syria. He and his family moved to Türkiye in 2015 due to the escalating conflict at home, settling in Antakya – just 100km away from the first earthquake’s epicentre. “At 4:30 AM, we were sleeping with the kids when we suddenly felt the house shaking. Out of fear, we ran straight outside. It was raining and the weather was so cold. It wasn’t an option for us to go back in, so we slept outside for ten days," says Ahmad. Thankfully, Ahmad’s wife and six young children weren’t physically harmed during the earthquakes. But other families living close by weren’t so lucky. "Seeing all those survivors, children and women all around the place crying… I didn’t know who to help first. I saw people crying over their children, others over their wives and some others over their siblings. I saw buildings that were totally damaged. It was impossible to clean the rubble," explains Ahmad. Before the earthquakes struck, Ahmad and his family had been receiving monthly cash assistance from the IFRC and Turkish Red Crescent through the EU-funded Emergency Social Safety Net (ESSN) programme. The ESSN provided refugees living in Türkiye with reliable support via prepaid debit cards—called 'KIZILAYKART' or 'Red Crescent card'—to help them cover their basic needs. After the earthquakes, we worked with the Turkish Red Crescent to increase this cash support to affected communities—providing a lifeline for families like Ahmad's to cover essentials like rent, electricity, water bills, and groceries when their lives were turned upside down. "Regarding work, it became a lot less now. I hope I keep receiving this assistance through the KIZILAYKART. Otherwise, it’s impossible for us to pay rent, especially since the prices have drastically increased now. There are no jobs, unfortunately. In agriculture, normally you work only for a couple of days, but now we’ve been left with nothing," says Ahmad. Several months on from the earthquakes, the Turkish Red Crescent and IFRC remain firmly by the sides of communities across Türkiye. We continue to help people like Ahmad recover from the long-lasting impacts of the earthquakes—knowing from our many years of experience that cash assistance is one of the best ways to help people recover from disasters with freedom, independence and dignity. -- More information: Click here to learn more about our Emergency Social Safety Net (ESSN) programme. Click here to learn more about the IFRC’s response to the earthquakes in Türkiye. And click here to learn more about cash assistance.

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| Press release

Türkiye and Syria earthquakes: Six months on, IFRC calls for urgent support to meet immense ongoing needs

Ankara/Damascus, 3 August 2023: Six months after the devastating earthquakes in Türkiye and Syria, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) calls for urgent support to affected communities still reeling from the monumental impacts of the disaster. Although recovery efforts are well underway, the earthquakes have had an immeasurable impact, leading to the loss of thousands of lives and affecting millions more. “We have seen astounding resilience in communities, but people still find themselves stuck in a very difficult situation,” says Ruben Cano, IFRC Head of Delegation in Türkiye. “Many people in Türkiye – particularly those who lost their homes and income – are still struggling with their day-to-day needs, including paying for food, rent and other necessities. A ‘normal’ life is still far from reach.” Many people are falling deeper into debt to help cover their needs while they recover and build back income sources. More than 50 percent of families supported by the IFRC and Turkish Red Crescent are taking on new debts after the earthquakes as the country battles inflation and a drastic increase in prices. In Syria, the reality for many people is even more dire – the earthquake's impact, coupled with 12 years of conflict, has rendered recovery exceedingly challenging. The economic situation continues to push already vulnerable communities deeper into hardship and uncertainty. “The rescue phase of the earthquake response may have concluded, but the emergency situation persists,” says Mads Brinch Hansen, IFRC Head of Delegation in Syria. “Immediate international support is needed right now, both to meet immediate humanitarian needs, as well as to build people’s resilience and rehabilitate vital infrastructure and community services, which are on the brink of collapse.” The IFRC, together with the Turkish Red Crescent and Syrian Arab Red Crescent, has been at the very heart of this response since day one. Teams have been providing immediate relief to affected communities, including food, water, shelter, healthcare and mental health and psychosocial support. Financial support through cash and vouchers is helping many families recover as best they can, as is support for rebuilding businesses and opportunities for income. The IFRC launched two Emergency Appeals, one for Türkiye and one for Syria, totaling CHF 500 million. There is still a funding gap of 74% in Türkiye and 56% in Syria. Further support and funding are urgently needed to make a significant impact on the lives of those affected and empower individuals to rebuild their lives and contribute to their local economies in both Syria and Türkiye in the long term. Notes to the editor: More about the operation in Türkiye: click here The Turkish Red Crescent has been providing 416 million meals to affected communities and responders in the last six months while also ensuring people have clean water, essential hygiene items and health services. Teams have set up safe spaces offering mental health and psychosocial support to many children, parents, first responders and other individuals who need it. To help survivors buy the items they need as they recover, cash assistance has been given to more than 137,000 families in partnership with the IFRC and WFP. In partnership with the IFRC, the Turkish Red Crescent has reached over 590,000 people with cash and voucher assistance. For the short-term, multipurpose cash assistance gives people the opportunity to buy what they need the most, but it will also be a vital tool to provide livelihood assistance to those who lost their jobs or their sources of income. IFRC and the Turkish Red Crescent are currently ramping up aid support for livelihood assistance to people with a focus on agriculture, animal husbandry and small businesses. The IFRC Emergency Appeal is seeking CHF 400 million to support the Turkish Red Crescent response has already been funded up to CHF 105.5 million, thanks to some of our national societies’ support, the generosity of multiple governments, the European Union and the international community. The current funding gap is approximately 74 per cent. More about the operation in Syria: click here Communities affected by the earthquake in Syria are grappling with the daily struggle for survival, as access to necessities like food, water, shelter, and medical care is becoming increasingly scarce. Since day one, the Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC) staff and volunteers were the first on the ground to respond, and they have provided more than 12 million humanitarian services, including food, water, shelter, healthcare and mental health support to the affected population. The Syrian Arab Red Crescent continues to be the main humanitarian actor in Syria and is covering the impacts of the earthquake on a broad scale, including food, water, shelter, healthcare and mental health support, and items to meet people’s basic needs. It will continue to support communities over the years to come. So far, SARC provides 80% of the Syrian population with safe water through the treatment and maintenance of damaged water infrastructure and has a network of 229 health facilities, which represent a lifeline for hundreds of thousands of people across the country. The IFRC Emergency Appeal seeking CHF 100 million to support the SARC response has already been funded up to CHF 44million, with a current funding gap of approximately 56%. For more information or to coordinate an interview, please contact: [email protected]  Global: Anna Tuson: +41 79 895 6924 Syria: Mey Al Sayegh: +96176174468 Türkiye: Sevil Erkus: +905366449122

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Houda's dream: Building a new life in Türkiye through food

Food has always a central part of Houda Al-Fadil’s life. Some of her fondest childhood memories center around preparing dishes such as makdous (pickled or oil-cured, stuffed eggplant) with her mother in her home town on the outskirts of Damascus. “We sat around our mom when she prepared it,” she recalls. “We did the same when she prepared mulukhiyah,” she adds, referring to a leafy plant from the region used like spinach in stews or with lamb and rice. “These were happy times and wonderful get-togethers with my mom and sisters.” Then war broke outand the happy days ended. Houda’s husband lost his job and the family faced tremendous hardships. That’s whenher cooking skills came in handy. “I cooked kibbah (croquettes filled with lamb or chicken) and I prepared hacked parsley, stuffed zucchinis and grape leaves,” she says. “For those celebrating the arrival of a baby, I supplied wrapped candies. I made pancakes.” The key ingredient Today whenHouda cooks mulukhiyah or uzi(pastry stuffed with peas, sautéed nuts, vegetables, meat and rice ), it has an entirely different meaning. Houda now lives in Türkiye, a country that welcomed her after she and her family fled Syria, terrified and weary after years of indiscriminate shelling, random abductions, and a lack of opportunity and future for her children. In her new home of Kahramanmaras, in central southern Türkiye, Houda’s cooking skills are the now key ingredient in her quest for a new life. They not only provide asmall income and meaningful employment,they offer a way to connect with people in her new community. Her new culinary adventure began when Houda enrolled in a traditional Turkish cooking course offered at acommunity center run by the Turkish Red Crescent, supported in part with funds from theEuropean Unionand operated as part of a partnership with theInternational Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC). There are 16 such centres in Türkiyeand they are open to people from both Syrian refugee and Turkish communities. They help connect people with lost loved ones, provide child-friendly spaces, and offer a range of services from vocational training to business development, psychosocial support, health referrals, among many other things. “I signed up in a cooking course, a sport class and a course in agriculture,” Houda says. “We grew pepper and tomatoes. The experience was great. I enjoyed all the courses, but I found great pleasure in the cooking course.” Sharing recipes, sharingfriendship Now she is able to make a living much as she did before the war by cookinguziandmulukhiyahin the Turkish style.“There were Turkish and Syrian women with us. The Turkish women learned from us the Syrianstyle ofcookingandthey taught us the Turkish way.” “I learned how to cookmanti(traditional Turkish dumplings)andtarhana[a spicy Turkish soup].Ialso learnedthat we had many things in commonwith the Turkishway.” NowHoudahas a small but growing list of customerswho use Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp to place their orders, whichthe customers thenpicked up ororwait for them to be handdelivered by the chef herself.Houdaalso sells her dishes at small events calledkermes. “Thisactivity has served me well.It directed me to the right path.” Still,fitting in to a country with a different language and culture is not always easy.FatmaBeyaz, an interpreter at the Turkish Red CrescentCommunityCentre inKahramanmaras, saysHouda’s growingculinary skills will help her and her family find a seat at the table in their new Turkishcommunity. “Houdais a very happy and positive person when she came to theCommunityCenter, but still she needed somesupport,”saysBeyaz, who has served as a kind of a personal mentor toHouda. “Now her confidence and her social skills increased. She found a community and started to make in income for herself.” Meanwhile,Houdais already thinking long-term.“I have a dream; I have a dream to open a little restaurant,” she says.“Arestaurant that offersall kind of dishes: Turkish, Syrian orfrom elsewhere.I hope I could open such restaurant,in which people from Syria, Türkiye and other places can come togetherand strengthenthetiesbetween them.” -- This story was produced and originally published by the Red Cross Red Crescent Magazine. To learn about the Magazine, and to read more stories like this,click here. We caught up again with Houda in 2023 following the devastating 6 February earthquake that affected hundreds of thousands people in Türkiye and Syria. You can read that story here.

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Fleeing Syria and surviving the Türkiye earthquake: Houda’s secret ingredients for resilience

Starting your life over somewhere new is never an easy feat. It takes immense mental strength to rebuild years of hard work and community from scratch. For Houda Al-Fadil, starting over wasn’t by choice. She was forced to flee a war-torn Syria, leaving her home behind so she could protect her family and offer them a chance of a better life—a life away from bombing, hunger, and fear. Back in October 2020, we interviewed Houda for our Red Cross Red Crescent magazine and learned how she and her family had started their new life in Kahramanmaraş, Türkiye. There, Houda had found her calling in the kitchen. Cooking had always been a passion for her, but it also became a way to make ends meet and support her husband and four children. Catching up with Houda in April 2023, she told us how she signed up for cooking courses at Turkish Red Crescent community centres to pursue her food business. “Thanks to these courses, I learned how to buy and sell. I learned about Turkish traditions and the Turkish community, and I felt included. They brought together people from Türkiye and Syria, and I was able to learn from both. They also organized a cooking festival where I was able to sell food that I had prepared at home.” The courses inspired her to create new recipes that combined Syrian and Turkish ingredients. Selling her dishes from home, she quickly built up a loyal following of customers who loved her unique culinary concoctions. Her business was going well and she began dreaming up her own little restaurant, a safe space in which people from Syria, Türkiye and other places could connect with one another over food. But on the morning of February 6, 2023, it all came to a halt. A 7.7 magnitude earthquake hit southeast Türkiye and northern Syria, killing more than 50,000 people and destroying homes and livelihoods. Fortunately, Houda and her family were physically unscathed, but it was a terrifying experience for them. “The shaking and the sounds that went on for a minute and a half were extremely distressing. One of my kids couldn’t sleep nor eat for a whole week after that. I sent her to stay with our relatives for a while so she could recover, and she came back when she started to feel better,” Houda says. As well as the physical damage caused by the earthquake, with cracks appearing on the walls of her home, the real damage was to Houda’s up-and-coming cooking business. “I had almost 100 customers, everyone was buying the dishes I was preparing. But most of my customers fled Kahramanmaraş after the earthquake. Some people moved to Istanbul, Bursa and Mersin. Others sadly passed away. I only have two customers left now.” The earthquake might have shaken Houda, but it had little effect on her perseverance and her will to keep moving forward. So, what’s the secret ingredient to her resilience? “My family keeps me going. I want my daughter to continue her university studies during these difficult times, and I want to help her achieve her dreams. By pursuing my own dream, I can support my children and other people to pursue their own. This is what makes me happy; helping others and providing all the support they need to achieve their goals.” Houda wants to rebuild her cooking business in Türkiye, with no plans to return to Syria. “I wouldn’t go back to Syria. The situation there is dire; the poverty is unbelievable. Some people don’t have food. I heard stories of people who had to sell their clothes to be able to feed their children. There’s no water, no electricity, no internet. There’s just no proper life for us there.” To help her on her cooking journey, Houda has also now taken up gardening with support from the Turkish Red Crescent. Unwavering support from their volunteers has been another key ingredient to her resilience. She concluded: “I still aspire to do it. My culinary dream lives on. Everyone should hold on to their ambitions and not give up early on. Stay strong in front of the challenges that lie ahead!” You can listen to our recent interview with Houda via Red Cross Red Crescent magazine's latest podcast. -- To assist people affected by the 6 February earthquake, the IFRC launched two Emergency Appeals for Türkiye and Syria to support the response of our National Societies on the ground. And since 2019, in partnership with the Turkish Red Crescent, the IFRC has been supporting more than 1.5 million refugees like Houda in Türkiye through our Emergency Social Safety Net (ESSN) Programme, funded by the European Union. Click here to find out more.

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Türkiye and Syria earthquakes: MENA Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies come together in crisis

It was 4:17 AM on February 6, 2023 when two powerful earthquakes wreaked havoc across southeast Türkiye and northern Syria, killing more than 50,000 people and instantly destroying livelihoods. Those fortunate enough to walk out of their buildings woke up to absolute devastation. The only thing more frightening than the sight of collapsed buildings was the deafening silence. While the Syrian Arab Red Crescent and Turkish Red Crescent were very quick to respond, it was clear from the immense scale of the disaster that additional support was urgently needed. Thankfully, regional and global support from the IFRC network was swift, with Red Cross and Red Crescent societies from all over the world sending aid within 24 hours. National Societies from the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region were some of the first to arrive on the scene. Red Crescent and Red Cross emergency teams from Algeria, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Palestine, Tunisia, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the UAE were all dispatched immediately to support search and rescue missions and provide urgent relief. Let’s hear from some of them about how they responded, and hear their perspectives on the crisis: The Iraqi Red Crescent Society was quick to act, with emergency teams and shipments of relief items by air and land. Their President, Dr. Yassin Ahmed Abbas, said: “Two Iraqi airplanes carrying tons of relief items landed in Syria approximately 8 hours after the earthquake. We also dispatched a team of 150 volunteers - supported by ambulances and mobile clinics - to Türkiye to assist with search and rescue and first aid. We’ve managed to provide more than 300 tons of relief supplies so far - to both Syria and Türkiye - and there’s more coming.” At the same time, the Algerian Red Crescent quickly mobilized its resources, deploying an emergency team and sending out two shipments totaling 185 tons of relief items that included food, water, clothes, blankets, mattresses, tents and generators. Nabyl Daas, Emergency Response Team Coordinator for the Algerian Red Crescent, said: “We formed a team of 26 volunteers that included two orthopedic surgeons and a team of Mental Health & Psychosocial Support specialists. We served in 4 different areas in Aleppo, but the conditions were extremely difficult as most buildings were in danger of collapse, which made our work extremely challenging.” It was a similar story for the Kuwait Red Crescent Society volunteer team, who were unaware of the immense challenges ahead. “We felt so many aftershocks during our search and rescue missions, which made our job more difficult than it already was. The most intense aftershock was a 6.4-magnitude, and it caused more deaths and destruction.” said Adnan Haidar, a Kuwait Red Crescent volunteer. “There was nowhere to sleep as everything was destroyed, homes, hotels, everything. People were lining up in fuel stations to get fuel for their cars, which were turned into temporary homes. It was extremely cold, so people used the heaters in their cars for warmth. They would then turn off the cars to sleep because either they were too scared to go back into a building or because their homes were completely destroyed,” Adnan added. As well as sending much-needed support crews, the Kuwait Red Crescent Society signed an international cooperation agreement for 5 million USD to provide urgent aid in affected areas in Syria, which included food, medical supplies, blankets, tents, electrical appliances and prefabricated homes. However, there is a need for more support despite the ongoing efforts, according to the Palestine Red Crescent Society (PRCS), which dispatched a team of 14 specialized in Disaster Risk Management, Mental Health & Psychosocial Support, and First Aid. The PRCS assessed the situation in Syria and were able to identify several gaps, including a shortage in particular relief items. Rana Faqih, Disaster Risk Management Coordinator for the Palestine Red Crescent, said: “We were able to assist thousands of people through our different services; however, there is a desperate need for more support.” “There’s plenty of aid coming in, but it’s not enough. There are plenty of food parcels and hot meals, and they’re enough for everyone, but we noticed an insufficiency in other relief items such as baby formula, children’s clothes, hygiene kits and dignity kits. We need to do more.” There is, nevertheless, light at the end of the tunnel, as Abdallah Zgheib - who was part of the Lebanese Red Cross search and rescue team - says: “I cannot describe the feeling we had when we rescued a pregnant woman and her child from under the rubble. I never imagined I would feel so joyous and thankful amid such devastation. Everyone who witnessed this moment erupted in celebration. We celebrated hope.” “The power of humanity is what gave us hope and kept us going, non-stop; it kept us going in sub-freezing temperatures and it kept us full despite barely eating anything for 4 days straight.” One month into this heartbreaking crisis, MENA Red Cross and Red Crescent teams continue to support one another in the face of challenging and evolving circumstances. While much uncertainty remains for those affected by the earthquakes, our volunteers are a constant and will be there for people as long as they’re needed. This crisis has shown, more than ever, that there is strength in numbers. Strength in working together. And strength in our IFRC network.

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| Press release

Türkiye and Syria one month on: A mental health ticking time bomb

Geneva/Ankara/Damascus, 03 March 2023 – Nearly one month since two devastating earthquakes struck Türkiye and Syria, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) warns of the urgent need of a sustainable short- and long-term response to the health and mental health and psychosocial needs to prevent a “second disaster”. Since day one, the Turkish Red Crescent and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent with the IFRC support, have been meeting the immediate humanitarian needs in the hardest hit areas, including the distribution of food, clean water, hygiene items, winter clothing, blankets and the provision of first aid, health care and sanitation services. But one month into the response, scaling up mental health services is crucial. The demand for mental health and psychosocial support and health care is immense, and in some areas where access is difficult, it can put the most affected at even higher risk of developing medium- and long-term mental health challenges that can hinder recovery and resilience. The earthquakes have rocked survivors to their very core. Entire communities are suffering after losing everything from their loved ones to homes, jobs and many sentimental belongings they own. Moreover, many caregivers and first responders are struggling to cope with what they’ve seen in addition to the exhausting workload and secondary trauma. In Türkiye, Red Crescent teams have set up safe spaces offering mental health and psychosocial support for children to play, supporting over 42,000 people, including first responders and health workers. They also provide psychological first aid and offer referrals to local health facilities. “Responding from the local level, with both mobile and fixed units, is what allows the Turkish Red Crescent and IFRC to respond immediately to the physical and mental health needs of those most affected. A localised and early health and mental health response is and will continue to be essential to prevent negative long-term and even permanent effects on people's lives”, said Lauren Clarke, IFRC health coordinator for the humanitarian response in Türkiye. In Syria, the Syrian Arab Red Crescent teams have supported over 30,000 people with psychological first aid, especially children and continue to provide healthcare and medicines through mobile health units, and physical rehabilitation programs and clinics. The earthquake comes after nearly 12 years of conflict that has already displaced millions and traumatised many communities. “Many of the damages caused by the earthquake are not visible. People have suffered more than a decade of conflict which has already affected their mental health and wellbeing. This earthquake adds another layer to that. We also have seen that psychological wounds won’t always appear right away. That is why we need to provide continuous support, not only right now but for years to come. Hopefully, there will not be another disaster that would complicate the situation even further”, said Gwendolen Eamer, IFRC Health Coordinator in Syria. The IFRC Emergency Appeals for 650 million Swiss francs will support the Turkish Red Crescent and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent to continue scaling up their humanitarian response and recovery efforts over the next two years in what is one of the most challenging earthquake responses recently faced by the global Red Cross Red Crescent network. For more information or to coordinate an interview, please contact: [email protected] or +41 79 708 4367 Note to editors In Syria, Syrian Arab Red Crescent teams have also distributed more than 1.2 million relief items, such as winter clothes, food, clean water, hygiene articles, and they have provided sanitation services, as these are key to prevent outbreaks such as diarrhea, respiratory and skin infections, COVID-19 and other viral diseases. In parallel, the Palestine Red Crescent in Syria together with the Syrian Arab Red Crescent continue to deliver aid, including food distribution, ambulances and medical services, focusing mainly on the Palestinian camps in Aleppo and Latakia. In close coordination with the health authorities, the Turkish Red Crescent is also providing health care through seven mobile clinics in hard-hit rural areas and temporary shelters. Where markets are functioning, they have distributed more than 140,000 cash vouchers, helping to empower survivors by restoring their agency, and giving them the freedom and control to meet their needs in the way they prefer. Turkish Red Crescent volunteers have also distributed over 94 million hot meals.

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| Press release

Syria and Türkiye: IFRC increases emergency funding ask to CHF 650 million, as humanitarian needs rise

Geneva/Ankara/Damascus (16 February 2023)–As the scale of the earthquake’sdevastation inSyriaandTürkiyebecomes clearer, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is increasing its Emergency Appeals from CHF 200 million to CHF 650 million to respond to rising humanitarian needs in both countries. “The fullimpactof this earthquake is still unfolding. The situation on the ground is rapidly changing, and needs are growing by the minute. For survivors, these are some of the hardest moments of their lives and the road to recoverywill belong. The most urgent needs are shelter, health care and sanitation, food, and water. People are also facing major distress – early access to mental health and psychosocial support is critical,” said IFRC’s Secretary General Jagan Chapagain,who is currently visiting communities in Syria and Türkiye. The Syrian Arab Red Crescent and Turkish Red Crescent have been working around the clock to support affected communities even though many staff and volunteers have also lost homes and loved ones. Millions of people in Syria and Türkiye are affected, and many are seeking shelter at relatives’ homes, inneighbouringcities or in emergency shelters. Others are sleeping in their cars, in tents or outdoors, exposed to freezing temperatures. Temporary shelters are critical so that evacuated families have a warm place to stay while they figure out next steps. Long-term global support and solidarity to deliver humanitarian assistance will be needed in the monthsand yearsof recovery ahead. IFRC’s Emergency Appealssupport impacted people throughthe Syrian Arab Red Crescent and the Turkish Red Crescentvia rapid response teams, funding, material assistance and more. Updates to the IFRC’s increased financial asks tell the story of a continually unfolding disaster with compounding needs—from shelter and health to livelihoods and food security. InTürkiye, Turkish Red Crescent has deployed more than 5,000 staff and volunteers in ten affected provinces with stocks of food and basic aid items to support those injured and evacuated. Teams have distributed more than 31 million hot mealstopeople outdoors and at emergency shelters. To meet the increased demand for blood, Turkish Red Crescent has sent its national blood stock to the affected regions and is calling on people across Türkiye to donate blood. InSyria, Syrian Arab Red Crescent teams have been responding with 4,000 volunteers and staff inthehardest hit areas – including Hama, Aleppo, Lattakia and Tartous – reaching more than 365,000 people with life-saving support. Medical units have been performing first aid, emergency evacuations and transport to hospitals. Volunteers on the ground have distributed more than 220,000 packages with items such as food, water, basic relief supplies and hygiene kits, and have been helping people connect with loved ones separated by the crisis. Both Red Crescent teams are providing mental health and psychosocial support to those in need to help alleviate distress and refer them to long-term mental health care if necessary. In Palestinian Refugee camps in Syria, Palestine Red Crescent teams are working together with Syrian Arab Red Crescent to provide lifesaving support, including first aid and food distribution. Response teams were focused on Palestinian camps in Aleppo and Latakia, managing ambulances, medical clinics, doctors, and volunteers. The earthquake has prompted a huge wave of solidarity from the IFRC network: dozens of National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies from aroundthe world have offered technical support. Many of them have already supported the Turkish Red Crescent and Syrian Arab Red Crescent with emergency relief items. Almost 60 National Societies have started domestic fundraising campaigns. For more information or to coordinate an interview, please contact: [email protected] +41 79 708 4367 Note to editors: Gaziantep press briefing: IFRC Secretary General, Jagan Chapagain, will be holding anin-person press briefing from Gaziantepon Friday, 17 February at 17:30 local time. [email protected] details. A/V materials available to media on theIFRC Newsroom.

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| Press release

IFRC calls for long term support and solidarity for the people of Türkiye and Syria

Geneva/Ankara/Damascus (11 February 2023) - The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is calling on the international community for long-term support and solidarity to the people in Türkiye and Syria hit by two devastating earthquakes on 6 February. “The level of pain and suffering is immense and the need for support is equally enormous. This humanitarian response is not a sprint. It is a marathon. We call on the international community to support the people of Syria and Türkiye not just in the coming days, but also in the months and years needed for recovery”, said Jagan Chapagain, IFRC Secretary General. Turkish Red Crescent and Syrian Arab Red Crescent are at the very heart of this response. Both National Societies are rooted in the communities they serve, providing unique access to hardest-hit areas. Often volunteers and staff come from those same communities and may have lost loved ones and homes themselves. They continue to work around the clock to provide life-saving care to survivors. As the life-saving search and rescue window sadly closes, the most urgent needs are shelter, health and mental health care, food, and water. The IFRC continues to scale up international support, bringing in urgently needed relief supplies and resources across borders to support localized efforts. “The aftermath of the earthquake is that of utter devastation. Buildings, schools, homes, and hospitals are destroyed. The most heart-breaking reality is the many thousands still missing and stuck under the rubble. The chances of finding survivors are shrinking. Time is running out fast. Response efforts are extremely challenging. Many roads and other infrastructure have been damaged, limiting access to affected areas. Freezing winter conditions and aftershocks are also hampering those efforts and putting rescuers in considerable danger”, the IFRC Secretary General concluded. The IFRC has scaled up its two International Emergency Appeals to 200 million Swiss francs to support people in Syria (80 million Swiss francs) and Türkiye (120 million Swiss francs). Red Cross Red Crescent Action In Türkiye, the Turkish Red Crescent has deployed more than 4,000 staff and volunteers in affected provinces with stocks of food and basic aid items to support those injured and evacuated. Their teams have distributed 3.5 million hot meals among people outdoors and at emergency shelters and reached 284,000 people with ready-to-eat packages. To meet the increased demand for blood, Turkish Red Crescent has sent its national blood stock to the affected regions and is calling on people across Türkiye to donate blood. In Syria, the Syrian Arab Red Crescent teams have been responding with 4,000 volunteers and staff in hardest hit areas – including Hama, Aleppo, Lattakia and Tartous –reaching almost 60,000 people with life-saving support. Medical units have been performing first aid, emergency evacuations and transport to hospitals. Volunteers on the ground have distributed more than 42,000 packages of food, water, basic items and hygiene kits to people, and have been providing restoring family links services. Red Crescent National Societies in both Türkiye and Syria are providing mental health and psychosocial support to those in need to alleviate distress and refer them for long-term mental health care if necessary. In the Palestinian Refugee camps in Syria, Palestine Red Crescent teams are working together with Syrian Arab Red Crescent to provide life-saving support, including first aid and food distribution. Their response teams are mainly focused on the Palestinian camps in Aleppo and Latakia, providing ambulances, medical clinics, doctors, and volunteers. For more information or to coordinate an interview, please contact: In Geneva: Tommaso Della Longa, +41 79 708 4367, [email protected] In Beirut (covering Syria): Mey Elsayegh, +961 3 229 352, [email protected] In Gaziantep:(coveringTürkiye) Corrie Butler, +36 70 430 6506, [email protected] In Ankara: Elif Isik, +90 539 857 51 97, [email protected] In Washington: Marie Claudet, +1 202 999 8689, [email protected] Photos and video of this response are available to download and use here.

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| Article

Türkiye and Syria earthquakes: IFRC response to date

Two devastating earthquakes (magnitude of 7.7 and 7.6) struck southeast Türkiye in the early hours of Monday 6 February 2023, followed by several aftershocks. The earthquakes killed tens of thousands of people and injured many more in the region, as well as in bordering Syria. This was the largest earthquake Türkiye and Syria have faced in more than a century. Both the Syrian Arab Red Crescent and Turkish Red Crescent responded immediately, with thousands of volunteers and staff working around the clock to provide life-saving care. Months later, millions of people continue to be affected and displaced and in need of shelter, health and mental health services, sanitation, food, and water. Our emergency appeals The IFRC launched two Emergency Appeals to support the response of our National Societies on the ground, with a combined value of 650 million Swiss francs (CHF). Follow these links to learn more about each appeal and priorities for the response: In Syria:200 million Swiss francs to support the Syrian Arab Red Crescent In Türkiye: 450million Swiss francs to support the Turkish Red Crescent Donations Please use the following links to donate to our response in each country: Donate to Syria response Donate to Türkiye response We are grateful for your valuable support which will enable us to help the Syrian Arab Red Crescent and Turkish Red Crescent to deliver lifesaving support. Click here for general information about donating to the IFRC. Media enquiries If you are a journalist and would like more information or to request an interview about this emergency, please [email protected]. What are our National Societies doing? Both the Turkish Red Crescent and Syrian Arab Red Crescent have been at the very heart of this earthquake response. InTürkiye, Turkish Red Crescent deployed more than 5,000 staff and volunteers in ten affected provinces with stocks of food and basic aid items to support those injured and evacuated. Teams have distributed more than 300 million hot mealstopeople outdoors and at emergency shelters. InSyria, Syrian Arab Red Crescent teams responded with 4,000 volunteers and staff inthehardest hit areas – including Hama, Aleppo, Lattakia and Tartous. Through their clinics and mobile health units, they have provided healthcare and medicines for more than 1.1 million people. And they have distributed more than 3.2 million humanitarian relief items,including shelter, blankets, mattresses, winter clothes, hygiene supplies, and food and agriculture supplies. Red Crescent National Societies in both Türkiye and Syria are providing mental health and psychosocial support to those in need to alleviate distress and refer them to long-term mental health care services where necessary. The earthquake prompted a huge wave of solidarity from the IFRC network: dozens of National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies from aroundthe world have offered technical support. Many of them have supported the Turkish Red Crescent and Syrian Arab Red Crescent with emergency relief items. Almost 60 National Societies have started domestic fundraising campaigns. Follow these Twitter accounts for the latest updates: @IFRC @IFRC_Europe @IFRC_MENA @SYRedCrescent- Syrian Arab Red Crescent @RedCrescent- Turkish Red Crescent @BirgitteEbbesen - IFRC Europe Regional Director, Birgitte Bischoff Ebbesen @elsharkawi - IFRC MENA Regional Director, Hossam Elsharkawi Useful links Press release from 3 March: "Türkiye and Syria one month on: A mental health ticking time bomb" Press release from 16 February: "Syria and Türkiye: IFRC increases emergency funding ask to CHF 650 million, as humanitarian needs rise" Press release from 11 February: "IFRC calls for long term support and solidarity for the people of Türkiye and Syria" Our first press release from Monday 6 February with an initial update and announcing our two appeals. Rights-free photos and videos from our response so far which you can download and use. General information about earthquakes and earthquake preparedness.

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| Emergency

Türkiye: Earthquakes

A devastating 7.7 magnitude earthquake struck southeastTürkiye in the early hours of 6 February, followed by several aftershocks, killing thousands and injuring many more in the region, as well as in bordering Syria. The Turkish Red Crescent (TRC) is distributing tents, blankets, sleeping bags, bed chairs and mattressesto meet the urgent shelter needs of the people whose houses were destroyed. Through this appeal, the IFRC is supporting TRC to meet the immediate and early recovery needs of 300,000 affected people. Support includes shelter, food and water, mental and physical health services, cash assistance and protection for vulnerable groups.

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| Press release

IFRC launches international Emergency Appeals for CHF 200 million to respond to deadly earthquake in Türkiye and Syria

Geneva/Ankara/Damascus (6 February 2023) -The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is launching Emergency Appeals for CHF 200 million to respond to a deadly 7.7 magnitude earthquake in Türkiye and Syria. The Turkish Red Crescent and Syrian Arab Red Crescent have immediately mobilized to support communities affected: needs are growing minute by minute. Rescue teams have been reaching hardest-hit areas where survivors remain trapped under rubble. In Türkiye, teams from the Turkish Red Crescent deployed in ten affected provinces in the south and southeast regions with stocks of food and basic aid items such as tents and blankets to support those injured and evacuated. Their teams are also providing psychological support, distributing hot meals and sending its national stock of blood and plasma to the affected regions. In Syria, the Syrian Arab Red Crescent has been responding on the ground since early morning, supporting search and rescue operations, providing first aid, performing emergency medical evacuations and transporting injured people to the hospitals. A big number of buildings collapsed amidst vulnerable living situations and very harsh weather conditions. “This earthquake caused unfathomable damage. Our worst fear is coming true. In this response, every minute counts,” said Xavier Castellanos, IFRC Under Secretary General for National Society Development and Operations Coordination. “The vulnerabilities are coupled on top of harsh winter conditions, making it unbearable for many. The vulnerable living conditions, particularly in Syria, are even further stretched in a decade-long war. People who lost their homes and loved ones need our support. We must join forces and do our best to help.” Increased global support and solidarity to deliver humanitarian assistance is essential in the weeks and months of recovery ahead. IFRC will launch two International Appeals, CHF 80 million to support people in Syria with the Syrian Arab Red Crescent and CHF 120 million in Türkiye with the Turkish Red Crescent. Updated on Feb. 7: Based on continued monitoring of the situation, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) has increased the amount of the Emergency Appeal. We are now seeking 200 Million to respond to the deadly earthquake in Türkiye and Syria. For more information or to coordinate an interview, please contact: In Geneva: Tommaso Della Longa, +41.79.708.4367, [email protected] In Beirut (covering Syria): Mey Elsayegh, +961 3 229 352, [email protected] In Budapest: Corrie Butler, +36 704306506, [email protected] In Ankara: Elif Isik, +90 5398575197, [email protected] Photos of this emergency are available to download and use here.

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| Basic page

ESSN storytelling project

Through the Emergency Social Safety Net (ESSN), we supported Syrian refugees living in Türkiye to tell their stories about the realities and issues that matter to them. This page is dedicated to showcasing the stories of Ahmed, Asmaa, Noor, Alaa, Farouk, Abdurrezak, Luai and Malak in their own words.

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| 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]

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| 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.

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| Press release

€325 million boost to EU’s largest ever humanitarian programme, reaching 1.5 million vulnerable refugees in Turkey

Thursday, 2 December: Ankara, Turkey - More than 1.5 million refugees in Turkey will continue receiving critical support thanks to a €325 million boost from the EU’s largest humanitarian cash programme, the Emergency Social Safety Net (ESSN), in partnership with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), and the Turkish Red Crescent Society in close coordination with the Government of Turkey. In a press conference today in Ankara, Turkey, Janez Lenarčič, EU Commissioner for Crisis Management said: “Thanks to new EU funds announced today, we will be able to continue the ESSN programme throughout 2022. This support is a critical lifeline for thousands of families, many of whom have been especially hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic. This cash assistance enables them to decide for themselves what they need most urgently, whilst contributing to the Turkish economy.” Turkey currently hosts the largest refugee population in the world, many of which are Syrians. The ESSN has been providing monthly financial assistance via the “Kizilaykart” debit card since 2016, helping families cover their most essential needs, such as food, rent, transport and medicine. The additional funds from the European Commission will continue until early 2023. Refugee families currently receive 155 Turkish Lira (about €10) monthly per person with additional quarterly top-ups based on family size, enabling them to decide for themselves how to cover what they need while contributing to the local Turkish economy. The cash assistance, which is aligned with the existing Turkish safety net, currently supports around one-third of the vulnerable refugee population in the country. Jagan Chapagain, IFRC Secretary General said: “We are seeing the destructive secondary impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly for those most vulnerable, including refugees. We’ve heard from families who are making impossible decisions – between covering their bills, feeding their families, or keeping their children in school. Now more than ever, this cash assistance is critical – it is a lifeline for so many.” New research from Turkish Red Crescent and IFRC has shown that debt levels among refugees in Turkey have more than doubled since the COVID-19 pandemic began with just under half of those surveyed not having an acceptable food consumption, a 20 per cent increase in the last year. The cash assistance from the ESSN is providing an important buffer, with one in two people saying it has helped them manage their debt. Dr. Kerem Kınık, President of Turkish Red Crescent said: “Many vulnerable groups are facing one of their most difficult years, living in hard conditions. Many have come to Turkey for safety. Continued support to the ESSN will ensure families can keep a roof over their children's heads, feed their families and help them get through these difficult times.” AV materials Photos from the visit Additional b-roll on the ESSN programme Background European Union: The European Union and its Member States are the world’s leading donor of humanitarian aid. Relief assistance is an expression of European solidarity with people in need all around the world. It aims to save lives, prevent and alleviate human suffering, and safeguard the integrity and human dignity of populations affected by disasters and crises. Through its Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations department (ECHO), the European Union helps millions of victims of conflict and disasters every year. With headquarters in Brussels and a global network of field offices, the EU provides assistance to the most vulnerable people on the basis of humanitarian needs. The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is the world’s largest humanitarian organization, reaching 150 million people in 192 National Societies, including Turkish Red Crescent, through the work of 13.7 million volunteers. The IFRC acts before, during and after disasters to meet the needs and improve the lives of vulnerable people. The IFRC has been leading large-scale cash programmes for decades in response to a broad spectrum of disasters around the globe. The Turkish Red Crescent (Türk Kızılay) is the largest humanitarian organization in Turkey, helping vulnerable people in and out of disasters for years, both in the country and abroad. Since 2012, the TRC has been providing first-line response to the refugee influx, supporting millions of people in camps and urban settings. Through their leading cash team and the “Kizilaykart” debit card, the TRC supports millions of vulnerable refugees and Turkish communities to cover their basic needs. The Turkish Red Crescent, IFRC and EU work in coordination with the Government of Turkey and its Ministry of Family and Social Services. The Government of Turkey is an important partner of the Emergency Social Safety Net programme, which is linked to the existing social system in Turkey. The country hosts the world’s largest number of refugees, and the Turkish Government plays a leading role, with regards to the response to the Syria crisis. For more information or to arrange an interview: European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations: Lisa Hastert, +905334125663, [email protected] IFRC: Corrie Butler, +90 539 8575198, [email protected] Turkish Red Crescent: Nisa Çetin, +90 554 8303114, [email protected]

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| Press release

IFRC: Delta variant a huge threat in Eastern Europe, South Caucasus and Central Asia

Budapest/Geneva, 6 August 2021 – The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is calling for more assistance and for vaccinations to be stepped up in Eastern Europe, South Caucasus and Central Asia, where rising COVID-19 cases and deaths triggered by the Delta variant are putting health systems under severe strain. Europe now has one of the highest per capita rates of COVID-19 in the world and has just passed 60 million coronavirus infections. There were sharp increases throughout July – and more than one million cases reported in the last seven days alone[i]. As the majority of Eastern Europe, South Caucasus and Central Asia is still unvaccinated, medical services in some countries are becoming overwhelmed. Birgitte Bischoff Ebbesen, IFRC’s Regional Director for Europe, said: “Time is of the essence. With the highly contagious Delta variant sweeping across the region, millions of people in fragile or unstable settings are at heightened risk. “With support from the IFRC, National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies are working tirelessly to help those in need, but additional support is needed to save lives and address long term socio economic and health effects. The new wave of the pandemic is having a knock-on effect and will significantly impact the wellbeing of the most vulnerable.” In Georgia, new infections have skyrocketed by 90 per cent in the last fortnight. Authorities had to expand the capacity of pediatric wards recently, as more children were getting sick, and the number of hotels used as clinics for people with mild symptoms is up. In Russia, daily infections have almost tripled since the beginning of June, with 23,000 on average in the past week. In Kazakhstan, Armenia and Azerbaijan hospitalisations are on the rise. The situation is also deteriorating in Ukraine, as well as in Turkey, Montenegro and Baltic countries. Younger generations, who often come last in vaccination campaigns, are being increasingly affected by COVID-19 in the region. This is adding pressure on health systems, as many need to be hospitalised, and can negatively impact other people around them too. Ebbesen highlighted that vaccination is the key to curb the spread of COVID-19, together with maintaining crucial preventive measures such as mask wearing, hand washing, physical distancing and meeting outdoors or in well ventilated spaces. However, there is a widening gap across Europe: in the richest countries, 60 per cent of people had received at least one dose of the vaccine as of 27 July, as opposed to less than 10 per cent in the lowest income countries in Eastern Europe, South Caucasus and Central Asia. “Vaccination, not vaccines, saves lives. Donors, governments and civil society, we must all do our part so that vaccines get into the arms of those who need them most. “But this depends largely on the availability of doses and people’s willingness to get immunised. It is essential to collectively step up our assistance so that everyone has access to vaccination and nobody hesitates whether to get a jab or not,” stressed Ebbesen. Worryingly, as holiday travel and easing of lockdowns further the risk of COVID-19 spreading, vital operational funds to support people in need are running out. “We are concerned about not being able to meet the growing needs, particularly as the socio-economic crisis deepens. Not even 60 per cent of IFRC’s COVID-19 Emergency Appeal is covered, which limits our capacity to provide basic humanitarian aid,” warned Ebbesen. [i] https://covid19.who.int/table For more information, please contact: In Budapest: -Ainhoa Larrea, +36 705 070 131, [email protected] - Corinne Ambler, +36 704 306 506, [email protected] In Geneva: - Teresa Goncalves, +44 7891 857 056, [email protected]

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| Press release

Hundreds of Red Cross Red Crescent volunteers responding to wildfires across Europe

Ankara/Budapest/Geneva, 2 August 2021 – Volunteers from Greece, Italy, Russia, Spain, and Turkey are responding to several wildfires raging across Europe. Scorching temperatures, high winds and tinder dry conditions have forced rescues by sea and land, with thousands of people fleeing for their lives with just the clothes on their backs. In southern Turkey eight people have died and scores are injured. Hundreds of animals have been killed and countless homes lost in the worst hit areas of Antalya and Bodrum. More than 2,000 Turkish Red Crescent staff and volunteers are on the ground. Shafiquzzaman Rabbani, Acting Head of Turkey delegation for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) said: “We are very concerned at this week’s weather forecast, with temperatures tipped to reach as high as 40 degrees Celsius in Antalya today. Teams of Turkish Red Crescent volunteers and staff are doing everything they can to assist those affected.” Turkish Red Crescent is providing food through its mobile kitchens, distributing water and hygiene kits, and providing shelter and psychosocial support to firefighters and affected communities. In Greece, Hellenic Red Cross rescuers and lifeguards have been evacuating trapped people by boat from the settlements of Kamares, Longos and Platiri. Earlier in the week they were helping the fire brigade quell a fire in Patras. Extreme temperatures forecast for this week have teams on high alert. Italian Red Cross has been assisting with evacuations in Sardinia and distributing water and food. They have delivered animal feed to farmers as fires continued over the weekend. More than 800 flare-ups were recorded this weekend, mainly in the south, and firefighters continue to flight blazes in Sicily. Spanish Red Cross volunteers have also been busy this weekend assisting at a fire at San Juan reservoir, 70km from Madrid, and 25 Russian Red Cross volunteers are still at the scene of a fire in Karelia, distributing food, water, bedding, hygiene kits and personal protective equipment to people affected. IFRC Europe’s acting head of Disaster, Climate and Crises Antoine Belair said the increasing number of wildfires year on year across the Mediterranean is linked to climate change causing more extreme weather conditions, including lower rainfall and higher temperatures. “Extreme weather conditions exacerbate risks of these events. Red Cross and Red Crescent National Societies remain on high alert, providing support to affected populations, in close coordination with national authorities and firefighter teams,” he said. Footnote: Advice on how to prepare for a forest fire can be viewed here. For more information, please contact: In Ankara: Elif Isik, +90 539 857 5197, [email protected] In Budapest: Corinne Ambler, +36 704 306 506, [email protected] In Geneva: Nathalie Perroud, +41 79 538 14 71, [email protected]

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| Press release

Refugees are paying the highest price in the COVID-19 pandemic

Geneva, 18 June 2021 – Ahead of World Refugee Day on 20 June, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) raises the alarm about the situation of refugees who are facing severe humanitarian hardships, which have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Jagan Chapagain, IFRC Secretary General, said: “Vulnerable groups, such as refugees, are paying the highest price in the COVID-19 pandemic. We are seeing alarming trends that show many refugees around the world are unable to pay for food or rent and are struggling to access health care and education. “Refugees have been disproportionately affected by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and have often been left out of socio-economic support policies. A large number of refugees have lost their sources of income or depleted their savings and are now adopting negative strategies to survive.” In Bangladesh, latest analysis carried out in refugee camps in Cox's Bazar by the Bangladesh Red Crescent Society – with support from the IFRC – reveals that communities are struggling to cover their essential needs, particularly due to COVID-19 related movement restrictions, health issues, restricted access to markets, and a recent major fire in the camps. Price hikes in local markets and further displacement caused by camp fires have pushed many families further into food insecurity. During April and May, around 30,000 refugees in the Cox's Bazar camps raised questions and concerns, with 63% seeking services, including urgent food relief and shelter. Just over one third (37%) requested health or medical care. In the past year, reduced presence of humanitarian organizations in the camps due to COVID-19 restrictions also led to an increase in child labour, sexual and gender-based violence and heightened risk of human trafficking. In addition, an increase in child marriage has been observed since the start of the pandemic, often seen as an alternative to education or work. In Colombia, border closures, movement restrictions and loss of livelihoods led to limited access to food and accommodation, with many refugees and migrants – most of whom are from Venezuela - eating only once per day. 18% of those surveyed by the Red Cross Red Crescent Global Migration Lab cited food security and malnutrition as the biggest risks for children during the pandemic. In Turkey, a recent study – conducted by the Turkish Red Crescent and the IFRC – indicates that, among the 4,500 refugee households surveyed[1], debt levels have increased by nearly 50% over the last year. Even more alarming is the fact that many families are unable or can barely afford to pay for what they need most, such as food (72%) and rent (66%). However, cash assistance provided by the EU-funded Emergency Social Safety Net (ESSN) is helping refugees to cover some of these costs. In order to cope with the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, refugees are increasingly relying on survival strategies, such as reducing food consumption, buying cheaper and less nutritious food, buying food on credit and borrowing money from relatives and friends. These strategies have negative consequences on health and well-being and contribute to worrying levels of food insecurity and skyrocketing debts for refugees. “Nobody should be forced to choose between giving their family food or paying their rent; nor face hunger or forced evictions,” said Jagan Chapagain. “Governments should work together with donors, international and multilateral organizations, private sector and civil society to effectively mitigate the negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on vulnerable groups, such as refugees and migrants. It's our shared responsibility to ensure that everyone can meet their most essential needs”. -- [1] Households receiving cash assistance from the EU-funded Emergency Social Safety Net (ESSN) are identified as “eligible” in the Intersectoral Vulnerability Study, while those not receiving support are “ineligible”. In Turkey, refugees are officially recognized as “foreigners who are under international protection or temporary protection”.

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| Press release

Red Cross Red Crescent warns of the devastating impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on children and young people in Europe

Budapest/Geneva, 7 June 2021 – The mental health consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic will have far-reaching impacts for entire generations, warned the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC). Several studies by Red Cross and Red Crescent societies across Europe show an alarming pattern, which requires increased efforts to tackle inequity and assist those most in need. Antónia de Barros Mota, head of Mental Health/Psychosocial Support for IFRC Europe, said: “The mental health consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic are like invisible scars or hidden wounds. Young people and children are suffering stress, bereavement and loneliness, which can worsen as time passes. Their parents may have lost their jobs. Lockdowns and other restrictions continue to hamper their access to education, training and work.” The disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has reached a critical point recently. Four university students took their own lives in a campus in southern France in the last quarter of 2020. French Red Cross set up a 24/7 rapid intervention team[i] to support those at risk. During the first six months they dealt with 11 students including eight who required immediate hospitalisation. “With end of school year exams approaching, staff and volunteers are on high alert,” explained Sara Salinas, coordinator of the French Red Cross emergency service in the county. A Spanish Red Cross study[ii] among families with young children revealed the majority now live in extreme poverty. Nearly 40 per cent are unemployed and three quarters cannot afford expenses such as glasses or hearing aids for their children. Most parents reported feeling worried or stressed, impacting their ability to emotionally support their children. Research by Austrian Red Cross[iii] found sleep and eating disturbances among children had doubled, and that after the second lockdown in 2020, 16 per cent of children interviewed in North Tyrol (Austria) and South Tyrol (Italy) were likely to develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Refugees and migrant children are also significantly affected by the pandemic. A Turkish Red Crescent and IFRC study[iv] found a third were unable to access online school lessons. Another study with German Red Cross in Turkey showed that when forced to stay home children displayed more behavioural problems, and traumatic memories were triggered for some. Europe has had more than 54.6 million COVID-19 cases and 1.1 million deaths to date[v] – a third of infections and fatalities worldwide. Declining trends are promising, but the pandemic’s effects could be long-lasting. “Authorities and civil society organizations must scale up programmes and resources to help vulnerable youth and children – including basic livelihoods assistance and tailored mental health and psychosocial support. It is crucial to promote resilience at the individual level and within society as a whole,” de Barros Mota concluded. Since the beginning of the pandemic, IFRC and Red Cross Red Crescent societies throughout Europe have provided mental health and psychosocial support to 1.8 million people. [i] https://www.croix-rouge.fr/Actualite/Coronavirus-COVID-19/Un-dispositif-de-soutien-inedit-pour-les-etudiants-en-detresse-psychique-2487 [ii] https://www2.cruzroja.es/-/el-96-de-las-familias-con-hijos-de-0-a-6-anos-atendidas-por-cruz-roja-esta-en-riesgo-de-pobreza-y-exclusion-social [iii] Silvia Exenberger; Anna Wenter; Christina Taferner; Nina Haid-Stecher; Maximilian Schickl; Barbara Juen; Kathrin Sevecke; Heidi Siller. "The experience of threat through Covid-19 in children: Gender as moderating factor" has been received by European Child & Adolescent Psychiatry. The submission id is: ECAP-D-21-00298, May 2021 [iv] https://media.ifrc.org/ifrc/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/Impact-of-COVID-19-on-Refugee-Populations-Benefitting-from-ESSN-Programme.pdf [v] https://covid19.who.int/

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| Article

“I am not one voice. I am the voice of refugees”: Here’s what one inspiring young Syrian wants you to know

Hi, my name is Reyan. I have many plans for my life and my future, for the world. I want to live a life full of happiness. I want to help every child… Reyan Reyan is a painter, writer and poet. Although she uses different mediums, the story in each poem, text and painting talks about one thing: her home country Syria. The 18-year-old young woman has been through a lot; a war, loss of her loved ones, and destitution. The pain, distress and hardship can be easily seen in her drawings and words on a frequent basis. However, her determination, strength and hope are also there. The young and promising artist wants to accomplish a lot in the face of the darkness that fills her art sketchbooks and notebooks. As the Syrian war approaches the 10-year mark, here is a letter in her own words, what she wants you to know: “I am hearing a voice calling me from afar: “Girl, get up, the darkness is getting stronger and fills the country. Get up. Come on, do not give in. The darkness is getting worse. Injustice has begun. The war has eaten us with an unknown mouth. Rise up and raise your voice for the right to peace. Do not be afraid. We are with you. We all want peace; we all want our rights.” I am not one voice; I am all your voices. I am us and you are me. Let us end the darkness and let the light begin again to unleash it. I am a simple girl; I aspire simple things. Despite darkness, injustice, poverty and oppression, despite everything, I just want you to help me reach my voice. I want injustice, bullying, poverty to stop. I want peace for us. I want to defend all our rights to end the black war. An inner voice expresses my story, pain and patience. I could have told you about my story, but my story is a story of a story: homeland.” Like Reyan, many people have had to find refuge from the Syrian war and taken shelter in neighbouring countries. Funded by the EU Humanitarian Aid, the Emergency Social Safety Net (ESSN) cash assistance is helping 1.8 million refugees in Turkey to have much-needed stability by covering their most essential needs so that they can fulfil their dreams. -- 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.

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From borrowing money to independence: Refugee family becomes debt-free with cash assistance

Ömer Eddağavi and his family have been living on unstable income since arriving in Turkey six years ago after fleeing conflict in Syria.Relying on seasonal work on farms, forced Eddağavi to borrow money from relatives and friends when there was no job to feed his family.“It is so hard to be dependent on debts when you are responsible for a crowded family. Because you don’t know if you will be able to borrow money next time,” said Eddağavi.However, since the day they started to receive the monthly cash assistance offered by the IFRC and the Turkish Red Crescent, with funding from the European Union, Eddağavi and his family broke the vicious cycle of debt to stay afloat.“Thanks to god, we can live without being in debt and pay our bills,” said Eddağavi.More about the Emergency Social Safety Net (ESSN)  Funded by the European Union’s Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO), IFRC and Turkish Red Crescent are providing monthly cash assistance via debit cards to the most vulnerable refugees in Turkey under the ESSN programme. This is the largest humanitarian programme in the history of the EU and the largest programme ever implemented by the IFRC.ESSN is providing cash to the most vulnerable refugee families living in Turkey. Every month, they receive 120 Turkish Lira (18 euros), enabling them to decide for themselves how to cover essential needs like rent, transport, bills, food, and medicine.*This story was originally published on Turkish Red Crescent’s kizilaykart.org website and adapted by the IFRC.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.

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12 months of coronavirus in Europe

The moment the first coronavirus case was reported in Europe – on 24 January 2020, in Bordeaux, France– no one could have possibly imagined the monumental scale of the year of loss and struggle ahead. Nor could they have foreseen how Red Cross and Red Crescent National Societies stepped up their activities across Europe and Central Asia, enabling them to be at the heart of the response. Staff and volunteers from the movement have been running first aid tents, delivering critical supplies to the elderly, caring for the sick and dying, at the end of the phone for people unable to leave home. They’ve provided food, shelter, a kind word and a friendly face, supported those who fall through the cracks – the migrants, people on the move, people who are homeless. They’ve provided trusted information. The numbers are staggering. More than 12.5 million people across the region have received food and other material aid from Red Cross Red Crescent[1]. More than 2.8 million people have received direct cash or voucher assistance and 1.3 million more received psychosocial support to help them through the tough times. Red Cross Red Crescent ambulances carried more than 325,000 COVID-19 patients to hospitals. Accurate information was shared to help inform people about the virus and how to stay safe, and an estimated 60 million people in the region have been reached with this messaging. The breathtaking spread of the virus With Italy the centre of the first wave, and the first country to go into lockdown, it remained the hardest hit country in Europe for months. Italian Red Cross was the first National Society in Europe to deliver food and medicine to people in quarantine, and ramped up their ambulance service to cope with the escalating number of people infected. By March Europe was the epicentre of the COVID-19 pandemic, so much so that on 18 March more than 250 million people were in lockdown in Europe. And now, nearly 12 months after the first case, sadly by 19 January 2021, 30.8 million cases were confirmed and 674,00 people in the region had died. [2] The Red Cross Red Crescent response needed to be swift. On 30 January the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared the COVID-19 outbreak a public health emergency of international concern and the following day the International Federation of Red Cross Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) allocated funds for a Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF) and a preliminary Emergency Appeal. With its long experience in health emergencies it anticipated COVID-19 could develop into a pandemic with a devastating humanitarian impact and sadly it has shaped up to be one of the world’s most challenging crises, affecting every corner of the region with everyone vulnerable to contracting this virus. In line with Red Cross Red Crescent’s unique role as auxiliary to government, and as a community-based and widely-trusted organization, in Europe region the Red Cross movement came up with innovative responses. The Austrian Red Cross developed a contact tracing app. British Red Cross surveyed people on their loneliness and pivoted to provide extra support for those newly alone. The Czech Red Cross trained volunteers to work in hospitals that had become overwhelmed. The Turkish Red Crescent researched people’s knowledge and attitudes towards the virus and pivoted to fill the gaps they discovered. Swedish volunteers helped children with their homework. The Red Crosses of the countries of Italy, Slovenia and Croatia worked together to get supplies across their borders to people in an isolated part of Croatia. Extra support was given to people with HIV in Eastern Europe and Central Asia whose treatment was disrupted by the pandemic. With the rapid surge in prevention activity, while case numbers grew at an alarming rate, by the end of Spring the situation had improved somewhat. By summer as numbers plateaued government restrictions relaxed. The movement urged people to stay the course and maintain prevention measures in the face of pandemic fatigue and a sense the worst was behind us. Second wave Sadly conditions deteriorated, leading to a second wave. From late July case and death numbers steadily worsened again. By October, the Europe region accounted for the greatest proportion of reported new cases globally, with over 1.3 million new cases in the last week of October, a 33% leap in cases in a week. The national societies doubled down. Many had by now switched to remote and on-line support, however 23 National Societies continued to deliver COVID-safe clinical and paramedical services, including those in Germany, Italy, Israel, Spain and the UK. As well they ran quarantine and testing stations, triage facilities and outpatient fever clinics to support the public emergency medical service, and provided mobile care services. Some National Societies also supported experimental treatments by collecting plasma from patients who recovered from COVID-19 and had antibodies, and in turn provided this plasma to hospitals to treat very sick patients. Countless training and guidance sessions for staff and volunteers on COVID-19 were helped across the region, on the proper use of personal protective equipment and ambulances cleaning and disinfection. Vaccines – a potential game changer By the start of December, the future started to look brighter. Countries started to plan for the possible arrival of vaccines, but this was taking place against a background of a relentless resurgence in the number of people infected with COVID-19. In the WHO Europe region, there had been more than 4 million new cases in November alone, with the region accounting for 40 % of new global cases and 50% of new global deaths. [3] The vaccine results have come to be seen a large part of the solutions to containing the virus, but it has brought with it the challenge of countering misinformation and building trust in vaccines, as well as managing expectations that they will bring about a quick end to the pandemic. IFRC has supported local efforts to educate communities about their safety and efficacy. Those hardest hit In January more evidence came to light of the disproportionate impact the coronavirus was having on older people when the IFRC’s Europe office published the results of a survey[4] which found older people had become sicker, poorer and more alone as a result of the pandemic. It added to a growing body of evidence that coronavirus had harmed the poor and most vulnerable the most, pushing millions more into poverty. [5] Sadly, migrants were also identified in new IFRC research as those least protected and most affected by the pandemic. [6] And now, as we enter the start of the second year of the pandemic under ongoing harsh lockdowns, many countries are starting to see cases stabilise and even reduce. This emergency has had significant challenges, including global flows of misinformation and disinformation, response fatigue and system-wide impacts of multiple waves of cases. The Red Cross Red Crescent movement is well-placed to do its part in the regional response given its extensive history with disease outbreak. And planners in the movement acknowledge that vaccines will not be the silver bullet to end this pandemic alone. Red Cross will continue to work with communities to ensure they are informed about the virus, how it spreads and what to do to keep safe. It’s continuing to advocate for tracing and isolation of people who are ill as a central part of the response. To keep in the fight against COVID-19, the entire population must stick to the preventative measures which have been proven to help stop the spread of the virus – even as a vaccine becomes more widely available. [1] https://go.ifrc.org/emergencies/3972#actions [2] https://covid19.who.int/ [3] https://www.euro.who.int/en/about-us/regional-director/news/news/2020/12/whoeuropes-year-in-review-2020 [4] https://www.ifrc.org/press-release/new-study-finds-coronavirus-has-left-older-people-poorer-sicker-and-more-alone [5] https://blogs.worldbank.org/voices/2020-year-review-impact-covid-19-12-charts [6] https://www.ifrc.org/press-release/migrants-and-refugees-least-protected-most-affected-covid-crisis-warns-ifrc-president

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