IFRC Secretary General on the year ahead: "Hope in the midst of hopelessness"
It’s easy to feel a sense of hopelessness these days – climate crises, people on the verge of starvation in parts of Africa, multiple wars, protracted conflicts, people having to leave their homes out of desperation, shameful cases of exclusion in many parts of the world, rising mental health crises, people not having basic access to water and sanitation. This list can go on and on.
While these crises are affecting everyone, the marginalized, excluded, and last mile communities are bearing the brunt of these crises disproportionately.
Some 43 years ago, I signed up to be a young volunteer of the Nepal Red Cross. I joined not knowing how my life would unfold and where this would lead. I didn’t fully understand then, but I do now – the mission and mandate of our IFRC network, and the fundamental principles that guide our work with a very simple vision--to make a positive difference in people’s lives.
Three years ago, we didn’t know the scale of impact of a global pandemic, international armed conflict in the middle of Europe and all other global crises we have been responding to.
In this context, let me share some of my reflections on the current state of play.
Reflection on the IFRC’s mandate and relevance
As the world grapples with “polycrisis”, our mandate becomes as relevant as ever, if not more.
The IFRC is at the forefront of humanitarian efforts in times of disaster, crises, and other emergencies. By providing immediate assistance and long-term sustainable development programmes, the IFRC network puts people at the centre of vital, life-saving assistance.
We work to strengthen the resilience of communities in vulnerable settings, ensuring they are better prepared for and better able to cope with our changing world. In a time of great global disparities in terms of access to services, we bridge the gap.
The role of truly local organizations like our member National Societies is critical to reach the most disadvantaged sections of societies. Localization is fundamental as crises grow; but resources do not keep pace with them. Business as usual is not going to work. True empowerment of community organizations and decolonization of aid will be critical in 2023 and beyond.
Reflection on our fundamental principles, particularly the principle of neutrality
The threat to our principles, particularly the principle of neutrality, lies in the fact that the international armed conflict in Ukraine has taken on a much-heightened political dimension. This has placed great pressure on the Red Cross Red Crescent Movement.
We must maintain a neutral stance and perform impartial aid operations, to ensure our principle of neutrality is observed. While we remain sensitive to the challenges emerging out of the conflict and we will be doing everything in our capacity to deliver on our mandate, it is essential that our fundamental principles remain the bedrock of our actions. Failing to do so will irreparably damage the notion of neutral, independent humanitarian action.
Amid rapid changes in the global humanitarian landscape, one thing remains constant – that’s our fundamental principles. Our values and principles transcend all the divisions that exist in the world.
Reflection on current trends
We closely monitor the global trends that impact our work. Climate and Environmental crises have been at the forefront. Social issues like the erosion of trust, migration and displacement, inequality, global health and food crises are directly linked to our mandate. Economic issues like the cost-of-living crisis and energy crises will impact our work. Technological issues, like the opportunity created by digitalization as well as the risks arising from the digital divide and those linked to humanitarian data security, will have to be considered. We must also be mindful of the global political landscape and current lack of global political leadership able to deal with multiple crises.
The international armed conflict in Ukraine will significantly impact the geopolitical landscape and will exacerbate the humanitarian situation across the globe. We must be humble enough to acknowledge that there is no humanitarian solution to most of these crises. There must be a political solution and we must support and advocate for the same.
Reflection on our ambitions
Our ambitions are simple as we deal with these trends.
We will continue to be bold in our support to our membership both on humanitarian action and in building resilience.
We will work harder to build a trustful relationship with our membership and governance structure.
We will invest more in National Society transformations leveraging the power of youth and volunteers. Advancing gender and inclusion will require consistent push.
We must do more to be a learning organization that continuously evolves. Within the family, we will continue to build mutually respectful movement cooperation.
We will expand our humanitarian diplomacy efforts and further strengthen our highly professional partnership with all partners. Further building on the new operating model and new resourcing architecture, we will develop more inclusive IFRC wide approaches.
We will accelerate our digitalization journey.
We will continue to strengthen agility and accountability. Respectful workplace, issues of fraud and corruption, sexual exploitation, abuse and harassment, racism, and discrimination will be dealt with proactively and decisively.
The world is full of daunting challenges. But it is also full of people and organizations committed to confront them and work together to bring about positive change. We are one of those organizations.
We will lead from the front, working with our membership and their volunteers. We will be bold in our actions, but calm and composed in our approaches.
There will of course be challenges along the way, but we will always move forward with integrity. We will have to be at our best when the challenges are the greatest. And we will have to always bring hope amid hopelessness.
| Press release
The world is not ready for the next pandemic, warns the IFRC
Geneva, 30 January 2023—No earthquake, drought or hurricane in recorded history has claimed more lives than the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the world’s largest disaster response network, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC). The shocking death toll—estimated at more than 6.5 million people—has inspired the humanitarian organization to take a deep dive into how countries can prepare for the next global health emergency.
Two groundbreaking reports released by the IFRC today, the World Disasters Report and the Everyone Counts Report, offer insights into successes and challenges over the past three years—and make recommendations for how leaders can mitigate tragedies of this magnitude in the future.
Jagan Chapagain, IFRC’s Secretary General, remarks:
“The COVID-19 pandemic should be a wake-up call for the global community to prepare now for the next health crisis. Our recommendations to world leaders center around building trust, tackling inequality, and leveraging local actors and communities to perform lifesaving work. The next pandemic could be just around the corner; if the experience of COVID-19 won’t quicken our steps toward preparedness, what will?”
The IFRC network reached more than 1.1 billion people over the past three years to help keep them safe from the virus. During that time, a theme that emerged repeatedly was the importance of trust. When people trusted safety messages, they were willing to comply with public health measures that sometimes separated them from their loved ones in order to slow the spread of the disease and save lives. Similarly, it was only possible to vaccinate millions of people in record time when most of them trusted that the vaccines were safe and effective.
Those responding to crises cannot wait until the next time to build trust. It must be cultivated through genuinely two-way communication, proximity, and consistent support over time.
In the course of their work, Red Cross and Red Crescent teams documented how the COVID-19 pandemic both thrived on and exacerbated inequalities. Poor sanitation, overcrowding, lack of access to health and social services, and malnutrition create conditions for diseases to spread faster and further. The world must address inequitable health and socio-economic vulnerabilities far in advance of the next crisis.
In its Everyone Counts Report—which surveyed National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies from nearly every country in the world—the IFRC found that teams were able to quickly respond to the pandemic because they were already present in communities and many of them had engaged in preparedness efforts, had prior experience responding to epidemics, and were strong auxiliaries to their local authorities.
“Community-based organizations are an integral part of pandemic preparedness and response. Local actors and communities, as frontline responders, have distinct but equally important roles to play in all phases of disease outbreak management. Their local knowledge needs to be leveraged for greater trust, access, and resilience,” states Mr. Chapagain.
“It has been a brutal three years, but we are releasing this research and making recommendations in an act of hope: The global community can learn lessons and do justice to this tragedy by being better prepared for future health emergencies.”
The World Disasters Report offers six essential actions to prepare more effectively for future public health emergencies. The Everyone Counts Report highlights the need for accurate and relevant data in pandemic preparedness and response. Both are available to practitioners, leaders, and the public.
Note to editors:
Photos and b-roll available here
In Geneva: Jenelle Eli, +1 202 603 6803 [email protected]
International Volunteer Day 2022: Believe in the power of kindness
Red Cross and Red Crescent volunteers are everywhere.You’ll find them in your street, in your local community, in every corner of the world.You may even be one of them.
Every day, our millions of volunteers bring kindness to those who need it—no matter who or where they are.
Whether it’s by offering a hot drink or food,
Listening to someone and supporting their mental wellbeing,
Delivering essential supplies or cash to remote communities,
Giving or teaching lifesaving first aid,
Offering people on the move a safe space to rest,
Or helping communities adapt to climate change.
Acts of kindness like these, even if they sometimes feel small, make a huge difference to the lives of people in crisis.
Because kindness is powerful.And kindness is contagious—one small act can lead to another, and another, and another.
"Throughout the year, our millions of volunteers have been bringing hope and help to hundreds of millions of people around the world."
IFRC Secretary General
At the IFRC, we believe in our volunteers. We believe in the power of kindness.
Humanity, our first Principle, starts with kindness.
And we believe we can all #BeHumanKind.
"I want to thank our Red Cross and Red Crescent volunteerswho are responding to every emergency, in every corner of the world, also in this very moment."
On International Volunteer Day, as with every other day of the year, we deeply thank our incredible, unstoppable volunteers.
You are appreciated. You are supported. You are valued.
| Press release
COP27: Now is the time to transform words into action
In response to the Sharm El-Sheikh Implementation Plan, a statement by President Francesco Rocca and Secretary General Jagan Chapagain of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC):
While leaders have been meeting at COP27 for the past two weeks, families are dealing with the very real impacts of extreme weather—unable to wait for promises to transform into action.
Over the past two weeks, the IFRC’s risk watch system put out alerts for some 14 floods in Africa, 18 in the Americas, 35 in Asia Pacific, five in the European Union and two in the MENA region. During this period, four named tropical storms threatened destruction. Wildfires have ripped through communities in ten countries, affecting more than 10,000 hectares. And on Friday, at least three people died as the result of floods in Kigali, Rwanda and 11 in Venezuela. In Ethiopia 185,000 people were displaced. Communities in Africa and Afghanistan continue to grapple with food insecurity, which are alarming compounding crises.
Loss and Damage landed on the COP agenda for the first time, and today world leaders have agreed to the establishment of new funding arrangements assisting developing nations, especially those most at-risk of the adverse effects of climate change. We welcome the finance pledges which have been made on Loss and Damage, which are historically important conversations and positive steps forward. These need to be complemented by new and additional finance that reaches the people and communities most at risk – and to be predictable, adequate, and flexible in order to address climate related crisis.
We are pleased to see the agreement to operationalize the Santiago Network on Loss and Damage to provide crucial technical assistance to reduce and respond to the impacts communities are already facing. However, we must raise our ambition to reduce emissions and this COP did not deliver on that front. Every increment of global warming matters to save lives and livelihoods, and is therefore critical to keep global temperatures below the 1.5C degrees warming limit.
We welcome the focus on Early Warning Systems in the Sharm El-Sheikh Implementation Plan, which reflects realities at the frontlines of the climate crisis that the IFRC has been bringing to the fore for over two decades. Reducing risk and saving lives, especially in last mile communities, is what our teams around the globe do every single day and it is heartening to see this work being expanded. To be most effective, early warnings must be followed by early action and these systems must be rooted in the communities—including those hardest to reach and families stuck in protracted crises.
As the humanitarian impacts of climate change keep growing, so too should the finance for adaptation, ensuring it reaches the most affected and most at-risk. As the legacy of the “implementation COP,” global investment needs to reach the local level.
It is time to turn words and commitments into action at the national level, to bring the agreement to life and make a real difference in the lives of people and communities most impacted by the climate crisis.
As the IFRC network, we are committed to scaling up local action to respond to the climate crisis, working with communities to build preparedness and resilience in face of rising risks and impacts.
Climate and environmental crises are a threat to humanity and we all have a role to play. Now we must look forward with focused determination and hope.
Our collective actions can inspire ambition we need to see in the world.
In Geneva: Jenelle Eli, +1 202 603 6803,[email protected]
| Press release
IFRC launches Global Climate Resilience Platform to support 500 million people on climate crisis frontlines
Geneva, 9 November 2022 – As COP27 gets underway what’s most urgently needed is clear: accelerated investment in communities on the frontlines of the climate crisis.
At a make-or-break moment, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is launching today its Global Climate Resilience Platform to increase the resilience of communities most vulnerable to the changing climate.
The new initiative aims to support 500 million people by raising at least CHF1 billion through a five-year global initiative focusing on early warning and anticipatory action, nature-based solutions, and safety nets and shock responsive social protection.
Secretary General of the IFRC, Jagan Chapagain, says:
“We've launched the Global Climate Resilience Platform to create transformational change through an immense scale up of investment at the local community level, heeding the call for faster and broader efforts to address the climate crisis.
“Real sustainable change can only happen when the people impacted are driving decisions. Funding local climate action without having to go through multiple layers is crucial if we are to be truly successful in building resilience from the ground up.”
Through the platform, the IFRC network will support meaningful participation and the active leadership of women, local communities, Indigenous peoples, youth and other marginalised and/or underrepresented groups in the development and implementation of locally led climate action in 100 countries most vulnerable to climate change.
President of the IFRC, Francesco Rocca, says:
"The critical challenge of this decade is how to support and finance climate resilience initiatives at a global scale. The key is found in the shift of power and resources to local actors.”
IFRC’s Making it Count: Smart Climate Financing for the Most Vulnerable People report has found that many highly vulnerable countries are not receiving the climate adaptation support they need and are being left behind.
On average, they received less than a quarter of the adaptation funding per person that went to low or very low vulnerability countries.
In addition, only an estimated 10% of funding is granted at the local level as donors instead favour large-scale national infrastructure projects that risk missing the mark for local communities.
Under Secretary General of the IFRC, Nena Stoiljkovic, said the platform focused on the key areas that had been identified as having the most potential for transformative impact at scale through increased investment and were expected to generate multiple dividends, including—first and foremost—saving lives.
She noted that the initiative will link sources of funding across humanitarian, development and climate funds as well as innovative financing mechanisms involving the private sector to meet its ambitious but critical targets.
Increased resilience also stimulates sustainable development and innovation and is a more efficient focus in humanitarian response: investing one dollar in climate resilience in communities can save six dollars of investments in disaster response.
In Geneva:Jenelle Eli, +1 202 603 6803,[email protected]
In Washington: Marie Claudet, +1 202 999 8689, [email protected]
In 2021 the IFRC network played a critical role in bringing help and hope to the world’s most vulnerable people. Delve into our latest annual report to learn about our achievements, our progress against our strategic priorities and how we used donor funds in 2021.
| Press release
Red Cross and Red Crescent leaders commit to accelerate efforts to tackle rising humanitarian challenges
Geneva, 23 June 2022 - The Council of delegates of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement concluded today in Geneva with commitments from Red Cross and Red Crescent leaders and youth representatives from around the world, to work together and scale-up efforts to take urgent action on a range of critical humanitarian issues.
Representatives of 192 National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) passed a series of resolutions to address a range of humanitarian challenges, including; the growing existential threats posed by the climate crisis; the escalating migration crisis; the devastating impacts of war in cities and the need to continue efforts to work towards the elimination of nuclear weapons.
"Urban warfare has a devastating humanitarian impact, including the appallingly high number of civilian deaths, the physical and mental suffering, the destruction of homes and critical civilian infrastructure, the disruption to essential services and the widespread displacement of people. We have seen that sad reality playing out in Libya, Syria, Ukraine and elsewhere. The Red Cross and Red Crescent must mobilise all its influence and resources to meet the challenges that lie ahead,’ said ICRC President Peter Maurer. ‘To be clear: the consequences of urban conflicts are not inevitable. They are the result of the behaviour of the parties fighting in these environments and we call for international humanitarian law to be upheld as an urgent priority’.
IFRC President Francesco Rocca said: “How we work to tackle and mitigate against the impacts of climate change will define our work, not just for the next few years, but for decades to come.
“All over the world, our volunteers and staff are working with people in their communities to help them adapt to the climate crisis and, frankly, they are demonstrating greater readiness, eagerness, and leadership than the majority of our global political leaders. We need action from them, not more words. And now.
“The same goes for the international migrant crisis. The Red Cross Red Crescent Movement speaks of leaving no person behind, of solidarity, and humanity. But, all over the world, we see world leaders failing to take the plight of migrants seriously enough and too easily prepared to neglect the human rights of those fleeing conflict, hunger, persecution, and, of course, those parts of the world where climate change has already done untold damage to their communities.”
Francesco Rocca, IFRC President, was re-elected to serve a second four-year term in office at the IFRC’s General Assembly on 19 June.
For more information on resolutions adopted at the Council of delegates is available here
For other information and interview requests, contact:
IFRC: Benoit Carpentier, Tel: +41 792 132 413 Email: [email protected] Paul Scott -+44 (0)7834 525650 email: [email protected]
ICRC ICRC: Ewan Watson - m. +41 (0)79 244 6470 email: [email protected] ICRC: Crystal Wells - m. +41 (0)79 642 8056 email: [email protected]
For further information about the statutory meetings please visit rcrcconference.org
Technological and biological hazard preparedness
Technological and biological emergencies, sometimes called 'CBRN' (short for chemical, biological, radioactive and nuclear hazards), can have devastating and long lasting impacts on people's lives and livelihoods. The IFRC supports National Societies worldwide to effectively prepare for and respond to technological emergencies using a multi-hazard approach.
| Press release
IFRC, WWF call for global action to protect nature to save lives and address climate crisis
Stockholm, 2 June 2022 - A new report shows that nature-based solutions could reduce the intensity of climate and weather-related hazards by a staggering 26 per cent, in a world where over 3.3 billion people live in places that are highly vulnerable to climate change. The study from the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and WWF highlights how the power of nature to protect people is being overlooked.
The report, “Working with Nature to Protect People: How Nature-based Solutions Reduce Climate Change and Weather-Related Disasters” shows how nature-based solutions can reduce the likelihood of climate change and weather-related events occurring. It sets out how lives can be saved by working with nature-based solutions to prevent exposure to these hazards and support vulnerable communities in adapting to and withstanding the dangers of a warming world. For the first time, the analysis from IFRC and WWF shows that these solutions could provide developing countries with valuable protection against the economic cost of climate change, saving at least US$ 104 billion in 2030 and US$ 393 billion in 2050.
Communities in every region of the world are already experiencing worsening and increasing impacts of climate change, with vulnerable people in low resource countries the hardest hit, and women and children often the most exposed. From 2010 to 2019 alone, sudden-onset climate change and weather-related disasters killed more than 410,000 people.
Jagan Chapagain, IFRC Secretary General said: “The climate crisis is driving multiple humanitarian crises around the world. Its impact on the lives and livelihoods of millions of people is intensifying. Greening nature; restoring forests, farmlands and wetlands are some of the best and most cost-effective ways to support vulnerable communities to adapt to risks and impacts they already face. Protecting nature will protect people.”
Marco Lambertini, Director-General of WWF, said: “Let’s be clear. If we don’t urgently scale up efforts to limit the impacts of a warming world, more lives will be lost, and economies and livelihoods affected. Nature is our greatest ally and also a crucial buffer against climate change. By restoring and protecting it, we can help ecosystems build resilience and continue to provide crucial services to humanity and in particular to the more vulnerable communities.
“Nature-based solutions play a key role in addressing climate change, but the potential benefits of these solutions drop as the global temperature rises - which is why every moment and decision matters to cut emissions and give us the best chance to build a safer and more equitable future.”
Examples of effective nature-based solutions that address climate change include:
Conserving forests to restore degraded land, provide food, guard against droughts and protect communities from strong winds.
Restoring healthy floodplains and wetlands to reduce the impact of floods and promote sustainable agriculture to protect against droughts.
Restoring mangroves and coral reefs to provide a protective barrier from storms, soak up planet-warming carbon dioxide and provide food for local communities and habitats for marine life.
The report kickstarts a partnership between the IFRC and WWF. The report will be launched at Stockholm+50, a UN environmental meeting where leaders will reflect on 50 years of multilateral action. The partnership aims to raise awareness about nature-based solutions and encourage governments, communities, donors, practitioners and the private sector to incorporate nature in their climate adaptation and disaster risk reduction planning.
Notes for editors:
Nature-based solutions are actions to protect, sustainably manage and restore natural or modified ecosystems that address societal challenges and climate change effectively and adaptively, while providing benefits to human well-being and addressing biodiversity loss. Learn more here.
The full report is available for download here.
The report will be launched at an event at Stockholm+50 on 3 June at 13:00 CEST. This UN environmental meeting provides leaders with an opportunity to reflect on 50 years of multilateral action to deliver the bold and urgent progress needed to secure a better future on a healthy planet.
The report describes the enabling factors that have supported successful nature-based solutions initiatives and the challenges that are preventing the scale-up of these solutions. A series of case studies highlights IFRC and WWF’s work in the space, shows the potential of nature-based solutions, provides key lessons to guide practitioners in future implementation, and presents how supportive legal and policy frameworks are critical for scaling-up nature-based solutions for building climate and disaster resilience.
For media queries and interview requests, contact:
WWF International Media team: [email protected]
IFRC: Melis Figanmese, +41 79 202 2033, [email protected]
IFRC: Melissa Winkler, +41 76 240 0324, [email protected]
| Press release
Global COVID-19 Summit: “World leaders must step up and ensure that everyone, everywhere has access to vaccines, tests and treatments.”
Geneva, 12 May 2022 - During the second Global COVID-19 Summit co-hosted by the White House, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies’ (IFRC) Secretary General Jagan Chapagain underlined the network’s commitment to delivering COVID-19 vaccines, tests and treatments to the most vulnerable and building back stronger health systems.
While many countries have successfully rolled out COVID-19 vaccination campaigns, vaccine coverage remains below 10 per cent in many low-income countries including, Papua New Guinea, Democratic Republic of Congo, Haiti or Madagascar. Low-income countries can also not afford tests and other lifesaving tools such as antiviral drugs or oxygen supplies, leaving millions at risk of contracting the virus and suffering its deadly consequences.
Mr. Chapagain said:
“World leaders must step up and ensure that everyone, everywhere has access to vaccines, tests and treatments. This means targeting those who are most vulnerable, have the greatest needs and are the hardest to reach. This pandemic is still spreading and killing people. It is too soon to drop our guard and give up our global efforts against COVID-19.”
Since the start of the pandemic, National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies have supported more than 400 million people to access COVID-19 vaccination and provided mental health support to over 13 million people in 152 countries. Because they are part of the very communities they serve, their role is also critical to building trust, informing communities about public health measures and boosting vaccine uptake.
For example, across Asia and the Pacific, millions of volunteers have helped tens of millions of people get vaccinated against COVID-19. Afghanistan has one of the world’s most fragile health systems and has vaccinated only 12% of its population with two doses. The Afghan Red Crescent has been operating a 50-bed hospital dedicated to COVID-19 patients and provided food or cash to more than 165,500 people. More than 1 million people were screened through their Mobile Health Teams and clinics in 2021.
In Namibia where only 16% of the population has been fully vaccinated, the Namibia Red Cross has led a “get vaccinated – kick COVID-19 out of Namibia” road show campaign. Red Cross volunteers walk through the streets in communities around the country, carrying signs, singing songs, and leading chants about vaccination. At COVID-19 vaccination sites, Red Cross volunteers also support registration for vaccination and data entry and provide basic first aid.
During the Summit, Mr. Chapagain expressed IFRC’s support to a pandemic financing mechanism that would allow community actors to access funding to strengthen community health systems and to increase their resilience to future health threats.
Mr. Chapagain said:
“We need to prepare for the next pandemic now. The world wasn’t ready for COVID-19, but we can be for the next pandemic. We must harness the lessons, successes and failures from the response to COVID-19 and build towards a future where communities are equipped to respond to the next health crisis.”
To request an interview or for more information, please contact:
In Washington: Marie Claudet +1 202 999 8689, [email protected]
Click here to discover more examples of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies' vaccination activities during COVID-19.
World's largest youth organizations agree new strategic collaboration with the WHO to build a healthier, more equal and youth-led future
Geneva, 13 May 2022 - Today, CEOs and youth leaders from the Big 6 Youth Organizations met with leaders from the World Health Organization (WHO) to discuss the role of young people in leading COVID-19 response and recovery efforts and agree on a ground-breaking strategic partnership and collaboration of engaging young people in future health-related crises.
The partnership agreements signed by five of the Big six are designed to increase multilateral collaboration and put young people at the heart of decision making, whilst the IFRC will use its existing partnership to achieve this goal. This represents an important milestone in the successful collaboration between the Big 6, the WHO, and the Global Youth Mobilization (GYM), a movement of young people taking action to address the negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, and to build back better.
Young people today face an unparalleled time of challenge. In addition to the direct health impacts exacerbated by the pandemic, young people continue to be disproportionately affected by disruptions to education, loss or lack of employment opportunities, domestic and gender-based violence, and mental health challenges.
The new strategic agreements build on the Global Youth Mobilization, a successful initiative launched at the end of 2020 and supported by WHO and the UN Foundation through the COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund. The Global Youth Mobilization enables the rapid disbursement of micro grants to tens of thousands of young people worldwide to help develop solutions to ensure their communities emerge from the pandemic stronger than before. Through the “Local Solutions”, young people are driving change and implementing solutions in response to COVID-19 by taking action through community-based interventions and voluntary services. The initiative is powering change at a national level too through the engagement and activation of Big 6national organizations across the world.
The collaboration between WHO and the Big Six Youth Organizations includes a focus on the areas of mental and physical health, health promotion, sexual and reproductive health and rights, and climate and health.
Commenting on the strategic collaboration, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General, said:
“WHO is proud to support the global movement to engage and empower young people as a driving force in the recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. Working with the Big 6 and the United Nations Foundation has provided a unique opportunity to learn from millions of young people and be guided by their enthusiasm and ideas to help communities build back better.
What the Big 6 have achieved in a year through launching and implementing the Global Youth Mobilization is phenomenal and unparalleled in the youth development sector. We look forward to continuing our support through these new partnership agreements and encourage others to partner with the Big 6 and invest in the health and well-being of future generations.”
Anna Segall, CEO of the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts and Chair of the Global Youth Mobilization, said:
“We believe in young people’s agency and know that with the right support and opportunity they can imagine and lead the solutions to the global challenges we face today.
In coming together through the Global Youth Mobilization, the Big Six Youth Organisations have shown that by listening to young people and providing them with the space and resources to act, our organisations and young people can make a huge collective impact.
We look forward to continuing this vital work through our new strategic collaboration with the World Health Organization. By supporting young people to improve their mental and physical health, sexual and reproductive health and rights and tackle the impact of climate change we can work together to create a better, fairer future for all.”
Meti Gemechu, Youth Board Representative for the Global Youth Mobilization and World Young Women’s Christian Association, said:
"Through the Global Youth Mobilisation, we have proved that we are not the problem but in fact the solution to not just building back from the pandemic but building back better. With innovation, relentless energy and dedication to bettering our communities young people have led the response and recovery efforts. The Global Youth Mobilization is a critical actor in bringing together everyone for a future we want to be a part of."
During the three-day visit the Big 6 shared highlights and recommendations with multinational agencies, institutions, governments, policymakers and corporations to prioritise the needs of young people from the Global Youth Mobilization "Powering Change: Young People Leading the COVID-19 Response and Recovery” impact report.
To date the Global Youth Mobilization has already resulted in 200,000 young people actively engaged in addressing the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic in their local communities. They have been at the forefront of the pandemic recovery, delivering over 260 projects to date in 77 countries and supporting 800,000 community beneficiaries.
For more information contact:
Sam Williams, Global Youth Mobilization, Project [email protected]
Paleni Amulungu, Global Youth Mobilization, Digital Communications, Partnerships and Advocacy [email protected]
Amjad Saleem, IFRC Inclusion, Protection and Engagement Manager [email protected]
Click here to learn more about the IFRC's work in engaging young people around the world.
The IFRC was created to bring kindness – and kindness is needed more than ever
“The world is bleeding, and it needs help now”.
Stark words of warning from a humanitarian leader shaken by a brutal war and living under the shadow of a global pandemic.
I did not pen these words. They were written in 1919, by Henry Davison, the leader of the American Red Cross.
His big idea was that the world’s Red Cross societies – which were set up after the movement was created by Nobel Laureate Henry Dunant in 1863 – should come together as a force for good at all times, and not only during wars. Davison firmly believed the kindness and expertise shown by Red Cross volunteers should benefit humanity in other times as well.
And thus, the League of Red Cross Societies was born, on the 5th of May 1919. There were five founding Red Cross Societies – those of the United States of America, Italy, Japan, France, and the United Kingdom. By the end of that year, the League had 30 members.
The League changed its name to the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies – the IFRC – in 1991. We now have 192 member National Societies, with more in formation.
The core of the idea has stayed the same while the scope of the IFRC network has grown massively, in reach and in impact.
In 2020, 14.9 million Red Cross and Red Crescent volunteers reached more than 688 million people with disaster and other emergency response work; some 306 million with health activities, and 125 million with clean water and sanitation assistance.
These are impressive figures, but the scale of the humanitarian needs continues to grow every year. Right now, countless people across the world need urgent support.
The conflict in Ukraine and the stress placed on its neighbouring countries is just one example. The lingering physical, social and economic damages inflicted by the global COVID-19 pandemic is another. Alongside these disasters is the ever-present, and worsening, threat of climate change.
With challenges like these, can a simple idea – like the one that led in 1919 to what is now known as the IFRC – still help to heal the world? I believe it can – and will. We know what works, and we’ve been proving it for more than a century.
It’s one human being reaching out to support another human being in crisis, at the community level, where it is always needed the most.
It’s ensuring that local volunteers and local organizations have the resources, training and as much (or as little) international support as they need to respond to disasters and crises. It’s making sure their voices are heard, and their interests represented, on the international stage.
And it is working to bring that support to the most marginalized communities and individuals, no matter where they are, and without any discrimination as to who they are.
It is – put simply – kindness.
I first joined my National Society, the Nepal Red Cross, as a volunteer more than three decades ago. I was trusted – and therefore able to meet and support the people in greatest need – because I was part of their community, I spoke their language, and I understood their concerns. And the key to understanding what people needed was kindness.
Over the years, the IFRC has evolved alongside the communities we support. We have adapted our ways of working, expanded our expertise as different vulnerabilities and stressors emerge, and have been agile enough to pioneer and then mainstream new approaches to humanitarian support.
We have led on the development and widespread acceptance of cash assistance as the most effective and most respectful way to support people in need. After all, people who have lost everything in a disaster or conflict should not have to lose their dignity as well.
And we are driving change in how disaster risks are managed and reduced through anticipatory action, where local communities are supported to reduce their risks, and immediate funding can be triggered once scientifically-measured thresholds are reached.
None of this work would be possible without the kindness of our 14.9 million Red Cross and Red Crescent community-based volunteers.
On World Red Cross and Red Crescent Day, 8th May, we will encourage people around the world to believe in the power of kindness and #BeHumanKIND.
The world is still bleeding. It still needs help. But there are nearly 15 million reasons to believe in kindness, and to have hope.
If you'd like to read more about the history of the IFRC, visit our history and archives page.
And check out the hashtag #BeHumanKIND across all social media channels this week to see how our National Societies are celebrating World Red Cross and Red Crescent Day.
Heat Action Day
Climate change is turning up the heat around the world. But together, we can #BeatTheHeat! Heat Action Day on 2 June is a global day for raising awareness of heat risks and sharing simple ways to #BeatTheHeat.
World Red Cross and Red Crescent Day
8 May is World Red Cross and Red Crescent Day—a global day to celebrate the uniqueness and unity of our International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement.
Hello, world! Welcome to our new IFRC.org
Welcome one and all to the brand-new website of the IFRC.
Whether you’re a volunteer, a staff member from a Red Cross or Red Crescent Society, a supporter or partner of our work, or a member of the public visiting us for the first time – we’re delighted you’re here.
While this site has technically been up and running since September 2021, today marks a special occasion. For the first time in our history, our website is now available in all four working languages of our network: English, French, Spanish and Arabic.
As the world’s largest humanitarian network, it’s only right that we reflect the incredible diversity of our membership and make our work accessible to as many people as possible.
Every page of this website has been translated into these languages so we can better serve our members and our audiences. You can easily navigate between the different language versions by using the drop-down button at the top of every page.
What will you discover?
Our new website is so many things.
It’s a news desk, full of the latest updates and expertise on humanitarian issues and emergencies.
It’s an advocacy platform for the world’s most vulnerable people.
It’s a stage upon which our 192 unstoppable Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies shine bright.
It’s a place where you can donate to the biggest disasters facing our world right now, or to the smaller ones you may not have even heard about in the news.
It’s a hub for learning – on everything from the climate crisis and community health to disaster preparedness and migration.
It’s a transparent window into how we work and the biggest issues we want to tackle as a network.
And so much more.
With this new website, we want to show you the power and reach of the world’s largest humanitarian network.
A big thank you
This new multilingual website was made possible thanks to the hard work of so many staff from across our Secretariat and beyond, and to the kind support of the Kuwait Red Crescent, French Red Cross and Spanish Red Cross.
Today is just the beginning, and we will strive every day to make this website better, more engaging and more accessible for you: our audiences.
It’s a pleasure to share with you something that has been long in the works and of which we are so proud.
Thank you for reading and happy browsing!
If you’d like to provide feedback on our new website, please contact [email protected]
Act now to save lives and prevent migrants from going missing
Thousands of migrants go missing or die each year along migration routes. In 2018, United Nations Member States committed to “save lives and establish coordinated international efforts on missing migrants” by adopting the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (GCM). Four years and more than 15,000 documented deaths later, efforts to provide a meaningful response to this ongoing human tragedy cannot be put off any further.
As heads of the United Nations Network on Migration’s Executive Committee, the International Committee of the Red Cross, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and the International Commission on Missing Persons, we call on States to urgently assume collective responsibility to save lives and prevent migrants from going missing or dying along migration routes and to search for and identify those who have gone missing and to assist their families. This is in line with the GCM, including Objectives 8 (save lives), 5 (regular pathways), 7 (reduce vulnerabilities in migration), and 23 (strengthen international cooperation) and with relevant obligations under international law.
With migration policies becoming ever more restrictive and as safe and regular migration pathways remain out of reach for so many, including in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, many people seeking family reunification, decent work, dignity, better opportunities or who are compelled to leave owing to disasters and precarious situations have few options other than irregular migration along riskier routes and are often forced to rely on smugglers to facilitate the passage. The consequences are acutely visible: from the Mediterranean Sea, the Atlantic Ocean, and the Andaman Sea, to the Sahara Desert, and along migration corridors in the Americas, the death or disappearance of migrants has become all too frequent.
Over the past eight years, more than 47,000 people have died along these and other routes around the world. Many more deaths go unrecorded. This figure does not include the thousands of migrants who go missing each year because they are unable to establish contact with their families -- whether victims of enforced disappearance, detained or stranded, hiding for fear of arrest or deportation, unaccompanied and separated children or those who have been severely injured.
When people go missing along migration routes, their families often face devastating socio-economic, psychological, administrative, and legal consequences. The disappearance of a relative is not only cause for anguish, but it may affect access to property, inheritance, parental or social welfare rights.
Addressing these dynamics is the responsibility of all countries -- of origin, transit and destination – and requires multi-stakeholder efforts, involving both local and national actors, and in which the voices of migrants and engagement of affected families remain central.
We are also particularly alarmed about the growing trend of criminalizing or obstructing efforts to provide life-saving humanitarian assistance, including search and rescue efforts and medical care to migrants in need, which runs contrary to the commitment expressed in Objective 8 of the GCM.
We call on States to respect obligations under international law, including human rights law, upholding the right to life and right to health for all individuals, irrespective of nationality, ethnic or social origin, gender, migration status or other grounds, the right to family life, the best interests of children, and the absolute prohibition of enforced disappearance or arbitrary detention, amongst others.
Ahead of the first International Migration Review Forum (IMRF) to be held from 17-20 May 2022 to review progress made in implementing the GCM, we also call on States to:
Prevent migrants from dying or going missing by:
Prioritizing and cooperating in search and rescue operations to render assistance to migrants regardless of their migration status, including through clear and predictable disembarkation mechanisms that ensure that survivors are delivered to a place of safety and that all children receive adequate non-custodial care and reception;
Supporting the efforts of humanitarian organizations and crews of commercial vessels, where appropriate, to provide lifesaving assistance, healthcare and protection to migrants at land and at sea, and refraining from criminalizing, obstructing or otherwise deterring the efforts of those who provide such assistance;
Assessing the impact of migration-related laws, policies and practices on a regular basis and revising those, as necessary, to ensure that they are in line with international legal obligations and do not create or exacerbate the risk of migrants dying or going missing;
Enabling migrants and their families to establish, restore, or maintain contact along migratory routes and at destination;
Creating and strengthening possibilities for safe and regular migration in a manner that upholds the right to family life and responds to the needs of migrants in a situation of vulnerability as well as practices for admission and stay based on compassionate, humanitarian or other considerations for migrants compelled to leave their countries of origin.
Search and identify those who have died or gone missing by:
Setting up transnational mechanisms to allow for information exchange and coordinated efforts across countries of origin, transit and destination to search for and identify those who have died or gone missing, in cooperation with relevant stakeholders, including the families of the missing, while respecting the right to safety, privacy and data-protection standards;
Regularly collecting and making data on migrant deaths and missing migrants publicly available in accordance with the right to privacy and data protection.
Provide support and redress to the families of those who have died or gone missing by:
Providing avenues through which families can register cases of missing persons and obtain information on search efforts, while respecting the right to privacy and protecting personal data;
Ensuring that families of missing migrants in countries of origin, transit and destination are able to exercise their rights and access services and other support to meet their specific needs;
Ensuring access to justice, accountability and redress for migrants and their families by carrying out independent, impartial and thorough investigations into all allegations where migrants’ lives or safety were endangered in the course of their journey and where they were subjected to violations of their rights, whether by State or non-State actors, including as a result of aggravated smuggling or trafficking;
Establishing procedures for the dignified recovery, identification, transfer and burial of the remains of deceased migrants, and appropriately notifying and assisting their families in this regard.
While there is much more to be done, there is a growing body of practice, knowledge and guidance that can inform coordinated efforts to translate commitments under international law and the GCM Objectives into reality. International, regional and sub-regional bodies can play an important role in facilitating these efforts, together with local actors and communities.
Ahead of the IMRF, we call on States to make concrete commitments and pledges to action, to mobilize efforts to save lives and prevent migrants from going missing.
Our organizations stand ready to support States to implement these commitments to ensure that humanitarian principles and the human rights of migrants and their families remain at the center of all actions.
António Vitorino, Director-General of the IOM and Coordinator of the UN Network on Migration
Guy Ryder, Director-General of ILO Michelle Bachelet, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights
Liu Zhenmin, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs
Achim Steiner, UNDP Administrator Filippo Grandi, UN High Commissioner for Refugees
Catherine M. Russell, Executive Director of UNICEF
Ghada Fathi Waly, Executive Director of UNODC
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of WHO
Peter Maurer, President of the ICRC
Francesco Rocca, President of the IFRC
Kathryne Bomberger, Director-General of ICMP
The United Nations Network on Migration was established to ensure effective, timely and coordinated system-wide support to Member States in their implementation, follow up and review of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration. While the Network’s mandate is focused on the GCM, States are called to also implement these recommendations as relevant to refugees and to protect the human rights of everyone equally, regardless of migration status.
For more information and media requests, please contact: Florence Kim, at the UN Network on Migration secretariat: [email protected]; +41 79 748 03 95.
Learn more about the IFRC's work supporting people on the move. And click here to read our policy brief on the GCM.
| Press release
COVID-19 two years on: A new normal for some while millions still at risk, warns Red Cross Red Crescent
Geneva, 7 March 2022 – Two years into the COVID-19 pandemic, as many countries are declaring the crisis chapter over, millions of lives are still at stake. Much of the world lacks the high vaccination coverage, strong healthcare systems or testing capacities to be able to transition to “a new normal”. Until everyone has access to the same tools to fight and recover from COVID-19, this crisis cannot be solved and will continue to impact everyone.
Francesco Rocca, President of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), said:
“'Living with the virus’ is a privilege that many countries and communities around the world cannot enjoy. Ensuring equitable access to vaccines, diagnostics and treatments will not only save lives, but will also protect the world against the emergence of new and more dangerous variants. It is the only path to normalcy. None of us is safe until we all are.”
Red Cross Red Crescent staff and volunteers are working around the clock to bridge the equity gap ensuring that vaccines make it from the airport tarmac into the arms of vulnerable, at-risk, and marginalized individuals and communities. Their role is crucial, not just in helping people to get vaccinated, but also in informing communities, building trust, and dispelling misinformation about COVID-19 vaccines. Since the outset of the pandemic, they have reached over 300 million people through immunization activities.
In countries like Zambia, where health systems are fragile and rumors around vaccines are spreading fast, vaccine supply is just one of numerous obstacles. The Zambia Red Cross Society (ZRCS) has set up a mobile COVID-19 vaccination campaign, bringing vaccines directly to people in hard-to-access areas. Volunteers mobilize communities for vaccination, raise awareness about the mobile vaccination centers, provide information about vaccines and engage local leaders as advocates for healthy behavior change.
In Afghanistan, a new wave of infections is hitting hard, and the country’s health system is struggling to cope. Afghan Red Crescent is ramping up services at its health clinics across the country and its COVID-19 hospital in Kabul, while supporting nationwide vaccination efforts and running information campaigns on preventing the spread of the virus.
In the Pacific region, the virus is running rampant in several countries for the first time. This record surge of infections is threatening to overwhelm hospitals and health systems. In countries like Fiji and Vanuatu, with more than 165 inhabited islands, Red Cross volunteers have been travelling by car, boat and foot to reach remote communities to increase awareness about COVID-19 and get people vaccinated.
COVID-19 has not only thrived on longstanding inequities but also intensified them, pushed families into poverty, and increased domestic violence and mental health issues. Women, urban communities and migrants have been disproportionately affected by the devastating socioeconomic impacts. More than 5 million children have also lost a parent or another caregiver to COVID-19. Psychosocial support has been at the centre of our work, and volunteers are seeing a significant rise in mental health support needs.
Francesco Rocca, President of IFRC, said:
“This pandemic is not just a health crisis. Entire communities will continue to endure socioeconomic and mental health impacts for years to come. We cannot let COVID-19 become the disease of the world’s poorest and most vulnerable. It is critical that the global response and recovery include everyone and focus on building resilient communities and stronger health systems.”
For more information or to arrange an interview, contact:
In Geneva: Marie Claudet, +1 202 999 8689, [email protected]
In Geneva:Tommaso Della Longa, +41 79 708 43 67, [email protected]
Click here to learn more about the IFRC's COVID-19 emergency appeal.
| Press release
Scientists confirm climate change already contributes to humanitarian crises across the world
Geneva, 28 February 2022 – The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) calls for urgent local action and funding, particularly for those most vulnerable, to combat the devastating humanitarian impacts of the climate crisis confirmed in today’s report by world’s climate scientists.
For the first time, the report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) published today notes that climate change is already contributing to humanitarian crises in vulnerable contexts. In addition, climate and weather extremes are increasingly driving displacement in every region of the world.
IFRC Secretary General Jagan Chapagain said:
“The IPCC report confirms what the IFRC and its network of 192 National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies have already witnessed for years: Climate change is already disrupting the lives of billions, particularly the world’s poorest who have contributed the least to it.”
“The global response to COVID-19 proves that governments can act decisively and drastically in the face of imminent global threats. We need the same energy and action to combat climate change now, and we need it to reach the most climate-vulnerable communities across the world so that they have the tools and funding to anticipate and manage risks.”
The report, authored by more than 200 climate experts, reaffirms the key principles that the IFRC network has been calling for to tackle climate change; that local action is key in tackling climate change and that responding to disasters after they happen will never be enough to save lives and combat a crisis of this magnitude.
The latest science confirms, with very high confidence, that climate impacts and risks exacerbate vulnerabilities as well as social and economic inequities. These in turn increase acute development challenges, especially in developing regions and particularly exposed sites, such as coastal areas, small islands, deserts, mountains and polar regions.
Maarten van Aalst, coordinating lead author of the report and Director for the Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre said:
“This report is a flashing red light, a big alarm for where we are today. It tells us in unequivocal scientific language that the window for concerted global action to secure a liveable future is rapidly closing. It demonstrates that all the risks we were concerned about in the past are now are now coming at us much faster.”
“But the report also shows that it is not too late yet. We can still reduce emissions to avoid the worst. Alongside, we’ll have to manage the changes we can no longer prevent. Many of the solutions, such as better early warning systems and social safety nets, have already proven their value. If we raise our ambition to adapt to the rising risks, with priority for the most vulnerable people, we can still avoid the most devastating consequences.”
Notes to editors
National Red Cross Red Crescent Societies not only respond to disasters when they occur, but also play a critical role in preventing hazards such as floods and heatwaves from becoming disasters. Working at the front lines in communities before, during and after disasters, they know what is needed to respond to climate crises and help communities prevent and adapt to the rising risks of climate change. The IFRC aims to support member National Societies to reach 250 million people each year with climate adaptation and mitigation services to reduce suffering and vulnerability.
For more information or to arrange an interview:
In Geneva: Caroline Haga, +358 50 598 0500, [email protected]
Rights-free b-roll and images related to this press release are available to download and use here.
IFRC statement at the World Health Organization (WHO) Executive Board 150th session
The IFRC was born in the wake of the 1918 pandemic, and epidemic preparedness and response are part of our DNA.
We have a historic opportunity to reform the global health architecture this year. Let me propose 3 lenses through which we should measure success:
First, epidemics thrive on socio-economic and geographic inequities, affecting levels of trust, access to health services and quality of surveillance - let us not ignore this and over-medicalize our discussions.
Second, it is crucial that domestic disaster laws and frameworks, including public health emergencies, go beyond IHR capacities to be truly comprehensive and inclusive.
Finally, having effective vaccines, tests and treatments available at scale is critical, but it will not ensure their uptake or availability in communities. Community engagement and health systems are key to leaving no one behind.
The IFRC and its 192 member National Societies stand ready to share their legal and health expertise and recommendations to ensure reforms are not only powerful on paper, but transformative in reality.
Click here to learn more about the IFRC's work in health and care.
| Press release
"Never before has the need for a localized approach to crises been so evident"
Geneva, 27 December 2021 - “As we end this year, and on this International Day of Epidemic Preparedness, I would like to pay tribute to the brave and invaluable contributions of frontline responders. For the past two years, they have helped to detect and slow the spread of COVID-19, to treat and support those most affected, and dispel myths and rumours about the virus, vaccines and the wider response. They continue to support our communities worldwide. While some literally gave their lives to keep others safe, governments struggled, and are still struggling, to pull together a global coordinated and inclusive response.
“Never before has the need for a localized approach to crises been so evident, but it cannot fall on the shoulders of local responders alone. The international community can, and must, do better by them. Unique opportunities to put communities at the centre of the response are laid before us in 2022, from the upcoming White House COVID summit and the launch of Global Vax to the reconvening of Member States to agree on an international instrument to strengthen preparedness and response to pandemics. We urge decision-makers to strengthen recognition of, and support to, community engagement and feedback mechanisms, community health systems and community surveillance and preparedness programs.
“Public health emergencies are our past, our present, and we will face them again. Based on the IFRC’s years of experience in responding to health crises around the world, and on our network’s mandate to assist Governments with legal preparedness for disasters and public health emergencies, we stand ready to continue to support communities and respond to their needs.”
For more information
In Geneva: Ann Vaessen, +41 79 405 7750, [email protected]
Learn more about our work in epidemic and pandemic preparedness.
| Press release
Migrants across the world must have access to life-saving assistance and protection
Geneva, 17 December 2021 – In a year marked by exacerbated difficulties due to Covid-19 and climate-related disasters, the humanitarian situation of migrants around the world has worsened, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) warned ahead of International Migrants Day on 18 December.
Francesco Rocca, President of the IFRC, said:
“2021 has been another terrible year for migrants across the world. Far too many migrants continue to face significant humanitarian needs with devastating consequences, with many taking life-threatening journeys, others excluded from essential services and critical protection, and yet more facing hostility and exclusion in countries of transit and destination. Governments have the duty to protect human dignity and save lives, and humanity must be at the centre of any and all decisions. When did we forget that?”
To date, the numbers of migrants have reached record levels at 281 million across the world. While many migrants are able to search for a better life in a safe way, thousands continue to embark on dangerous, life-threatening journeys with only the clothes on their backs. In 2021 alone, more than 1,600 people are reported to have died or gone missing on the Central Mediterranean route and more than 1,000 in the Americas, but the actual numbers are thought to be much higher.
Climate-related disasters have already forced millions of people to flee their homes and the numbers are expected to continue to increase in the years to come. The socio-economic impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic in the past two years have also hit migrants particularly hard due to pre-existing vulnerabilities, precarious livelihoods, lack of state support as well as movement restrictions. Migrants have also been disproportionately affected in terms of health care and lack of access to vaccines.
“All over the world, migrants face enormous risks to their lives, safety, dignity, human rights and well-being. Governments must provide people on the move access to adequate food, shelter, basic healthcare, and legal advice about their rights irrespective of migration status. At the same time, humanitarian organisations must be granted unconditional access to provide humanitarian assistance to all people in need,” President Rocca added.
The IFRC network has a global presence along migratory routes, including at sea on the world’s deadliest route in the Central Mediterranean, providing humanitarian support to migrants throughout their journeys - in countries of origin, transit and destination. In at least 110 countries and in a coordinated manner across borders, National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies provide life-saving assistance and protection to migrants regardless of their legal status, based on their needs and vulnerabilities.
“On this International Migrants Day and every day, we will continue to make the voices of migrants in vulnerable situations heard. No human being is illegal, and we will not stay silent as their mistreatment continues. Now is the time for all governments to finally show some humanity,” President Rocca concluded.
For more information or to arrange an interview, contact:
In Geneva: Tommaso Della Longa, +41 79 708 4367, [email protected]
In Geneva: Ann Vaessen, +41 79 405 77 50, [email protected]
Our Global Plan outlines the world’s most pressing humanitarian issues and our approach to ensure that each of our 191 National Societies has the support they need to respond to crises and build community resilience.
| Press release
“Impulsive reactions are an affront to the global solidarity we need to successfully respond to a crisis of this scale.”
“The consensus reached among Member States this week to commit to a legal instrument that has preparedness, equity and a whole-society approach at its centre, is crucial. That the discussions this week took place in the shadow of Omicron, could not more clearly evidence the need for global collaboration to prepare and respond to pandemics.
“But broad principles agreed are not enough. When Member States next meet, they will need to drill down on exactly what is required to achieve these. We also need to keep in mind that this process is an opportunity to address the mistrust that has plagued the response, and so we urge member states to keep communities at the centre of discussions. We need to build on what has been learnt and instrumentalize an approach to global pandemics that is powerful on paper, and transformational in reality.”
Commenting on the Omicron variant discovery, Chapagain added:
“It has been an illusion to believe that speedy vaccination in some countries, while massive pockets of the world remain without access to vaccines, will bring this pandemic to an end. And instead of applauding the great science and the transparency that helped to uncover a new variant, countries punished it with impulsive reactions. This is an affront to the global solidarity we need to successfully respond to a crisis of this scale.”
For further information
In Geneva: Ann Vaessen, [email protected], +41 79 405 77 50
| Press release
"The pandemic has both thrived on inequities and exacerbated them"
“The pandemic has both thrived on inequities and exacerbated them. Any new legal instrument, be it a treaty or otherwise, must affirm a commitment to equity: equity in access to health services and care, equity in access to vaccines, data, diagnostics and other treatments, and equity in access to recovery efforts, including economic recovery.
“Too often we neglect the important work of community-level responders. We need increased investments and coordination in programmes that put communities at the heart of the response.
“This pandemic has made it clear that we need bold new solutions – both in international and domestic laws – to avoid the same mistakes happening again.
“Public health emergencies are our past, our present, and we will face them again. The COVID-19 pandemic is not over, yet two years on we are still overly reactive and uncoordinated. Variants, like Omicron, will continue to emerge while the virus continues to circulate. Vaccine, data and knowledge equity are key to protecting the global population.
“Based on the IFRC’s years of experience in responding to health crises around the world, and on our network’s mandate to assist Governments with legal preparedness for disasters and public health emergencies, we stand ready to strengthen this work. Whatever the outcome of these sessions, it must not only be powerful on paper, but it must also be transformative in reality.”
For further information
In London: Teresa Goncalves, +44 (0) 7891 857 056, [email protected]
| Press release
Drowning just below the surface: New IFRC research reveals magnitude of socioeconomic impacts of COVID-19 pandemic
Geneva, 22 November 2021 – Women, people in urban areas and those on the move have been disproportionately and uniquely affected by the devastating socioeconomic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. These are some of the findings of new research published today by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).
The COVID-19 pandemic has had major economic impacts on every nation in the world. The IFRC’s new research also shows the extent of the pandemic’s secondary consequences on communities and individuals. This crisis has caused: increased unemployment and poverty; increased food insecurity; a higher vulnerability to violence; and a loss of education and reduced opportunities for children. It has also exacerbated mental health issues.
Francesco Rocca, President of the IFRC, said: “Our research shows what we have long suspected and feared, namely that the destructive secondary impacts of this pandemic have damaged the fabric of our society and will be felt for years, if not decades, to come. People who were already vulnerable, due to conflict, climate-change, and poverty, have been pushed further towards the edge. And many people who were previously able to cope have become vulnerable, needing humanitarian support for the first time in their lives.”
The new research provides a global overview, with a special focus on ten countries: Afghanistan, Colombia, El Salvador, Iraq, Kenya, Lebanon, Philippines, Spain, South Africa and Turkey. Overall, women had more significant impacts on their income, were at greater risk of COVID-19 due to caregiving roles, more exposed to sexual and gender-based violence and experienced mental health impacts to a greater degree than men. In urban areas, poverty rates grew, in some cases at a faster pace than in rural areas. People on the move were more likely to lose jobs or have their hours cut during the pandemic and have been widely neglected by formal protection and safeguarding measures.
Furthermore, a lack of preparedness made it harder for countries to build a comprehensive response to what has simultaneously become a public health emergency, global economic shock, and political and social crisis.
“As frontline community responders, National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies around the globe have been able to bridge the gaps in this response. They have a deep knowledge of the inequalities that exist and of how they are perpetuated and are therefore among the best placed to help people to recover from the harms to their livelihoods, health and education. But to continue to do so they will need significant additional support: both financial and political,” Rocca continues.
The report also reveals that the world is on course for a wildly unequal recovery, depending on the efficacy and equity of vaccination programmes.
“We have consistently warned that the inequitable distribution of vaccines will not only allow for high levels of transmission to continue, but that this inequity will also hinder, prolong, or exacerbate the impacts of this pandemic. While we continue to allow profits to trump humanity and richer countries continue to monopolize doses, we will never be able to say that this pandemic is over.
“The world must open its eyes, take heed of what is happening around them and shift from words to action. If not, we face the risk that the recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic will be just as uneven and unjust as the impacts of the pandemic itself,” Rocca concludes.
Click here to download and read the report (available in English, Arabic, French and Spanish).
For more information and to arrange interviews:
In London: Teresa Goncalves, co-author of the report and IFRC COVID-19 Communications Coordinator, +44 (0) 7891 857 056, [email protected]
Watch this short video about the report: