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19/11/2021 | Press release

“We need to do better” – IFRC report reveals gaps in child protection during climate related disasters

Kingston, Jamaica – November 19, 2021. Adolescents overwhelmingly feel that they do not have the information needed to be safe from potential violence, abuse, and exploitation in climate related disasters. This is one of the main findings of “We Need to Do Better: Climate Related Disasters, Child Protection and Localizing Action in the Caribbean,” a recent study conducted by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC). The report has revealed that even though climate related disasters affect each person in the region, children are particularly at risk. They make up a large portion of the population of the Caribbean and are most vulnerable to encountering violence, abuse, and exploitation in disaster settings, while systems to protect them do not always work. The study also highlights that there are no specific laws in place to protect children from violence, abuse and exploitation when disasters happen. Gurvinder Singh, IFRC’s Child Protection Senior Advisor and one of the authors of the report, said: “While children potentially have great leadership and innovation capabilities, unfortunately, their voices are rarely being sought out or heard. Furthermore, there is a huge deficit in meaningful opportunities for children to be engaged in decisions that affect them. This is especially prominent in the stages of preparing for and responding to disasters. Adolescents believe that even if they do participate, their opinions may not be taken seriously by adults.” By putting the voices, perspectives, and ideas of children at the forefront, the report seeks to understand the generally unexplored relationships between climate related disasters and children’s concerns around violence, abuse, exploitation, and mental health challenges. It also sends a warning to governments and civic organisations to play a more active role in the promotion of and respect for the rights of the child, especially with regards to the issue of child abuse and the need for urgent effective prevention programmes. Ariel Kestens, IFRC’s Head of Delegation for the Dutch-and English-speaking Caribbean, said: “It is critical that governments enhance domestic laws, invest in child protection systems, improve local coordination, train local responders, include protection and climate change in school curriculum, and collect sex-, age- and disability-disaggregated data in disaster responses. The IFRC Network across the Caribbean stands ready to support them to continue striving to meet the best interests of each child affected by more and more frequent, and destructive climate related disasters.” The report also recommends practical actions for the humanitarian sector, such as designing child-friendly communications, implementing community feedback mechanisms, including child protection in anticipatory action, integrating child protection across preparedness, assessments and planning, and creating spaces for children and adults to engage, support one another and find viable solutions to protection risks. The study was based on discussions and an online survey with 198 adolescents ages 14-17 years in the Bahamas, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago; interviews with 30 adults from different disaster and child protection agencies, and background research. It is part of the campaign “We Need to Do Better” by the IFRC to enhance protection of children in climate related disasters. The full report may be accessed here. The adolescent summary of the report is available here. For more information, please contact: In Jamaica: Trevesa DaSilva | +876 818-8575 | [email protected] In Panama: Susana Arroyo Barrantes | + 506 8416 1771 | [email protected]

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24/11/2021 | Article

Hope restored: Red Cross helps thousands across Caribbean through COVID-19 livelihood recovery programme

Kingston, Jamaica, 24 November 2021: After 20 months of the COVID-19 pandemic, the socioeconomic consequences of the virus have added to the devastating loss of lives and the severe impact on public health systems. In 2020, about 209 million people fell into poverty in the Americas region, a figure not seen since 2008. The income, savings and livelihoods of the most vulnerable families have declined, with many facing hunger, exclusion and unequal access to COVID-19 vaccines. This is evidenced in “Drowning just below the surface: the socioeconomic consequences of COVID-19,” a global study by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) that analyzes how women, migrants and inhabitants in precarious urban contexts have had the worst of it. The Caribbean is one region that has suffered greatly from the socioeconomic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. When the pandemic started affecting the Caribbean in early 2020, many countries resorted to COVID-19 lockdowns and restrictions to help curb the spread of the disease, resulting in the livelihoods of many people across the Caribbean being critically impacted. Jobs related to tourism were severely affected In Jamaica, workers in the tourism industry - a major source of income for the country – were among those who felt the impact the most. Oneil Atland, a river raft captain at the Carbarita River in the parish of Westmoreland, is among several rafters who offer river rafting services – a popular tourist attraction which allows guests to relax on a bamboo raft along the river and enjoy the scenery while learning about the rich history and culture of the country. “Things were great before the coronavirus, we had even built an area for rafters and guests to relax. However, since the coronavirus, we have been experiencing a downfall,” said Atland. With the COVID-19 lockdowns and restrictions on the island, tourist arrivals dropped drastically, which left Atland, and many others like him who provide tourist services, without their only means of income. In the neighbouring parish of St. Elizabeth, shrimp vendors who sell packaged peppered shrimps in Middle Quarters - a frequently visited tourist location - were also affected by the COVID-19 lockdowns and restrictions. “I started doing shrimp vending to help my elderly mother, but then I realized it was an opportunity to earn additional income which I could save and use to send my children to university. Since COVID-19 however, business has been bad as the tourists who used to pass by our shops and purchase shrimps, were no longer visiting the island,” said shrimp vendor, Natasha Malcom Williams. The Jamaica Red Cross (JRC), with support from IFRC, provided cash cards to 524 persons so far, helping to supplement their income and, in some cases, allowing them to purchase supplies needed to resume their business. Kevin Douglas, JRC Emergency Services Manager said “some rafters were able to purchase supplies to fix their rafts which became water-logged due to inactivity, and some of the vendors used the money received from the Red Cross to venture into other sources of income, such as selling fruits to community members.” In St. Lucia, women were similarly affected “COVID-19 disrupted the income of a lot of community members in Anse LaRaye, as many of them work in the hotel industry and became unemployed and could no longer care for their family members; some couldn’t even pay their rent,” said Diana Gabriel from the St. Lucia Red Cross. “It’s been very difficult. I’ve been out of a job since March 2020 and I have been searching for a job, but most companies aren’t hiring much anymore because not many tourists are visiting St. Lucia,” said Cassandra David, hotel worker and mother of three children. “Thanks to the Red Cross for helping me so I could provide for my kids,” she continued. Supported by IFRC, the St. Lucia Red Cross provided cash cards, supermarket vouchers and food packages to over 3300 affected families and also issued mosquito nets and insect repellants to help prevent the spread of dengue, another health issue which St. Lucia has also been tackling. Vicky Kenville, one of the recipients of the supermarket vouchers, said her entire family was affected by COVID-19 and in addition, her husband had met in a motor vehicle accident which made it even more difficult for her family. “I was so excited for the voucher from the Red Cross. When I went to the supermarket, every time I put an item in the trolley, I would smile and say if it wasn’t for the Red Cross, I wouldn’t be here shopping, because with none of us working due to COVID, it was very difficult to buy necessities,” said Kenville, who expressed gratitude for the Red Cross support which she said helped her overcome some of the difficulties her family faced due to loss of income. In Grenada, the Red Cross provided over 200 families from all parishes across the island with supermarket vouchers. Cindy Lewis, COVID-19 Project Manager with the Grenada Red Cross said that “with the supermarket vouchers, beneficiaries are able to shop directly for what they need and this gives them a feeling of independence.” Education sector also severely impacted The tourism industry wasn’t the only sector impacted by COVID-19. With most schools closed due to restrictions, and teachers and students resorting to online schooling, school gate vendors across Jamaica also lost their income, when they could no longer ply their wares in front of the school compound. “Since COVID-19, I haven’t been able to sell anymore because schools are closed and it has been very rough, because even though I try to hustle otherwise, it’s still not enough,” said Nadine Wray, school vendor and mother of four children, who noted that her children were not able to do online schooling because of lack of devices and internet. “The cash from the Red Cross is very timely,” she added. The IFRC network has reached over 200,000 people in eleven countries across the Dutch-and English-speaking Caribbean through provision of cash and vouchers, food and other in-kind assistance as well as skills development for livelihoods, among other interventions. The evidence confirms that these initiatives helped to contain the rise in poverty. Nasir Khan, IFRC Operations Coordinator for the Dutch and English-speaking Caribbean said: “We understand the severe hardships faced by many across the Caribbean due to COVID-19, and moreover some of these families were already dealing with overlapping emergencies. Through the livelihood recovery programme, we are able to help those who lost their income because of COVID-19, so they can have some level of hope and dignity and be empowered to keep moving forward despite the circumstances. We are very grateful to all our donors who have contributed to the COVID-19 Emergency Appeal, enabling us to reach those most vulnerable. However, the task is not over yet. The pandemic is still impacting millions of people across the globe, so it is important that we continue our combined efforts to make a real difference in their lives.” For more information, please contact: In Jamaica: Trevesa DaSilva, +876 818 8575, [email protected] In Panama: Susana Arroyo Barrantes, +506 8416 1771, [email protected] In Colombia: David Quijano, +57 3105592559, [email protected]

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15/11/2021 | Press release

IFRC and TNC urge governments to invest in climate change adaptation measures to tackle the climate crisis

Kingston, Jamaica – November 15, 2021: The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and The Nature Conservancy (TNC) are calling for governments to urgently invest in climate change adaptation measures to tackle the growing climate crisis in the Caribbean. The call follows two key climate events - the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of Parties (COP26) and the 7th Regional Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction in the Americas and the Caribbean (RP21). In the Caribbean, storm events account for US$7 billion in losses in average per year (or US$135 billion between 1990 and 2008). Research indicates that 70% of people in the Caribbean live near the coast, where vulnerability to climate change is higher. Studies have also shown that the impacts of climate change are unevenly weighted against the most underserved people – those who are the poorest, most exposed and have the least resources to withstand climate shocks and stresses. In addition, data from the IFRC’s World Disasters Report 2020 reveals that international climate and disaster risk reduction finance are not keeping pace with climate adaptation needs in low-income countries, and the countries with the very highest risk and lowest adaptive capacities are not being prioritized. In fact, less than 1 US dollar per person was made available for climate adaptation funding in high vulnerability countries. “The priority and focus should be the communities that are most exposed and vulnerable to climate risks and the Caribbean region has proven to be one of the most susceptible to climate-related disasters. Therefore, governments must ensure that all efforts and actions to address climate change must prioritize, and not leave behind, those most prone to its impacts,” said Velda Ferguson Dewsbury, IFRC Project Manager for the Resilient Islands by Design (RI) imitative in the Caribbean. Red Cross societies are on the forefront of helping communities to prepare for, respond to, and recover from climate-related disasters and see, every day, the rising risks for vulnerable people. Through projects like the Resilient Islands, the IFRC in partnership with TNC, has been working with communities to help them find innovative, low-cost, and sustainable nature-based adaptation and risk reduction measures. “Climate change isn’t a distant threat - it is happening now. We have all seen the visible impacts of climate change before our eyes such as more extreme weather and natural disasters, chronic drought and economic instability. While our work with the Red Cross is helping at-risk communities across the Caribbean to adapt to climate change, with the power of nature, we need more investments in these and other communities and we need joint actions from all relevant stakeholders,” said Eddy Silva, TNC RI Project Manager. The IFRC and TNC are working with communities in the Dominican Republic, Grenada and Jamaica helping them protect and restore natural habitats, such as mangroves, that help reduce the impact of severe storms and floods. Studies indicate that up to 65% of the increase in projected economic losses due to climate change could be averted through timely adaptation to climate change. In addition, nature-based solutions to minimize climate change can reduce 37% of greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. Resilient Islands incorporates ecosystem-based disaster risk reduction (Eco-DRR) measures, that harness natural systems to prevent and reduce natural hazards and climate change impacts. For example, by protecting and supporting the growth of coral reefs that provide cost-effective natural barriers, protecting our coasts from waves, storms and floods, or by planting more mangrove trees, which grow roots that mitigate coastal erosion, provide food and other services, and serve as nurseries for a diversity of fish species. These actions help communities reduce their exposure to hazards by identifying and lessening their vulnerabilities while at the same time enhancing their livelihood sources, as well as building their capacities and resilience to prepare for and respond to emergencies. The RI initiative aims to protect Caribbean people against the impacts of climate change not just by promoting the use of natural coastal and marine habitats to reduce risks, but also by helping governments, partners and communities implement sustainable development plans that prioritize nature. Resilient Islands is part of the International Climate Initiative (IKI). The Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU) supports this initiative on the basis of a decision adopted by the German Bundestag. For more information, please contact: In Jamaica: Trevesa DaSilva | +876 818-8575 | [email protected] In Panama: Susana Arroyo Barrantes | + 506 8416 1771 | [email protected] In Washington, D.C.: Claudia Lievano | +1 786 230-6144 | [email protected] In Geneva: Marie Claudet | +33 7 86 89 50 89 | [email protected]

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07/05/2020 | Article

Red Cross partners with international reggae star Bay-C to address COVID-19 stigma

Red Cross launched a music video emphasizing the importance of acting together to help slow and stop the spread of COVID-19, and to support each other to withstand the serious health, social and economic hardships. International reggae and dancehall star Bay-C lends his musical talent and celebrity status to support the work of the Red Cross as they continue to spread facts to help people keep themselves, their families and their communities safe and healthy during the COVID-19 pandemic. Speaking at the online premiere launch party, Bay-C said: “I am grateful to the Red Cross team for giving my team and I this opportunity. As artists, we have a responsibility to use our talents to not only entertain, but inform as well. Out of that vision I have created ListenMi News, a platform designed specifically to communicate memorable messages through music and visuals.” “Now, as the world continues to face this pandemic, we hope this video can be an added resource for the Red Cross, assisting with the important message of anti-stigma as it relates to COVID-19 across the Caribbean region.” In the Caribbean the Red Cross National Societies are supporting government ministries of health through many activities like contact tracing, providing psychosocial support, delivering hygiene and food kits to people in quarantine, and spreading correct information about the pandemic. With the COVID-19 pandemic constantly evolving, the message in the video is a timely reminder that facts not fear help us to curb the spread of the disease. The Jamaican Red Cross began the relationship with Bay-C and his team and they were a driving force in the creation of the music video. Kevin Douglas is the Disaster Management Specialist with the Jamaica Red Cross. “We are excited about the partnership and we are more than happy to champion this project because it resonates perfectly with the Red Cross principles of humanity and impartiality in addressing the issue of stigma and discrimination, which many people face amidst the COVID-19 pandemic,” Douglas said Walter Cotte, IFRC Regional Director for the Americas said he is proud of the work of Red Cross in reaching people with public health messages. “It is incredibly important to recognize the dedication and courage of Red Cross volunteers. We stand with you and we look to expand our support so that you have the resources to reach all those who are impacted by COVID-19 and need your help,” said Mr Cotte. “Although we are focused on addressing the pandemic, we cannot forget that the Caribbean could still face other disasters, which would be aggravated by isolation and quarantine measures. The Caribbean suffers as a result of climate change and now we are facing a hurricane season that experts say is complicated. Along with our work on COVID-19 we are helping communities be prepared for the 2020 hurricane season. We need to lobby the public and governments the importance of pre-positioning emergency supplies, which is currently complicated by the existing stores being emptied to meet the needs of COVID-19.” The Listen Mi News feature is just one of many tools that Red Cross National Societies in the Caribbean and around the world use to support communities in stopping the spread of COVID-19, while continuing to create stronger more prepared communities. View the video here: https://youtu.be/g-pFGfSVaMM This creation of this video would not be possible without support from the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, Jamaica Red Cross, UNDP, Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency, United Nations Office of the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, European Union Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid.

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16/07/2019 | Article

Strengthening Regional Readiness – Caribbean Prepares for 2019 Hurricane Season

♪ Water come inna mi room Huh huh! Mi sweep out some with mi broom Di likkle dog laugh to see such fun And di dish run away with the spoon ♪ It was catchy, it was humorous, it was enjoyed by persons as far as Nicaragua, however, it spoke to a very serious subject. It was a song about Hurricane Gilbert and the devastation wrought upon Jamaica in 1988. There are no wildly popular songs about Hurricanes Irma and Maria, perhaps because Lovindeer didn’t write one or maybe because, in this instance, the two hurricanes that came almost back to back caused so much destruction in 2017 that no humour could be found in the situation. In readiness for the 2019 hurricane season five international organisations, based in the Caribbean, are working with national disaster offices and communities to strengthen disaster preparedness. Saint Lucia, Dominica, Antigua and Barbuda, St. Vincent and the Grenadines as well as the Dominican Republic will improve preparedness during the hurricane season through improved localized early warning systems. Financial assistance was provided by the European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO). The project has a four-pronged approach that includes improving the coordination of aid organisations. After Gilbert many international aid agencies sent zinc to Jamaica because thousands of homes had lost their roofs. However, as Community Early Warning Technical Specialist of the International Federation of the Red Cross and the Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), Nicole Williams recalls, “there was no lumber on which to put the zinc or no nails to attach it to the houses.” This unfortunate circumstance did have a positive outcome - it led to the formation of regional organisations like the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA). However, the response to Hurricane Maria in Dominica demonstrated that there is still room for improvement. CDEMA and United Nations Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) have been working together to improve on the Regional Response Mechanism. As part of the project there was a Training of Trainers in Dominica where members of the Dominica Red Cross received instruction on how to deliver early warning systems to the community. Early warning systems are an important aspect of preparedness because allows for early action to save lives and protect assets. National early warning is often not specific to an at-risk community. New communications tools are preferred over traditional radio and television messages. Understanding from where people receive messages and their needs is essential. The needs of vulnerable groups like women or differently-able persons are better considered in the design of alert messages. Karen Lawrence who is attached to the Dominica Meteorological Service described the training as “empowering, knowledge sharing, networking, so much so that people will be so informed that they will be able to make the right decisions at the right time, hence mitigating against all impacts of disasters.” The international partnership aims is to work with national disaster offices and communities to improve preparedness. The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) leads the team on this project and works with national disaster offices to improve communications, test plans through simulations and support public awareness and education. Communities will develop a better understanding of potential risk which will encourage their members to take protective actions. Red Cross National Societies in the five countries, together with IFRC are supporting other local level actions. Ten communities will implement local early warning systems and will also be provided with the necessary technology to mitigate the risk. Early warning technology including rain gauges, flood staff gauges and warming signs. The technology is not limited to equipment but involves training of Community Disaster Relief Teams (CDRT) and the updating of disaster response plans which are tested through simulation exercises. There have been 9-15 storms predicted for the 2019 hurricane season with the probability of 4-8 hurricanes. There is the likelihood that 2-4 of those hurricanes will be major ones. As was seen with Irma and Maria in 2017, two major hurricanes can have a severe impact on the Caribbean so the international team recently got together at the World Bank’s Understanding Risk Conference in Barbados 27 May- 1 June 2019 to share progress and plan the next steps. Hopefully there will be no need for witty ditties to be sung after the 2019 hurricane season, but it has arrived so get prepared!

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