| Press release
Statement on suspension of the Peruvian Red Cross as a member of IFRC
Geneva, Switzerland, 12 August 2022 – The Governing Board of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) has voted to suspend the membership of the Peruvian Red Cross. The extraordinary decision—which takes effect today—comes after the Red Cross society was unable to take the necessary actions to remove the Peruvian Red Cross President from his position of power and address its institutional crisis.
The suspension follows a months-long investigation into the Peruvian Red Cross. The IFRC’s Compliance and Mediation Committee performed an extensive investigation into the accusations and provided detailed reports that confirm abuses of power by the Peruvian Red Cross President. The committee recommended a mediation process and removal of the Peruvian Red Cross President—neither of which have come to pass.
The decision also means that the Peruvian Red Cross President is sanctioned from holding any governance position at the IFRC.
Transparency and integrity are essential to the delivery of the Red Cross Red Crescent mission, which is why IFRC—the world’s largest humanitarian network—has protocols in place to sanction individuals and National Societies who do not live up to its principles. Though rare, these decisions ultimately make the Red Cross Red Crescent mission stronger.
In announcing the decision, Francesco Rocca, IFRC President, said:
“Suspending a Red Cross society’s membership is not a decision we take lightly. After extensive efforts to mediate the situation—and after an investigation found misuse of power by the President—we have no choice. We have an obligation to ensure the Peruvian Red Cross governance takes the necessary steps to rebuild.
“Let me stress that IFRC’s commitment to the people of Peru remains strong. IFRC will work to ensure that this decision does not compromise Red Cross support to communities in need.
“Peruvian Red Cross volunteers work tirelessly to help communities prepare for and respond to crises. While their lifesaving activities have been hindered by these administrative challenges, IFRC is hopeful that this decision will help them move forward in delivering our mission.”
IFRC will help develop a transition plan to ensure that services to vulnerable communities do not suffer.
IFRC has recommended the Peruvian Red Cross institute a plan of action to address its institutional crisis, which includes the following elements:
Put in place a transparent process for hiring an executive director in line with the statutes and regulations of the Peruvian Red Cross;
Hold elections at the branch level in a timely manner;
Revise the statutes of the Peruvian Red Cross through an inclusive process in consultation with branches and Board members;
Hold elections at the national level once the revised statutes of the Peruvian Red Cross have been approved in timely manner and as agreed between the National Society and the IFRC; and
Put in place a plan of action to address the recommendations of the audit report carried out for the years 2017-2019.
IFRC will lift the suspension if and when the Peruvian Red Cross takes the necessary steps to comply with recommendations and begins implementing an action plan to restore its integrity.
IFRC remains committed to supporting the renewal of an effective, vibrant, and viable Peruvian Red Cross—and encourages Peruvian Red Cross volunteers and members to remain engaged in the renewal of their National Society.
In the Americas: Susana Arroyo Barrantes - Communications Manager Americas, [email protected]
In Geneva: Jenelle Eli – Media Relations – [email protected]
Peruvian Red Cross
This National Society is currently suspended.
Peru: Supporting migrants in the middle of a pandemic
By Melissa Monzon
Luis was born in Caracas, Venezuela. Two years ago, he decided to leave his country, seeking for a better quality of life. He started his trip by bus, because he didn’t have all the documents to travel by plane. “When I arrived in Cucuta, I found the Red Cross, they gave me a kit with help for the road, because the trip was very long; I was traveling to Medellin”. Once in Medellin, he worked there for eight months, and then started his way to Lima, Peru. The road was not what he expected, once in Ecuador he encountered a series of protests and when he couldn´t continue with his trip, he had to stay two days in the station waiting to be able to take the bus to continue his journey. “When I arrived in Guayaquil, I once again found a Red Cross tent, they help us all, they gave us a food kit, things for personal care and medicine”, says Luis. Then he continued his route until he arrived in Lima.
Once in Lima, a friend offered him a job selling food. “I worked hard every day, we had several problems, but we persisted, working in an exhausting schedule”. However, due to the pandemic, he could no longer continue working. “As I worked on the streets, with COVID-19 we couldn´t work anymore. It hit us pretty hard, because that was our only income”.
Luis has a bicycle, and now that Peru is opening up some economic activities, he is already looking for a job, offering his home delivery service. “As I am a migrant, I don´t have a subsidy from the government. For this reason, every day, I go to the markets, looking constantly for a job, I hope to find it soon”, says Luis.
A year and seven months ago Yudi came from Venezuela to Peru with her family, seeking a better quality of life. In order to be able to make the trip, they sold everything they had. Peru was their destination since the beginning, as they heard that they were handing out the temporary residence permit, with which they could work and earn a living legally and honestly, as she tells us.
“My daughter has epilepsy, this also made us take the decision to migrate. We needed to go to a place, to a country where they could offer her medical care and get the medicines that she so badly needs.”
Before Yudi traveled, her brother and nephews had already arrived. After they proved that they felt Good here, Yudi traveled with her sister, her two sons and her two dogs, who are also part of the family.
Once in Lima, Yudi worked as a tutor for online courses until November 2019. Due to the pandemic, her sister and son were also unemployed; her nephews, who had a food business, had to close it. “The situation is quite uncertain, we don´t know what will happen”, says Yudi.
Jesus came from Venezuela to Peru four years ago. His trip was by bus, because he didn´t had enough money to travel by plane. He first arrived in Ecuador, where he stayed for two months, and then arrived in Peru in 2016. “When I arrived, everything seemed nice to me, although I didn´t knew many things, I felt out of place, I was only twenty years old. I lived in one room and shared a bathroom with sixteen people. I worked as a waiter in a restaurant; until today I am very grateful to those people because I didn’t have the documents at that time, and they always treated me well”, says Jesus, who already knows the city today, has Peruvian friends and colleagues, and tell us that thanks to them he has been able to learn more about the country’s culture.
Eventually he moved to an apartment and went from waiter to manager of a restaurant. “I met very nice, spectacular people, they gave me a lot of support, I learned a lot of things, because when I left Venezuela, I was a student, I didn’t have work experience.”
Due to the pandemic, Jesus no longer has a job because the restaurant where he used to work decided to close. “I lost my job; it was alarming because I lived alone. I was worried, but happily I had contact with some friends who decided to move in with me.”
Jesus tells us that another great concern of not earning an income is not being able to send money back to his mom and dad who live in Venezuela. He, like so many other migrants, is a source of income for all those families who stayed in their countries.
“I try to see the positive things in everything. When the quarantine begun, I tried to organize myself a little more, I sold some stuff, and I tried different things to distract myself, I tried to do exercise a lot, pray a lot, watch the news and communicate with my family in Venezuela.”
Pedro left from Venezuela to Colombia a year and a half ago searching for work, while his wife Maria, traveled to Peru. After two months, they met each other in the latter country. Once in Peru, Pedro worked in a restaurant. “It was very difficult because I have never worked in a kitchen before, but I did my best, my wife was pregnant at the time. I always tried to do my best, until I was stabled at my job. I worked hard, obtaining each of the things that I have today in my home, and helping my family in Venezuela, where I have two children. Fighting every day for the welfare of my family”, says Pedro.
In the context of the pandemic, Pedro lost his job. In one of his wife’s pregnancy test, they test him for HIV, the result tested positive. “I have been very pleased with the treatment they have given me; I have received excellent attention and information. I am very grateful with the hospital, with its staff, with the help here in Peru, they have helped us a lot. They have given me pills, information, everything I needed”.
Despite his degree of vulnerability, Pedro has gone out to work on the streets, as he is the livelihood of his family both in Peru and in Venezuela. “I have gone out but taking all the preventive measures, with my mask and my hand sanitizer. I need to go out to work, especially for the baby who needs food”.
“I am very grateful to be in Peru, and I continue with great desire to continue working and fighting for my family, and for those we love the most, to help my children in Venezuela, and we will be here until God allows it, and then to be able to return to our country someday and to enjoy our people”, concludes Pedro.
Luis, Yudi, Jesus y Pedro are some of the people who are part of the Cash and Voucher Assistance program implemented in Peru by the Red Cross with the support of the European Union. This program is aimed at families in a vulnerable condition, who have been left without financial support due to the pandemic. As part of the program, families receive a card with an economic amount to cover their basic needs.
In the testimonies collected, the families have shared with us that the card has allowed them to cover expenses mainly for rent, food and health.
*This name was changed to protect the person who kindly gave us his testimony.
Peru: “Being a nurse allows me to share, talk and get to know the needs of migrants”
By Melissa Monzon
Andres Yares has been a volunteer for the Peruvian Red Cross over seventeen years, and since 2019 he has been supporting as a nurse in health activities directed at migrants. “In 2019 I started working in this project, helping in the community health days. We visited many districts on the outskirts of Lima, where there were not only migrants, but also local people in great need, and we gave medical attention to everyone”, says Andres. “For me it is important to work with migrants because they are people who, in addition to not being in their country, have many unmet needs. Many of them do not have access to health care or have had to stop their treatments because a medical appointment was too expensive for them.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Peru has kept his borders closed from March 16 to date. Hundreds of migrants who were on transit have been unable to leave the country. Also, many of them who are already established in the country have run out of sources of income, so they cannot cover expenses such as rent. A large percentage of these migrants don’t have access to the Peruvian health system, and in a context such as COVID-19, they are left unprotected, increasing their health risks.
For this reason, since April 03, the Red Cross has been providing health care in different shelters in various districts of Lima, the capital of Peru, which is home to approximately 80% Venezuelan migrants who are in the country.
Since March, the community health days had to take a turn, since the country was quarantined for more than three months. So, Andres, together with the project team, began visiting different shelters where migrants and refuge applicants of nationalities stayed.
“Something that stands out a lot of my work, beyond the medical care, is be able to share, talk with them, about their needs, concerns, and to understand the way how they see things and their customs. In my work I talk to many people and that has left a mark on me. In the shelters we have given medical attention to people from different countries such as Venezuela, Haiti, Nigeria. It’s incredible to see how, if you want, you can communicate with everyone, and get to know them. We communicated with people who didn’t speak Spanish by signs, or with a translation app from the cell phone. That way you could make them feel love and affection and they were very grateful”, says Andres who today works giving information about COVID-19 through the WhatsApp Line that the Red Cross has implemented in Peru.
From April to date, the Red Cross, with the support of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has provided more than 500 health services in shelters located in six districts of Lima, Peru, as well as health information, with emphasis on preventive measures against COVID-19.
Value those around you, not (just) what’s around you
Dora studied to be a kindergarten teacher, and William, a computer technician. The two met thirty-two years ago in their beloved Venezuela. They were friends for a long time, before becoming life partners, as they like to call themselves. They have two years of relationship, the same time that they have been living in Lima, the capital of Peru. Two years ago, they decided to migrate to this country, in search of a better quality of life, and together, to undertake projects that they have planned for the long term.
“We left Barquisimeto, Lara state, and moved to Tachira, in order to cross the Simon Bolivar bridge. After the registration process, which lasted approximately five hours, we entered Colombia. From there we took a bus from Cucuta to Rumichaca. In Ecuador we took a minivan to Quitumbes, there the change of weather was very strong, very cold. From there it took us twelve hours to reach the border with Peru and enter through CEBAF in Tumbes. Already there we took a bus to Lima”. That’s how they tell us about the six-day journey that they had to made before arriving to their destination. On this journey, they were victims of robbery three times. This is how they arrived at Lima without money, without a telephone, and without a way to communicate with their families.
When they went out looking for a job, they met the owners of the building where they now live, who initially gave them the opportunity to stay in a small place in the basement, without charging them anything during that period. They consider that, thanks to these people and their generous help, they had the opportunity to undertake, and to be able to pay for the rent and the basic expenses and services of the apartment they occupy today.
"The first job hunt was not easy at all, the life of the migrant is quite hard in any country" William tells us. In these two years, between him and Dora they have had several jobs, always temporary, and periods of unemployment. Dora's first job was in a shoe store in a market, and William's in a restaurant where he did all the chores, and where he spent most of the day “The hours were quite strong. I left here at 9 in the morning and returned 2 or 3 in the morning the next day”, he says.
For both Dora and William, the months from January to March are the most difficult, as this is the time where there are no many job opportunities, and because many of the contracts are until December. Last year they decided to do different things to generate income at this time, and together they began to work with crafts, and baking pastries for sale. "We also made soup, but we did not sell this, we gave it to the neighbours so they could try our food" says Dora. Then, together, they worked in a school renovating the furniture in the kindergarten area. They managed to finish this work with a lot of effort and deliver it on time before the start of classes, which were suspended three weeks later, due to COVID-19.
Dora and William have been complying more than two months with the mandatory isolation that the Peruvian government decreed as a measure of response to the COVID-19 emergency. “Quarantine has not been easy on an economic level because we do not produce, we do not have an income; but at a personal level, it has been very pleasant, because since we arrived in the country the only thing we have done has been working all the time. Here the work hours are more than eight, plus the time it takes to get to work, you are on the street all day. Now, this time of isolation has helped us to understand each other as a couple and has also helped us to value the person next to you before the material, and to collaborate within your possibilities with those around you", reflects Dora. She also tells us that this time is serving them to prepare for different things, and they have focused on following whatever free courses, workshops, and conferences they find in their path.
But not generating income, increased pressure and concern for tomorrow. “The help of the Red Cross came to us from heaven, because that day we ran out of food, we have had been feeding only with bread and water for a week, so this help has been a blessing. If it hadn't been for that help, imagine how we would be right now” adds Dora.
Dora and William are part of the Cash-based Intervention of the Red Cross, implemented with support from the European Union. This program gives a card to vulnerable families, so they can spend on what they need most right now.
"The same day they gave us the card, a neighbor who has a small baby ran out of milk, and well, so we were also able to help her." Dora tells us, showing herself to be an example of solidarity even in times of emergency.
“We not only heal with medication, but also with listening to them”
“Medicine has been my passion since I was in high school” says Damarys Solano on the phone, while she's preparing to go out. Today she'll be giving medical attention at a shelter in Tumbes, where many migrants are following the mandatory isolation given in Peru due to the emergency of COVID-19.
Damarys was born in Tumbes, a city in the north of Peru, next to the frontier with Ecuador, and since she was very young she realized that there were many people with limitations to access to health services, and she wanted to do something about it, that is why she decided to study medicine. She completed her university studies in Cuba, and while at university she took part of the Student Health Brigade, to help people that didn't have easy access to the health system. And that passion continues with her today.
Dr. Solano works at the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) since September 2018, at the Red Cross Care Center at the Binational Border Assistance Center (CEBAF), in the border with Ecuador, placed in response to the increase in the number of migrants entering the country.
“The needs of migrants were increasing constantly, I had to think daily about what methods to use to not only alleviate their pain with medication, but also the emotional aspect, because sometimes just listening to them would take away their pain. For them, doing their journey by foot was very difficult, but they have been brave”, remark Dr. Solano, for whom helping anyone in need, regardless their nationality, race, religion, social condition or political beliefs, is one of the principles of her work, a principle she shares with IFRC and is one of the reasons why she decided to work here.
She remembers in a bittersweet way the different people she has seen through CEBAF, such as elderly patients who had made their journey on foot hoping to meet their family in Peru, or mothers who were traveling alone and that have gave birth shortly before, in one of the transit countries. “The Red Cross principle of humanity is something that you live and apply in the day-to-day work, with your patients. That makes a big difference.”, adds Damarys.
The migratory context changed over time, although migrants continued to enter trough CEBAF, the number of people who stayed in Tumbes city increased. The Care Center at CEBAF wasn't enough to meet the health needs of the vulnerable population, and this is how the Community Health Campaigns began to be implemented. Damarys remembers with great satisfaction the active participation of the population, both migrant and local, at the health campaigns which brought medical attention to more than 650 patients.
Today, in the context of COVID-19, many of the migrants who were waiting for a response at CEBAF have been transferred to shelters. That doesn't mean that Damarys rests; she, along with the rest of the team, continue to work, visiting the shelters, providing health care and treatment, ensuring that the patients are well, and monitoring their situation.
“I feel that all this experience has reinforced my feelings for medicine, since sometimes you think that you sit at a desk prescribing recipes to those in pain, and is not only that; is to relieve with the art of healing those who need us. To value life and to give them hope that not all is lost”, concludes Damarys.
Changing from face to face to virtual consultation
It is a regular weekend. While many people rest, Doctor Roselbis Gonzáles wakes up, prepares breakfast for her 5-year-old daughter and her husband, takes her bottle of water and sits at the living room desk. There, she opens her computer and connects to the WhatsApp Support Line where she answers questions and calms the anxiety of many people who are full of concerns and doubts due to the crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The WhatsApp Support Line is an initiative of the International Federation of Red Cross (IFRC) that is developed in Peru.
Roselbis is part of the team of doctors and communicators who attend inquiries virtually through WhatsApp. The line receives daily questions about COVID-19, its symptoms, prevention measures, and general guidance for treating the disease. During the first two months of work, the platform has sent more than 19,600 messages to 874 users solving questions, fears and clarifying rumours about COVID-19.
For Roselbis, changing the person-to-person consultation for virtual attention became a challenge, “at the beginning I was a little hesitant, but in the end I liked it because I feel that I help to clear doubts and guide the population, especially migrants” The empathy that Dr. Gonzáles feels is due to the fact that she is also a migrant.
Roselbis was born in Venezuela country she had to leave three years ago to migrate to Perú "due to the economic, social and political crisis that is taking place". Her vocation to help others arose when she was in high school. “I was studying in a public school and many of my classmates were hungry, I always shared my breakfast with them,” she recalls. That motivation to help others led her to study medicine and although the first years of her career were very tough, she was not discouraged.
Today, with 8 years practicing as a doctor, she remembers every moment lived with "her little patients", as she refers to them fondly. One of the experiences that she remembers the most was the first time she attended a childbirth, "bringing a child to life is fixed on my mind, seeing the baby crying made me happy and marked my life”.
This help to pregnant women that she previously did face to face has now been transformed into virtual consultations. "I have attended several cases; the more common ones are pregnant women who tell me that their relatives have COVID-19 symptoms. They want to avoid becoming infected and that they have not been able to attend their medical check-ups, I wonder how people who live working day by day are doing, are they eating, how are they living”.
The IFRC WhatsApp Line answers various types of questions and populations, who want to find out about the symptoms and prevention measures of COVID-19. 49% of messages come from people in vulnerable situations, such as migrants (32%), people with chronic diseases (9%) and people with disabilities (8%).
While attending virtual consultations, Roselbis makes researches, reads the news and the latest reports from the World Health Organization, drinks water and eats a healthy snack. The WhatsApp Line attends messages every day from 08:00 to 18:00. This is how her shift goes, when she finishes registering her attentions, she joins her husband and daughter who play on the second floor of their house.
Forecast-based Financing: Early Action Protocol in place to protect Peru’s alpaca herders
The Red Cross and Red Crescent’s first ever Early Action Protocol funded by IFRC’sForecast-based Action by the DREF – which will useforecast-based financingto support herder families in the high Andes region of Peru – is now in place and ready for activation.
The protocol is designed to help herder families to protect their lives and livelihoods during periods of extreme cold weather. The early action will be activated based on a five-day climate forecast, which will give the Peruvian Red Cross a period of four days to act before the start of an extreme cold wave.
This EAP was developed by the Peruvian Red Cross with support from the German Red Cross, the German Foreign Office, IFRC and the Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre, and is designed to shift humanitarian action from response to anticipation – a shift that could save lives and dramatically reduce costs compared to traditional emergency relief.