Mexico & Central American migration crisis
Since the beginning of 2022, there has been a massive increase in the number of refugees, migrants, and returnees in transit by land northwards through Central America. People are mostly moving through irregular channels, and along the way face bureaucratic barriers, suffer accidents and injuries, face extortion and sexual violence or disappear and are separated from their families. Tragically, others are killed or die from diseases or the harsh environmental conditions. This Emergency Appeal supports the Red Cross Societies of Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala and Mexico to scale up humanitarian assistance and protection to 210,000 people along migratory routes.
| Press release
Launch of ambitious partnership between IFRC and EU: a new model for the humanitarian sector
Brussels/Geneva, 30 March 2022 - An ambitious partnership between the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and the Directorate-General for European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (DG ECHO) launched today aims to be a new model for the humanitarian sector.
In response to the increasing number of crises arising worldwide, the pilot Programmatic Partnership “Accelerating Local Action in Humanitarian and Health Crises” aims to support local action in addressing humanitarian and health crises across at least 25 countries with a multi-year EU funding allocation.
The partnership strengthens mutual strategic priorities and is built around five pillars of intervention: disaster preparedness/risk management; epidemic and pandemic preparedness and response; humanitarian assistance and protection to people on the move; cash and voucher assistance; risk communication, community engagement and accountability.
European Commissioner for Crisis Management, Janez Lenarčič said:
“I welcome with great hope the Pilot Programmatic Partnership with IFRC, a trusted EU partner who shares our vision of implementing efficient and effective humanitarian aid operations worldwide. The funding allocated for this partnership reaffirms the EU commitment to help meet the growing needs of vulnerable people across some 25 countries, in close cooperation with the Red Cross and Red Crescent National Societies. It also confirms our commitment to strategic partnerships with humanitarian aid organizations.”
IFRC Secretary General Jagan Chapagain said:
“Longer-term, strategic partnerships are essential to respond to the escalation of humanitarian crises around the world. We must respond rapidly, we must respond at scale, and we must modernize our approach to make impact. We know that the most effective and sustainable humanitarian support is that which is locally led, puts communities at the heart of the action, and is resourced through flexible, long-term and predictable partnership. The pilot Programmatic Partnership allows exactly that.”
The Programme will begin with an inception phase in several countries in Latin America, West and Central Africa and Yemen. The main objective is to provide essential assistance to those currently affected by humanitarian crises, the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, climate-related disasters and conflict and to prevent loss of lives and suffering. Investment is also made to ensure communities are better prepared to cope with disasters through the implementation of disaster preparedness and risk reduction components.
Working closely with its National Societies, the IFRC’s global reach combined with local action, its long history of community-driven humanitarian work and its Fundamental Principles, make it the partner of choice for this Pilot Programmatic Partnership with the EU.
Following the first phase of implementation, the Programme aims to expand its reach and include additional countries around the world with the support of more EU National Societies.
The 10 countries of implementation in the inception phase are: Burkina Faso, Chad, Cameroon, Mali, Niger, Yemen, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Panama.
The seven National Societies from the EU working to support the implementation of the inception phase are: Belgian Red Cross (FR), Danish Red Cross, French Red Cross, German Red Cross, Italian Red Cross, Luxembourg Red Cross and Spanish Red Cross.
For more information
In Brussels: Federica Cuccia, [email protected]
In Geneva: Anna Tuson, [email protected], +41 79 895 6924
The Programmatic Partnership is an innovative and ambitious three-year partnership between the IFRC, many of our member National Societies, and the European Union. Together, we support communities worldwide to reduce their risks and be better prepared for disasters and health emergencies.
| Press release
Communities affected by Hurricanes Eta and Iota are threatened by food insecurity, displacement and the climate crisis
Panama City, 11 November, 2021 - One year after Hurricanes Eta and Iota hit Central America, affecting more than 7.5 million people, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) calls for urgent action and investment to protect millions of vulnerable people in Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua who are facing the combined impact of COVID-19, poverty, and climate-related disasters.
In Honduras alone, over 3 million people are now suffering from food insecurity, and 2.8 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance, over double the previous estimate issued in early 2020. Other communities in the region are facing the destruction of livelihoods such as fishing and farming has forced the most vulnerable families to choose between selling their assets to ensure their food security or reducing the number of daily meals.
Roger Alonso, IFRC’s Head of the Disaster, Climate and Crises Unit, said:
“In the last 12 months, the Red Cross teams in Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua have worked tirelessly to address the needs of more than 620,000 people affected by Eta and Iota. We have provided shelter, health care, psychosocial support, access to food, clean water, sanitation, and cash transfer services. However, the disaster is not over. Urgent action is needed now to protect people’s livelihoods, prevent diseases, and ramp up the recovery from the social and economic impact of the hurricanes, which have severely affected women, migrants and displaced people.”
In 2020, at least 1.5 million people were displaced in Central America as a consequence of disasters, including Hurricanes Eta and Iota: 937,000 in Honduras, 339,000 in Guatemala, and 232,000 in Nicaragua.
Eta and Iota have wiped out livestock and destroyed over 700,000 hectares of crops which are a critical source of livelihood and food security for many families already facing social exclusion and economic difficulties because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and pre-existent poverty levels. These adverse impacts have contributed to people’s decision to leave their homes or join ‘migrant caravans’ headed towards North America.
Martha Keays, IFRC’s Regional Director in the Americas, said:
“We need to act globally and locally before communities are displaced, and invest in climate adaptation and early action to combat the effect of disasters such as Eta and Iota. Guatemala, Honduras and, Nicaragua are classified as countries in high-risk of facing climate-related threats and, at the same time, are in the group of countries that lack investment to fund preparedness and adaptation measures. Humanitarian organizations, governments, civil society, donors, and climate experts should work together to revert that pattern and promote climate financing measures that save lives and empower communities, particularly those with the highest risks and the lowest capacities.”
In response to hurricanes Eta and Iota in Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua, the IFRC has launched an emergency appeal for 20 million Swiss francs to save lives, deliver humanitarian aid, and put in place preparedness plans and climate change adaptation measures that build community resilience and minimize the impact of future disasters.
In November 2020, the IFRC also activated its Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF) to deliver fast and effective humanitarian aid for over 26,000 people affected by Eta or Iota in Belice, Colombia, Costa Rica and Panama.
For more information:
Susana Arroyo Barrantes, [email protected] + 506 8416 1771
María Victoria Langman, [email protected] +507 65501090
| Press release
More than 139 million people hit by climate crisis and COVID-19, new IFRC analysis reveals
New York, Geneva, 16 September 2021 – Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, climate-related disasters have affected the lives of at least 139.2 million people and killed more than 17,242.
This is the finding of a new analysis published today by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and the Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre, on the compound impacts of extreme-weather events and COVID-19. A further estimated 658.1 million vulnerable people have been exposed to extreme temperatures. Through new data and specific case studies, the report shows how people across the world are facing multiple crises and coping with overlapping vulnerabilities.
The paper also highlights the need of addressing both crises simultaneously as the COVID-19 pandemic has affected livelihoods across the world and has made communities more vulnerable to climate risks.
The IFRC President, Francesco Rocca, who today presented the new report at a press conference in New York, said: “The world is facing an unprecedented humanitarian crisis where the climate change and COVID-19 are pushing communities to their limits. In the lead up to COP26, we urge world leaders to take immediate action not only to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but also to address the existent and imminent humanitarian impacts of climate change”.
The report comes a year after an initial analysisof the overlapping risks of extreme-weather events that have occurred during the COVID-19 crisis. The pandemic continues to wreak havoc, with direct health impacts for millions of people around the world, but also a massive indirect impact, in part due to the response measures implemented to contain the pandemic. Food insecurity caused by weather extremes has been aggravated by COVID-19. Health systems are pushed to their limits and the most vulnerable have been the most exposed to overlapping shocks.
In Afghanistan, the impacts of the extreme drought are compounded by conflict and COVID-19. The drought has crippled agricultural food production and diminished livestock, leaving millions of people hungry and malnourished. The Afghan Red Crescent Society has ramped up relief, including food and cash assistance for people to buy food supplies, plant drought-resistant food crops and protect their livestock.
In Honduras, responding to hurricanes Eta and Iota during the pandemic, also meant additional challenges. Thousands of people became homeless in temporary shelters. Anti-COVID-19 measures in those shelters required physical distancing and other protective measures, which limited capacity.
In Kenya, the impacts of COVID-19 are colliding with floods in one year and droughts in the next, as well as a locust infestation. Over 2.1 million people are facing acute food insecurity in rural and urban areas. In the country and across East Africa, the COVID-19 restrictions slowed down the flood response and outreach to affected populations increasing their vulnerabilities.
Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies around the globe are not only responding to those overlapping crises but also helping communities to prepare and anticipate climate risks.
In Bangladesh for instance, the Red Crescent Society has used IFRC’s designated funds for anticipatory action to disseminate flood related Early Warning Messages through loudspeakers in vulnerable areas so people can take the necessary measures or evacuate if necessary.
Julie Arrighi, associate director at the RCRC Climate Center said: “Hazards do not need to become disasters. We can counter the trend of rising risks and save lives if we change how we anticipate crises, fund early action and risk reduction at the local level. Finally, we need to help communities become more resilient, especially in the most vulnerable contexts.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a lasting impact on climate risks. Governments need to commit to investing in community adaptation, anticipation systems and local actors.
“The massive spending in COVID-19 recovery proves that governments can act fast and drastically in the face of global threats. It is time to turn words into action and devote the same energy to the climate crisis. Every day, we are witnessing the impact of human-made climate change. The climate crisis is here, and we need to act now,” Rocca said.
Download the paper:The compound impact of extreme weather events and COVID-19
For more information or to arrange an interview, contact:
Tommaso Della Longa, +41 79 708 43 67, [email protected]
Marie Claudet, +33 786 89 50 89 , [email protected]
Honduran Red Cross
Being prepared: Responding to two powerful hurricanes in the midst of a pandemic
By Olivia Acosta
The past hurricane season in the Atlantic has been one of the worst for Honduras since Hurricane Mitch, which caused more than 5,000 deaths in 1998.
Hurricanes Eta and Iota, category 4 and 5 respectively, made landfall last November and entered through the Department of Paraíso, the area where Carlos Colindres, National Risk Manager of the Honduran Red Cross, usually lives. "When I confirmed that the situation could become very serious, I began to worry about my family. We were already designing contingency plans for the population, when I remembered that I had to talk to my father to warn him. I explained to him there were going to be days of heavy rain and strong winds and it was necessary to be prepared, to have provisions and to keep warm... he answered me that he had already lived similar situations throughout his life, but now he felt calmer because according to him, they were handled in a more efficient way. That's what it's all about, I told him, be prepared for giving the best response, and try to minimize the impact and save lives”.
Responding during a pandemi
Colindres, manager since 2014, says the COVID-19 pandemic has hindered the response of the institutions to the disaster caused by the two hurricanes, due to mobility problems and limited product procurement, among others.
"The Honduran Red Cross has a lot of experience in facing endemic epidemiological situations in the area, such as dengue or zika, and we are prepared to act in adverse meteorological situations such as hurricanes or floods, but not with a pandemic of such magnitude at the same time... a country is never prepared for a situation like this."
There were challenges to being able to provide quality care in a timely manner, according to Colindres. Many things failed, such as early warning systems, because there is no adequate technology available in the country to make an accurate projection and forecast. "Despite everything, our response was adequate, we arrived at the right time. The volunteers of the Honduran Red Cross, together with the national security forces under the Humanitarian Response Units UHR, were evacuating people and transferring the population to shelters and other safe places from the beginning. The Red Cross saved the lives of more than 4,900 people through water and air rescues. They also provided psychosocial support, first aid, and house cleaning... but the second hurricane, Iota, made everything worse, leaving 1.2 million people exposed to the disaster," he recalls.
Being able to respond in the most effective way to a catastrophe like this it takes many years of hard work and training beforehand. It is essential to be prepared at all levels, from institutional to local level. The key is to have adequate training and resources, as well as ongoing volunteer training.
"Having a clear national response plan, which is part of strengthening our operational capacity, has helped us to plan our response. In addition, volunteers have been trained to deal with emergencies, including epidemics. Many National Societies, with the support of the IFRC, are implementing an approach we call PER (Preparedness for Effective Response) that allows us to improve our disaster response mechanism. This approach is the result of experience and best practices learned from many years responding to emergencies around the world".
The passage of hurricanes Eta and Iota triggered a humanitarian crisis aggravated by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has left more than 100 dead in Honduras, millions displaced, as well as the destruction of homes, bridges, roads, crops and economic losses in the millions, which will take years to recover.
| Press release
Red Cross: Providing services and protection to migrants in Central America is a humanitarian imperative
Panama/Geneva, 15 January 2021 – The Red Cross is preparing to provide humanitarian assistance to migrants ready to depart Honduras for Guatemala as part of a 'migrant caravan'. More than 4,000 thousand people are expected to join the caravan that will depart from the Honduran city of San Pedro Sula today at 5:00 am local time.
The Honduran Red Cross will support up to 6,000 migrants departing from the northern and southern zones of the country. Humanitarian Service Points will be enabled at the point of departure in the city centre of San Pedro Sula, as well as along the migration route. These spaces will provide access to essential services, such as water, face masks, pre-hospital care, information about safety, security and COVID-19 prevention, as well as means of communication for migrants to keep in touch with their families.
During their journey, people are exposed to dehydration, injuries, and fainting. Often, they also lose contact with family members. Providing support and protection is a humanitarian imperative, especially to vulnerable migrants, such as children, youth, women, indigenous populations, elderly, disable, and LGBTQI people.
At the Guatemalan side of the border, ten Humanitarian Service Points are currently being set up along the border and the migration route. Red Cross volunteers specially trained to work in this context are ready to provide protection and holistic humanitarian assistance to 4,000 people, including psychosocial support, higyene kits, clean water, and information on self-care and COVID-19 prevention.
Martha Keays, Regional Director for the Americas at the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), said: “The potential exclusion of migrants from the COVID-19 prevention plans is concerning. It isourduty, as the world’s largest humanitarian network, toensure thattheyare not forgotten. The authorities in the places of origin, transit and destination, as well as international organisations, civil society and the migrants themselves should work hand in hand to ensure that no one is left behind.”
Migrants have been disproportionately affected by the impact of COVID-19. Many of them have been unable to comply with the preventative measures necessary to keep them healthy and safe during the COVID-19 outbreak, due to limited access to essential services – such as health, water, sanitation and hygiene - as well as poor and unsafe living and working conditions. They have also been hit the hardest by the economic fallout of the pandemic.
The combination of COVID-19, social exclusion, discrimination, violence, and climate-related disasters happening at the same time, with a magnitude rarely seen before in Central America, poses new humanitarian challenges. Eta and Iota have destroyed livelihoodsacross a region that was already facing an economic crisis and where the income of thousands of families had already been severely depleted due to the pandemic. People are at risk of resorting to coping strategiessuch as selling their animals and properties,eating less food, andabandoning their hometowns to look for new ways of generating income.
| Press release
Humanitarian response to hurricanes Eta and Iota one of the most challenging faced by Central America in decades
Panama/Geneva, 14 December 2020– One month after hurricanes Eta and Iota hit Central America and Colombia, affecting more than 7.5 million people, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) warns that millions are still in need of immediate humanitarian support in what has become one of the most challenging disasters faced by the region in recent history.
The IFRC and National Red Cross Societies are currently addressing the most urgent needs of over 100,000 people through seven simultaneous humanitarian operations in Colombia, Belize, Costa Rica, Panamá, Guatemala, Nicaragua and Honduras. The situation is especially severe in Nicaragua, Honduras, and Guatemala, where more than 6 million people have been affected by heavy rains, floods, and landslides. In-depth damage and needs assessments are ongoing but results from all rapid assessments conducted so far paint a bleak humanitarian picture in both the short and medium term.
Felipe del Cid, Head of the IFRC’s Disaster Response Unit in the Americas, said: “Millions of people still need immediate humanitarian support: shelter, health care, psychosocial support, access to food, clean water, sanitation, and hygiene facilities. We are talking about a huge disaster, exacerbating an already ruinous combination of COVID-19, poverty and inequality in the region.These overlapping crises are making our operation one of the most complex we have ever mounted. The support of the international community is urgent to protect lives and livelihoods”.
On 8 November, the IFRC launched an Emergency Appeal for 20 million Swiss Francs to assist 75,000 of the worst affected people in Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua for at least 18 months. Currently only 58% funded, the appeal focuses on rebuilding and repairing damaged shelters, improving access to clean water, sanitation and hygiene facilities, addressing health needs, including COVID-19 prevention measures, and providing psychosocial support. The operation will also seek to address the mid-term consequences, such as the hurricanes’ impact on livelihoods and displacement.
“Eta and Iota have wiped out livestock, destroyedtools,harvests and farming areas, and impacted popular tourist spotsacross a region that was already facing an economic crisis related to COVID-19 and where the incomes of thousands of families had already been severely depleted. People are at risk of resorting to coping strategiessuch as selling their animals and properties,eating less food, andabandoning their homes to look for new ways of generating income”, added del Cid.
History has shown that hurricanes can cause displacement influxes as the loss of housing and livelihoods fuel unemployment and lead to increased movement of people to urban centres. Eta and Iota also represent a challenge for returned populations. InGuatemala and Honduras,some of the areas hit hardest have also welcomed large groups of returned people whose journeys have not ended in the way they expected. Figures on unemployment, poverty, and vulnerability were already high due to COVID-19 and will very likely deteriorate due to Eta and Iota.
Audiovisual materials including high quality B-roll and images available to download and use here.
| Press release
Red Cross launches massive, multi-country operation as horror of Hurricane Eta emerges
Panama/Geneva, 10 November 2020 – The national, regional, and global resources of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) are being mobilized as the full, destructive picture of Eta begins to emerge across Central America.
According to Red Cross assessments, more than 2.5 million people from Panama to Belize have been affected in some way, although the impacts are most severe in Honduras, Nicaragua and Guatemala.
Felipe del Cid, IFRC's Operations Manager for the Americas, said:
"Eta has been a devastating disaster. In Honduras alone, 1.7 million people have been affected. Many of them are women, children and members of indigenous communities that have lost everything and have no access to water and food. In several communities, families are drinking contaminated water and are in urgent need of support."
A plane and two trucks carrying a combined 98 tons of humanitarian aid are departing from the IFRC’s Humanitarian Logistics Hub in Panama to Nicaragua and Honduras. Aid items include mosquito nets, kitchen kits, hygiene kits, tarpaulins, jerrycans, cleaning kits, tool kits and COVID protection equipment.
The IFRC has launched a 20 million Swiss franc Emergency Appeal to support and dramatically expand local Red Cross efforts in Honduras, Nicaragua and Guatemala.
This operation aims to assist 75,000 of the worst affected people for at least 18 months. It will focus on rebuilding and repairing damaged shelters, improving access to clean water, hygiene and sanitation, addressing health care needs, including COVID-19 prevention needs, and providing psychosocial support. The operation will also seek to address issues related to gender and inclusion, as well as displacement. Historically, disasters in the region have led to increased movement of people towards urban centres.
IFRC is also deploying a series of Emergency Response Units from its global network as part of the multi-country operation.
"The region is facing a triple crisis: Eta, COVID-19 and the one caused by the pre-existing conditions of vulnerability that have been affecting Central American countries. We are talking about millions of people affected in seven countries. The need for humanitarian aid is dramatic," Felipe del Cid added.
National Red Cross Societies across Central America were active before Eta made landfall. They coordinated with authorities to prepare for Eta’s impact and assisted in the evacuation of communities lying in its path. Since the storm made landfall, they have been involved in search and rescue efforts, offered support to people in shelters, provided prehospital care to the injured, and offered psychosocial support and COVID-19 prevention information to survivors.
In addition to mounting this operation, IFRC is also closely monitoring potential new storm systems that could develop and threaten Eta-affected communities in the coming days.
IFRC concerned about impact of Hurricane Eta on coronavirus transmission
The Red Cross, working in every country in the region, is supporting thousands of people affected by the heavy rains and floods caused by Hurricane Eta.
Eta tore across parts of Central America after in made landfall in Nicaragua on 3 November as a category 4 Hurricane. Though it was downgraded to a tropical storm as it moved towards Honduras and Guatemala, constant rains and powerful winds have caused flooding and devastation across the region, including dozens of deadly landslides. Belize, Cost Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico and Nicaragua have all been significantly affected.
Thousands of people have been evacuated from their homes with flooding and landslides causing severe damage across the region. It is thought the storm has claimed the lives of more than 200 people, though the true figure could be much higher as many people remain missing.
[caption id="attachment_70233" align="aligncenter" width="1024"] Honduran Red Cross search and rescue volunteers have been deployed to areas affected by landslides. (Credit Honduran Red Cross)[/caption]
As families struggle to come to terms with what has happened, concerns are mounting about the impact this disaster will have on coronavirus transmissions.
COVID-19 prevention measures, such as regular hand washing and social distancing, will almost certainly be made more difficult in evacuation shelters, in overcrowded family homes or other safe places people have moved to.
“There are thousands of homeless people, in temporary refuges or shelters facing many vulnerabilities. Right now, preventing the spread of COVID-19 is essential despite the enormous challenges of the emergency. It is not unlikely that we will witness a significant increase in cases in the coming weeks, due to the difficulty of applying public health measures in such a complex context,” Dr María Tallarico, IFRC Health Coordinator in the Americas, warns.
[caption id="attachment_70209" align="aligncenter" width="947"] Evacuation efforts continued over the weekend as heavy rains continued to wreak havoc. (Credit: Honduran Red Cross)[/caption]
Thousands of Red Cross volunteers across the region are assisting families affected by floods, supporting evacuations and search and rescue, providing first aid and psychosocial support, as well as transporting people safely to hospital. These same volunteers have been supporting communities to stay safe during the pandemic.
“Red Cross National Societies face the difficult task of responding to these deadly rains and floods as well as COVID-19. Volunteers are being provided with the necessary personal protection equipment and will continue to support communities with prevention and protection measures. It is important now that these measures are not only maintained but increased in order to reduce possible transmissions”, Dr Maria continues.
[caption id="attachment_70229" align="aligncenter" width="1024"] Volunteers from the Guatemalan Red Cross are supporting children affected by the storm with psychosocial support in evacuation shelters across the country. Across the region, volunteers are already distributing hygiene kits across to help people to stay safe. (Credit: Guatemalan Red Cross)[/caption]
Red Cross National Societies, with the support of the IFRC in the region, are already distributing hygiene kits to displaced people, these include masks and hand sanitizer. Volunteers are also talking to families about how to stay safe during this time.
The IFRC is recommending that all response must consider the need for heightened prevention measures against the virus, as well as other communicable diseases, such as Zika, that commonly increase during and after floods.
“We urge people to ensure that they continue to follow health advice, wear masks and wash or disinfect their hands as regularly as possible, use safe water to avoid diarrhea and other infections due to contaminated water, protect girls and boys and monitor the emergence of respiratory or skin diseases. Our Red Cross staff and volunteers are on the ground helping and supporting these tasks,” Dr Maria says.
[caption id="attachment_70225" align="aligncenter" width="1024"] Volunteers from the Nicaraguan Red Cross clear a road obstructed by debris and trees dragged by the flood currents. (Credit: Nicaraguan Red Cross)[/caption]
The Red Cross is also urging people to continue to consider personal protection measures such as wearing masks and washing their hands as often as possible. Assessments are underway to evaluate the damage caused by the storm. The immediate concerns are ensuring people have access to clean water, food and safe shelter.
[caption id="attachment_70221" align="aligncenter" width="1024"] The Costa Rican Red Cross is supporting evacuations in areas affected by the storm. (Credit: Costa Rican Red Cross)[/caption]
It may be days or even week before the true extent of the damage is known, but constant rains even after the storm has passed, means that strong currents and landslides continue to destroy homes, farmland and sadly, to take lives.
[caption id="attachment_70217" align="aligncenter" width="1024"] A Guatemalan Red Cross volunteer speaks with a person affected by the floods. Many families face economic uncertainty caused by coronavirus restrictions. These floods bring a further bow to those already struggling to cope. (Credit: Guatemalan Red Cross)[/caption]
This devastation comes at a time when many communities in the region are already deeply affected by the health and economic impacts of the coronavirus pandemic.
The long-term effects of this disaster threatens to push communities already struggling to cope, over the edge.
“The long-term effects of this climate disaster will push communities already struggling to cope with the health and economic impacts of the coronavirus pandemic, over the edge. The IFRC has launched and appeal and will continue to work alongside the National Societies responding, to ensure that no one is left behind.”
The IFRC has launched a regional emergency appeal to cover three countries, Honduras, Guatemala and Nicaragua. The IFRC is seeking 20m CHF to support 75,000 people cross these three countries for the next 18 months. It also continues to support other countries affected, including Belize, Costa Rica, and Panama, working closely with the National Societies responding. The IFRC in the region continues to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.
| Press release
Central America: Hurricane Eta “one of the biggest threats since Hurricane Mitch”
Panama/Geneva, 6 November 2020 — The Red Cross is supporting thousands of people affected by the heavy rains and floods caused by now-Tropical Storm Eta. The devastating storm has claimed more than 50 lives, forced the evacuation of thousands of people, and caused significant damage to infrastructure and homes throughout Central America.
The situation is especially critical in Honduras where authorities have issued a red alert for the entire country, as well as in Nicaragua and Guatemala.
Felipe del Cid is the Head of Operations in the Americas for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC). He said:
“In Honduras, already about 400,000 people have been directly affected by the storm, but that number could even double in the coming hours. Our teams on the ground are seeing widespread damage: communities are flooded, homes are destroyed, and people have been forced to leave their homes.
“Red Cross teams will continue surveying damage, completing needs assessments, and providing comfort and emergency support to those in need. This is probably one of the biggest threats the country has faced since the passage of Hurricane Mitch in 1998.”
The Red Cross is working in close coordination with national and local authorities in all affected countries. Red Cross volunteers and staff are supporting evacuation efforts, rescuing people trapped by the floods and monitoring rivers as water levels rise. They are also providing emergency first aid and psychosocial support.
The IFRC has already released about 440,000 Swiss francs from its Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF) to bolster efforts in Nicaragua. Additional allocations for other affected countries are in the pipeline.
The IFRC’s logistics unit at the Humanitarian Hub in Panama is preparing to dispatch emergency supplies such as tarps, blankets, and other items to areas of greatest need. IFRC also anticipates launching emergency appeals for Honduras and Nicaragua.
| Press release
Red Cross bracing for Hurricane Eta’s winds, flooding, and storm surge
Panama/Geneva,3November 2020 —Red Cross volunteers and staff in Nicaragua and Honduras have been preparing to deliver life-saving humanitarian assistance ahead of Hurricane Eta’s imminent landfall.
The Honduran and Nicaraguan Red Cross have placed trained volunteers on high alert and have pre-positioned emergency supplies, including fuel, tarpaulins and other relief items. In both countries, the Red Cross has been urging people to have food, water, and other necessities available, and to consider personal protection measures, such as masks and hand sanitizer, for emergency go bags.
Oscar Gutiérrez Somarriba, President of the Nicaraguan Red Cross’ National Council said:
“We are monitoring the hurricane as it moves towards the coast Nicaragua and working with our teams in the areas on the storm’s predicted path to determine the best course of action in response to the conditions and to continue to support vulnerable communities.”
Carlos Montes, Programme Director of the Honduran Red Cross said:
“The Red Cross is working with communities to ensure they are ready to face hurricane conditions during this COVID-19 pandemic by sharing information about how to be ready for a disaster, along with the latest information about the storm.”
Hurricane Eta is the 28thnamed storm of the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season, tying the record for the most named storms, previously set in 2005. In addition to supporting communities threatened or affected by disasters like Eta, IFRC advocates for measures designed to mitigate the humanitarian impact of these catastrophic events. Effective preparedness and early action saves lives and livelihoods.
| Press release
Hundreds receive aid as migrants cross into Guatemala
Geneva/Panama, 2 October 2020 – The Guatemalan and Honduran Red Cross Societies are providing assistance and care to hundreds of migrants who have crossed the border from Honduras to Guatemala.
In Guatemala, Red Cross volunteers have been deployed to Entre Rios in the department of Izabal on the north east border with Honduras to support people as they arrive. In all, more than 2,300 people are believed to have crossed in recent days
María Elena Ajpacaja of the Guatemalan Red Cross said:
“We are seeing many vulnerable people crossing the border and they desperately need assistance. Among the crowd of migrants we are identifying pregnant women, children of different ages and elderly people. Many of the people we are treating are dehydrated or suffering from various injuries after having walked very long distances in recent days.”
Guatemalan Red Cross volunteers are providing a range of services, including pre-hospital care, water, hygiene items, snacks, face masks, and information on COVID-19 prevention.
In Honduras, three Red Cross humanitarian service points have been operational since the morning of 30 September, providing water and face masks, as well as information about safety, security and virus prevention.
Honduras: 500 migrants blocked in Choluteca due to movement restrictions
The situation in Choluteca, Honduras, near the border with Nicaragua, is extremely difficult for approximately 500 migrants who are blocked in the country due to movement restrictions in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. Many of them are from Cuba, Haiti and several African countries (such as Ghana, Kenya, etc.) and travel with their family for months, crossing different borders on their way to the United States. One of their main concerns is to maintain their anonymity and remain "invisible" to the institutions, agencies or governments, in order to avoid being detained and deported during their migration journey to the north.
Each stage of their path poses new challenges depending on the countries they cross. Families grow along the journey with the birth of new members who, sometimes, cannot accompany their parents on their way to the north because of nationality laws of the countries where the children are born.
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, these migrants have faced new risks in their migration journey. According to Alexei Gastro, Secretary General of the Honduran Red Cross: "They risk being stranded at the borders of different countries, as is the case in Choluteca, with limited health care infrastructure. They are also exposed to human trafficking, assaults, rapes, and payments to 'coyotes' to guide them on their route".
According to Alexei Gastro, another fundamental challenge for migrants is to conserve their financial resources to complete their migratory journey: "For them it is vital to maintain the budget allocated to this migratory project, so they cannot afford long stays at any point along the route, because they could run out of resources to continue their journey to the north".
The Honduran Red Cross is providing support to the migrants blocked in Choluteca to try to alleviate the basic needs of migrants who hope to be able to follow their route when the restrictions on movement imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic are lifted.
The Honduran Red Cross is providing support to the migrants blocked in Choluteca in order to meet their basic needs. Those migrants continue to hope to be able to continue their journey up north when the movement restrictions imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic are lifted. The Honduran Red Cross identified the need to set up shelters to accommodate those migrants, who often have to stay with Honduran families, or in hotels in the area. Other services being provided to migrants include health assistance to prevent coronavirus and dengue; distribution of food, hygiene kits, drinking water, and biosecurity supplies; restoration of family contacts; access to the Internet; psychosocial support, etc.
Language is an additional issue because most of the migrants barely speak Spanish or English, making it difficult for Red Cross teams to provide, for example, psychosocial support. According to Dunia Varela, Health Officer at the Honduran Red Cross: "The difficulty of language, the masks and the PPE (personal protective equipment) we have to wear during the COVID-19 outbreak, makes it even more difficult to empathize with migrants, because they cannot see our faces or expressions, although in most cases it is very gratifying when we manage to get them to open up to us and share what worries them".
The Red Cross is particularly concerned about the situation of migrants and voluntary returnees to countries of origin in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, and is working hard to alleviate their suffering and meet their basic needs in transit countries and at the borders.
| Press release
Dengue spreads across Central America, Red Cross scales up response
Panama/Geneva, 27 September 2019–-As dengue spreads rapidly across Central America, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is scaling up emergency assistance to help countries contain the mosquito borne viral disease.
In Honduras, more than 71,200 people have been affected by the disease making it the worst outbreak in the country’s history. Nearly one quarter of the cases reported were classified as severe dengue and more than 65 percent of the 128 deaths so far are children under 15.
Guatemala, Nicaragua, El Salvador and Costa Rica are also reporting massive increases in dengue cases compared to previous years.
Dr Maria Franca Tallarico, Head of Health at IFRC’s Regional Office for the Americas said:
“Dengue is endemic across the Americas, but what is very concerning in this outbreak is that the majority of the cases and deaths are occurring in children under 15. This is due to a lack of immunity in young people to the deadliest of the four strains of dengue currently circulating in the region.”
A combination of seasonal rains and warming temperatures are being blamed for dengue’s rapid spread--creating more stagnant pools that are perfect breeding grounds for mosquitoes. There are rising concerns that this will make the outbreak will be harder to contain.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), rising global temperatures rainfall patterns linked to climate change could significantly modify vector-borne diseases and their effect on human populations—making epidemics more difficult to predict and control.
Teams of Red Cross volunteers in affected Central American countries have been supporting government efforts to slow the outbreak—providing door to door awareness raising about the disease and how to prevent it. With their unique access to affected communities, the Red Cross volunteers are helping to clean up mosquito breeding sites or accompanying health workers to identify cases.
Dr Tallarico said:
“The size of this outbreak is unprecedented across Central America. Dengue is a disease that affects the most vulnerable--those who live in places where there is poor sanitation and where mosquitoes thrive. But the disease can be contained if governments and communities work together to raise awareness, access medical care and clean up the environment. This is what the Red Cross teams across affected countries are focused on doing.”
The IFRC has launched a regional appeal seeking a total of 2.9 million Swiss francs to support the National Red Cross Societies in Central America to deliver assistance and support to 550,000 people for 12 months. The appeal will focus on community health, water and sanitation and promoting behaviours changes that prevent the decease.
Dengue cases have increased 30-fold over the last 50 years, according to the World Health Organization. As one of the world’s fastest growing diseases, dengue is endemic in 100 countries infecting up to50-100 million people a year.
The joy of learning by helping
For Gladys, her experience with the “Children Affected by Migration” project has been rewarding. She is surprised to see how children express themselves, their handling of information about migration and the effect it has on them both directly and indirectly. There are children who have parents who are in other countries and other children who have the fear that their parents will make the decision to leave; spending time with them has changed her perspective on life, it has been a total change at a personal and professional level.
"Like any project, it has had its advantages and disadvantages," says Gladys, pointing out that working with children is a little tiring, as they are growing and full of energy.
But the biggest difficulty is not working with small children, but their parents, who sometimes don't show enough support to the project, when following up with a treatment in suggested. "We refer children who are going to receive psychological care who are being emotionally affected, so in that case we've had a little rejection from the parents because they go into denial," said Gladys.
Regarding the development of the project, Gladys commented that all the activities that have been carried out have been incredible. These activities are carried out according to a methodological script, showing the competence of all volunteers in their work, both volunteer psychologists and those who are part of the support provided by the municipality.
Gladys began volunteering at the Honduran Red Cross as a student at the University; the Honduran Red Cross was the first organization where she began to develop what she had learned in the career of Psychology. The project "Children Affected by Migration", has been a way to grow professionally, since it allows her to put into practice what she learned, helping her to better understand the work with children.
"It is an incredible experience. To understand the mentality of children, how creative they are; to work with teachers, who are often unfamiliar with the proper way to support a child, and showing them techniques to help them with an emotional problem", says Gladys excited.
After asking her if she would volunteer for the Honduran Red Cross again, she said yes, sharing the anecdote that she was once ill but when she recovered, she returned to the organization without hesitation, making the Honduran Red Cross part of her life.