Justmore than one month ago, a 6.2-magnitude earthquake struck Linxia Prefecture of Gansu Province in China. The quake struck at midnight on December 18, 2023, as people were sleeping through a cold winter night,destroying homes and claiming lives.With its well-developed disaster preparedness capacity and an established cooperation mechanism with its provincial chapters, the Red Cross Society of China (RCSC) responded immediately, swiftly carrying out rescue and relief work as it raced with time to save lives.The first batch of relief items dispatched by the RCSC arrived within the first 12 hours after the earthquake.In coming hours and days,more than 20 Red Cross rescue teams in five categories – from medical relief to psychological support – were dispatched to the disaster area.The teams carried out comprehensive response work,including search and rescue, basic aid material, psychological support, provision of meals and toilets, construction of resettlement sites, as well as transportation and distribution of disaster relief materials.Within ten days of the earthquake, the people affected by the earthquake had moved into clean and warm temporary shelters and schools had resumed classes.Now, with the rapid response complete, the operation has moved to the post-disaster recovery and reconstruction stage.Mental health: a key part of recoveryWith the gradual normalization of people’s lives, some places in the village havestarted to offer skill training courses such as welding, elderly care and housekeeping, with training subsidies provided. The training sessions aim to make people more confident and capable of rebuilding their homes and livelihoods.Another key building block in the recovery is helping people adjust to the massive disruption the earthquake has had in their lives. This is one reason why volunteers regularly organize counselling sessions, as well as fun, lively activities, and games for children in many of the resettlement areas."Are you coming back tomorrow?" onechild asks Chunhui Ji, a team leader from the Red Cross's Gansu Mingrui psychological service team after one such joyful session of games at one of the resettlement sites."Crisis intervention is an important part of post-disaster recovery,” saysChunhui Ji. “If timely counselling is not provided, it will affect the psychological and even physical health of the affected people long after the disaster, especially affecting the growth of young people.”The difference the counselling is making can be seen in the way the children interact with each other before and after the sessions. One small boy — frightened by the earthquake and its aftermath — was reluctant to play or talk. After the counselling with the psychological team member, however, his nervousness eased a lot and he began to actively join in the games with his friends."Disasters like earthquakes are sudden with serious damage," saidTao Tian, a team member of the psychological rescue team and doctor of Ningxia Ningan Hospital. “Throughout the disaster and post-disaster periods, people may exhibit varying degrees of psychological stress at different times, requiring tailored intervention techniques to help restore mental health.”The RCSC attached great importance to the mental well-being of the affected people, giving priority to the psychological counselling of adolescents and children.Responding to the imperative need, 25 members from Gansu and Ningxia Red Cross Psychological rescue teams had been fully operational at the resettlement sites since the third day after the earthquake.“People are exposed to extremely distressing events when disasters, such as an earthquake, happen to them,”says Olga Dzhumaeva, Head of IFRC East Asia Delegation. “Addressing people’s mental health is a vital part of what we do during and after a disaster. Psychosocial support to affected people, including children, is key to humanitarian response, bringing priceless impact on the life of people who are in critical need.”Some information from Xinhua News Agency
Your Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,
It is a pleasure to address the 2023 Belt and Road Ministerial Forum for International Cooperation in Disaster Risk Reduction and Emergency Management.
I congratulate the Government of China for their leadership on this initiative, which has marked significant achievements and efforts on disaster risk reduction and emergency management over the past ten years.
The IFRC welcomes our partnerships, including with the Government of China, that supports our Disaster Response Emergency Fund for the most efficient response to disasters and crises.
Friends and colleagues, we have witnessed a year of unprecedented disasters around the world, which have been further compounded by climate change and geopolitical conflicts.
Global humanitarian needs are rising at an alarming rate.
These needs are vastly outstripping the resources available to address them.
The human costs of disasters and crises remains unacceptably high.
As the world’s largest global humanitarian network, with a unique global and local reach, the IFRC has been supporting the National Societies in impacted countries to respond to the needs of crisis-affected communities.
The Government of China and the Red Cross Society of China have also been providing urgently needed humanitarian assistance to our IFRC network.
Still, more needs to be done.
Today, I have three important messages I would like to share with you.
Firstly, the climate crisis is the biggest multiplier in increasing disaster risks.
If humanity fails to act, hundreds of millions of people will put in a highly increased disaster risk because of the humanitarian impacts of the climate crisis.
There is an urgent need to integrate climate adaptation in emergency preparedness and response.
The IFRC is working with our member National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies across the world to strengthen the coordination, preparedness and response to large-scale disasters and crises.
Secondly, investing in disaster risk reduction saves lives and livelihoods.
Over the last decade, some of the most recent—and often predictable—extreme weather events were the most deadly, costly, and devastating.
The IFRC network has been transforming our emergency response mechanisms to integrate early warning approaches that anticipate disasters so that people can act ahead of time to save lives and livelihoods.
This helps them recover and build resilience to the next disaster.
It is encouraging to see recent efforts in China to reinforce disaster prevention measures and scale up early warning and early action systems.
Finally, global solidarity and multi-sectoral collaboration is must to bring the disaster preparedness and emergency response to scale.
It will take joining forces to prepare for and effectively respond to the potential mega disasters.
No one organization can do this alone.
The Belt and Road Initiative on Disaster Risk Reduction and Emergency Management offers us a platform and opportunity to work together and confront the challenges of today and in the future.
I am especially pleased to see that localization and investment in local actors is included in this years’ Joint Statement.
The IFRC welcomes collaboration with the Government of China and other countries along the Belt and Road Initiative to reduce the humanitarian needs.
I wish you all a successful Ministerial Forum, and I wish you many positive discussions and outcomes from this important event.
In recent weeks, floods have been hitting communities and making headlines around the world.
Let’s take a look at some of the countries dealing with flooding and see how Red Cross and Red Crescent teams are helping people who have been affected.
Torrential rains over the past couple of weeks have affected two-thirds of Slovenia, prompting the country’s Prime Minister to declare it the ‘biggest natural disaster’ in the country’s history.
The floods have killed three people and destroyed bridges, roads and houses - causing an estimated 500 million euros of damage.
Volunteers from the Slovenian Red Cross have been delivering food, water and medicine to people affected by the floods – often on foot, since it’s the only way to reach many isolated communities. They’re also accompanying people staying in temporary shelters.
The Czech Red Cross, Croatian Red Cross, Hungarian Red Cross and Polish Red Cross have all shown solidarity by sending additional food, water and hygiene items into the country to help with the response.
In Norway, Norwegian Red Cross volunteers are helping people affected Storm Hans, which is causing havoc across the south of the country – bringing extreme rain, landslides and floods.
Volunteers are assisting with evacuations, running emergency ambulances, delivering food to isolated people and building sandbag flood defences. Many local branches remain on high alert, with more volunteers standing by to support as the situation develops.
With millions reeling from the ongoing conflict in Sudan, communities across White Nile state have also now been impacted by heavy rains and flash floods.
Torrents of water swept away and destroyed everything in their path. Families have lost homes and belongings, and many are resorting to sleeping outside in the open air.
Shelter and clean water are needed urgently. Sudanese Red Crescent Society volunteers, who have already been responding to people’s needs during the conflict, are assessing the situation closely to provide additional support.
Torrential rains and floods have hit East Asia severely this summer, including areas of north, northeast and southern China. Beijing has seen the largest rainfall experienced in the city in the past 140 years.
Disaster relief teams from the Red Cross Society of China are helping people in flood-stricken areas – supporting with clean-up and recovery, as well as distributing household items, quilts, waterproof jackets and more.
In the Philippines, Typhoons Doksuri and Khanun (known locally as Egay and Falcon) have brought devastating floods.
An estimated 313,000 people have been displaced by Doksuri alone, and more than 25 people have sadly lost their lives.
Philippine Red Cross volunteers have been bringing relief supplies, meals, medical assistance and psychosocial support to affected communities.
Flash floods and heavy rainfall have caused loss of life, injuries and severe damage to hundreds of households in Afghanistan – a country already experiencing complex humanitarian crises.
Afghan Red Crescent and IFRC emergency teams are providing urgent relief – including blankets, jerry cans, tarpaulins and shelter kits. And mobile health teams are bringing medical services to remote communities.
In Iran, Iranian Red Crescent Society teams have been responding to flooding in Sistan Balochistan, North Khorasan and West Azerbaijan provinces – deploying 35 response teams and providing support to hundreds of people.
Volunteer teams have been rescuing people stranded in the flood waters, setting up temporary shelters, and providing essential items.
In western Honduras, localized flooding caused by rainstorms hit the town of Copan Ruinas – damaging homes and local businesses.
The local Honduran Red Cross branch responded quickly to distribute relief items to local people and help clear up debris and fallen trees.
Thank you to all our National Societies for supporting communities affected by floods in recent weeks.
If you'd like to learn more about floods and how you can prepare, click here.
Kuala Lumpur/Dhaka/Beijing, 10 August 2023 – Countries across Asia Pacific are reeling from multiple disasters that are wreaking havoc in the region and climate analysts attribute this to a phenomenon called El Niño. The International Federation of Red Cross Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) urges authorities and humanitarian organizations to brace for multiple disasters hitting simultaneously, with more intensity.
These past few months, the IFRC has released eight Disaster Response Emergency Fund (DREF) allocations for climate related events – three for dengue to Bangladesh, Nepal, and Sri Lanka, three for floods, to Mongolia, Pakistan, and Afghanistan, one for a tropical cyclone to Bangladesh, and one for a cold wave event to Mongolia.
Although the full impact of the phenomenon is expected in the months of September this year to March next year, many regions in Asia and the Pacific are already facing multiple hazards now, and they all point to a deteriorating climate situation.
In Bangladesh, dengue infections have swarmed the nation and there have been almost 30,000 new cases this year, almost 5 times higher than last year's numbers. Moreover, local public health experts confirm that many people are being infected with multiple types of dengue, making the treatment complicated.
Sanjeev Kafley, Head of IFRC Bangladesh Delegation says:
"We are working closely with the Bangladesh Red Crescent Society (BDRCS) and health authorities to combat the situation. In 85 dengue hotspot wards in the cities of Dhaka, Chattogram, and Barishal, our volunteers are focusing on public awareness and prevention efforts. We are progressing to procure testing kits for our health authorities as well as supporting the availability of platelet concentrate through the blood banks of BDRCS. We are supporting in all intervention points, from life-saving areas to preventative measures."
IFRC’s climate mitigation efforts at national levels in different countries are towards improving water management systems, curbing mosquito breeding, strengthening surveillance and monitoring systems to track outbreaks and increase health care capacity to managing cases and providing treatment.
Olga Dzhumaeva, Head of IFRC East Asia Delegation says:
“Torrential rains and floods hit East Asia severely this summer. North, northeast and some regions in southern China saw one of the largest rainfalls Beijing has experienced in the past 140 years. Capital city Ulaanbaatar and 13 provinces in Mongolia, central parts and many provinces of the Republic of Korea, and in the Kyushu region of Japan also suffered from severe impact of extreme rains in July. As a result, millions of people in East Asia were greatly affected and displaced, and roads, bridges, homes, and infrastructures were very badly damaged, many beyond repair. In responding to the situation, our colleagues and volunteers from National Societies in China, Japan, Mongolia and Republic of Korea have been deployed to the front lines, activating their emergency responses, making every effort to evacuate people trapped by the floods and debris, and urgently sending relief supplies such as blankets, tents, folding beds to the affected areas.”
IFRC, National Societies, and its partners believe we equally need to focus on resilience building through inclusion of nature, anticipation, adaptation and mitigation. Early or anticipatory action, for example, whereby funds are proactively allocated based on weather forecasts to support people at risk before disaster strikes is an important emphasis in the context of rapidly increasing climate hazards.
Luis Rodriguez, IFRC Asia Pacific, Lead for Climate and Resilience says:
“These events were more intense than usual due to the prevailing warming conditions, and this brings heavier precipitations, triggering cyclones, rains, and floods. These climate factors also heavily influence the dynamics of infections. Increased rainfall creates new and conducive habitats for larvae or viruses, and increased temperature accelerates the development of insects carrying viruses and virus incubation time. Severe changes in temperature and precipitation patterns due to climate change will enable the spread and transmission of disease in areas that are currently considered low risk or dengue free. These are all not stand-alone events. They are connected.”
In anticipation of more extreme weather events that will hit more regions in the Asia Pacific, national societies together with IFRC are carrying out heavy preparedness measures such as heatwave action planning, simulations and drills, prepositioning of relief stocks, and evacuation and rescue equipment, and urgent refreshers on procedures and regulations for volunteers, staff, and technical teams. Moreover, the DREFs ensure National Societies can act speedily and efficiently and this means millions of lives and livelihoods are saved.
For more information or to request an interview, please contact:
In Kuala Lumpur:
Afrhill Rances, [email protected] , +60 19 271 3641
Anna Tuson, [email protected] , +41 79 895 6924
Volunteers and staff from the Red Cross Society of China are supporting communities in the aftermath of Typhoon Lekima, which has now affected more than 6.51 million people in the provinces of Zhejiang, Shanghai, Jiangsu, Anhui, Shandong and Fujian.
The typhoon brought torrential rain and heavy winds that knocked out electricity, caused flooding and landslides. As of 11 August, more than 1.45 million people were relocated to safer areas, 3,500 houses have collapsed, and a further 35,000 have been damaged. Some 265,500 hectares of crops have been affected by the disaster.
Before Lekima hit, the Red Cross went door-to-door passing on official warnings to help people stay safe. More than 1,100 volunteers were deployed to help deliver thousands of raincoats, bedding and other emergency supplies to people in need.
Volunteers and staff of the Red Cross Society of China are helping communities get ready for the arrival of Typhoon Lekima, a Category 3 hurricane that has already damaged many communities in the Philippines.
The typhoon is currently located in the North West Pacific Ocean and has maximum sustained winds of 194 km/h, and wind gusts up to 241 km/h. It is expected to make landfall near Zhejiang (Eastern China). A red alert has been issued andfFlood warnings are in place for eastern sections of the Yangtze River and the Yellow River until 14 August. The provinces of Jiangsu and Shandong are also on alert.
The Red Cross Society of China’s Zhejiang Branch issued an early warning of yesterday and has provided the public with information on basic measures to prepare for the typhoon. The Red Cross is monitoring the situation.
The storm affected more than 17,000 households in the Philippines and caused flooding in more than 400 areas of the country. Philippine Red Cross volunteers distributed 1,200 hot meals to people in Ilolio, Zamabales and Davao; distributed hygiene kits to 16 families in Paranaque, and mobilised its volunteers to support welfare desks at evacuation centres in Guimaras, Zambales and Davao.