| 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]
Empress Shôken fund 100th distribution announcement
The Empress Shôken Fund is named after Her Majesty the Empress of Japan, who proposed – at the 9th International Conference of the Red Cross – the creation of an international fund to promote relief work in peacetime.
It is administered by the Joint Commission of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and the International Committee of the Red Cross, which maintains close contact with the Japanese Permanent Mission in Geneva, the Japanese Red Cross Society and the Meiji Jingu Research Institute in Japan.
The Fund has a total value of over 16 million Swiss francs and supports projects run by National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies to benefit their communities in various ways.
The first grant was awarded in 1921, to help five European National Societies fight the spread of tuberculosis. Since then, 169 National Societies have received 14 million Swiss francs. To mark the Fund’s 100th year of awarding grants, a short video was developed to highlight what the Fund stands for and showcase how it has supported National Societies through the years.
The imperial family, the Japanese government, the Japanese Red Cross and the Japanese people revere the memory of Her Majesty Empress Shôken, and their enduring regard for the Fund is evident in the regularity of their contributions to it.
The grants are usually announced every year on 11 April, the anniversary of her death. This year the announcement is being published earlier due to the weekend.
The selection process
The Fund received 28 applications in 2021 covering a diverse range of humanitarian projects run by National Societies in every region of the world.
This year the Joint Commission agreed to allocate a total of 475,997 Swiss francs to 16 projects in Argentina, the Bahamas, Benin, Costa Rica, Estonia, Georgia, Iran, Kenya, Malawi, Nicaragua, Pakistan, the Philippines, Romania, South Sudan, Timor-Leste and Viet Nam.
The projects to be supported in 2021 cover a number of themes, including youth engagement, disaster preparedness, National Society development and health, especially the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.
The Fund continues to encourage new and innovative approaches with the potential to generate insights that will benefit the Movement as a whole.
The 2021 grants
The Argentine Red Cross is taking an innovative approach to talent management using new technologies. It will use the grant to develop a talent-management module to be implemented in 65 branches, enabling the National Society to attract and retain employees and volunteers.
The Bahamas Red Cross Society will put the grant towards building staff and volunteers’ capacities and expanding its network on five islands, with a view to implementing community- and ecosystem-based approaches to reducing disaster risk and increasing climate resilience.
The Red Cross of Benin seek to help vulnerable women become more autonomous. The grant will support them in developing income-generating activities and building their professional skills.
The Costa Rica Red Cross will use the grant to enable communities in the remote Cabécar and Bribri indigenous territories to better manage emergencies, holding workshops on first aid, risk prevention and emergency health care in connection with climate events and health emergencies, including COVID-19.
The Estonia Red Cross is working to build competencies in four key areas, including in recruiting, training and retaining volunteers. The funds will support the development of a volunteer database to help effectively manage information, especially against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic.
With widespread COVID-19 transmission in Georgia, the Georgia Red Cross Society is working to help national authorities limit the impact of the pandemic. It will put the grant towards promoting good hygiene and raising awareness of the importance of vaccination.
The Red Crescent Society of Islamic Republic of Iran is focused on building local capacity with youth volunteers by boosting small businesses in outreach areas. The grant will be used for training, capacity-building and development in local partner institutions, generating income for community members.
The COVID-19 pandemic and related restrictions have affected how the Kenya Red Cross Society does its humanitarian work. The grant will be used to launch an online volunteer platform to encourage and facilitate youth volunteering.
The Malawi Red Cross Society must be ready to respond to disasters due to climate variability and climate change. The funds will allow the National Society to establish a pool of trained emergency responders who can swing into action within 72 hours of a disaster.
The Nicaraguan Red Cross is working to protect the elderly from COVID-19. The grant will be used in three care homes located in the municipalities of Somoto, Sébaco and Jinotepe to provide medical assistance, prevent and control infections, and promote mental health as a basic element of self-care through training and support sessions and other activities.
The Pakistan Red Crescent seeks to improve how it manages blood donations. The funds will enable the National Society to increase the capacity of its blood donor centre and raise awareness of voluntary unpaid blood donation by holding World Blood Donor Day in 2021.
The Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) for All project of the Philippine Red Cross aims to develop WASH guidelines and promote them in the community. The grant will be used for training and capacity-building around providing health services in emergencies.
In Romania, teenagers in residential centres are vulnerable to sexual and gender-based violence for a number of reasons, including a lack of both psychosocial education and staff trained in dealing with this kind of violence through trauma-informed care. The grant will enable the Red Cross of Romania to reduce the vulnerability of 60 teenagers in residential centres by increasing knowledge and aiding the development of safe relationships.
The South Sudan Red Cross is working to encourage young people to adapt to climate change by planting fruit trees. The grant will support this initiative, which aims to reduce the impact of climate change and increase food production.
In 2020 the Timor-Leste Red Cross launched an education programme aimed at increasing young people’s knowledge about reproductive health. The funds will be used to expand the programme – already active in five of the National Society’s branches – to the remaining eight branches.
The Viet Nam Red Cross aims to further engage with authorities and become more self-sufficient through fundraising. It will use the grant to build its personnel’s capacities by providing training courses on proposal writing, project management and social welfare.
The Bahamas Red Cross Society
Hurricane Dorian anniversary: Thousands supported during a global pandemic and in the midst of hurricane
One year after Hurricane Dorian devastated communities in the Bahamas, the Red Cross has assisted thousands of families with emergency relief, financial assistance and support for long-term recovery.
Hurricane Dorian made landfall in the Bahamas on 1 September 2019 as a destructive category 5 storm. It caused extensive flooding and damage across the Abaco Islands and Grand Bahama.
Rundell Fowler is a resident of Grand Bahama. Her roof was ripped off during the hurricane. Through the Red Cross Home Repair program, she received financial assistance, which allowed her to pay for repairs and strengthen her home in case of future storms.
“It was a great help and we’re in hurricane season again, so I am very grateful,” she said
After Hurricane Dorian, Joel Hepburn said, his home was so destroyed that he wasn’t sure he would be able to stay on Abaco Island, a place he had lived his whole life. But with financial support from the Red Cross he has been able to buy the materials he needs to fix up his house and stay.
Volunteers and staff with the Bahamas Red Cross have supported communities since before the storm. They worked in shelters, delivered emergency aid including more than $11 million USD in emergency financial assistance to more than 3,000 families, supported recovery rental assistance and housing repair programs, and help families prepare for the current hurricane season, which has already pushed 14 storms through the Caribbean.
“As we continue to help people in the Bahamas recover and rebuild after Hurricane Dorian, we are doing so while keeping the next hurricane in mind. If communities build back stronger and more resilient it can reduce the impact of extreme weather events,” said Baylar Talibov, Hurricane Dorian Operations Manager for the International Federation of Red Cross and Crescent.
This important work continues while operating within the tremendously complex situation created by COVID-19, that limited the movement of volunteers and in-person access to communities on affected islands. The COVID-19 pandemic directly impacted vulnerable families recovering from Hurricane Dorian. Throughout this difficult time, the Red Cross continues to support people in their recovery process while helping those impacted by COVID-19. Bahamas Red Cross and partners continue to support ongoing recovery interventions including rental assistance, home repair assistance, small business grants, psychosocial support, and community engagement.
“We know the road to recovery is long, and the Red Cross is here for the journey. We were in communities to support vulnerable people before, and we are there now and into the future. It is very important to recognize the dedication of Red Cross staff and volunteers in the Bahamas as they continue to support others in these difficult times,” said Ariel Kestens, IFRC Head of Country Cluster for the English- and Dutch-Speaking Caribbean.
| Press release
Hurricane Dorian anniversary: Thousands supported during a global pandemic and in the midst of hurricane season
Panama/Geneva, 1 September 2020 — One year after Hurricane Dorian devastated communities in the Bahamas, the Red Cross has assisted thousands of families with emergency relief, financial assistance and support for long-term recovery. This important work continues while operating within the tremendously complex situation created by COVID-19, that limited the movement of volunteers and in-person access to communities on affected islands.
Hurricane Dorian made landfall in the Bahamas on 1 September 2019 as a destructive category 5 storm. It caused extensive flooding and damage across the Abaco Islands and Grand Bahama. Volunteers and staff with the Bahamas Red Cross have supported communities since before the storm. They worked in shelters, delivered aid including more than $ US 11 million in emergency financial assistance to more than 3,000 families, supported recovery rental assistance and housing repair programmes, and helping families prepare for the current hurricane season, which has already pushed 14 storms through the Caribbean.
Rundell Fowler is a resident of Grand Bahama. Her roof was ripped off during the hurricane. Through the Red Cross Home Repair programme, she received financial assistance, which allowed her to pay for repairs and strengthen her home in case of future storms. She said: “It was a great help and we’re in hurricane season again, so I am very grateful.”
The Red Cross is working with communities to ensure they are ready to address tropical storms and hurricane conditions during COVID-19. Bahamas Red Cross is working with the National Emergency Management Agency supporting plans for preparedness and response, including the opening of shelters. The Bahamas Red Cross shares information about how-to be ready for disasters and how to be prepared during the pandemic.
The COVID-19 pandemic directly impacted vulnerable families recovering from Hurricane Dorian. Throughout this difficult time, the Red Cross continues to support people in their recovery process while helping those impacted by COVID-19. Bahamas Red Cross and partners continue to support ongoing recovery interventions including rental assistance, home repair assistance, small business grants, psychosocial support, and community engagement.
Ariel Kestens International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies’ Head of Country Cluster for the English and Dutch Speaking Caribbean, said:
“We know the road to recovery is long, and the Red Cross is here for the journey. We were in communities to support vulnerable people before and we are there now and into the future. It is very important to recognize the dedication of Red Cross staff and volunteers in the Bahamas as they continue to support others in these difficult times.”
| Press release
Red Cross in Bahamas preparing for Hurricane Isaias, while balancing COVID-19 response and Hurricane Dorian recovery
Panama/Port of Spain, 31 July 2020 — The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is working alongside the Bahamas Red Cross to prepare for Hurricane Isaias.
A hurricane warning is in effect in the Bahamas with storm surge, hurricane-force winds, and heavy rainfall expected on the south eastern islands today and continuing through the weekend.
Effective preparedness and early action in disaster saves lives and livelihoods. The Red Cross is working with communities to ensure they are ready to address possible hurricane conditions during the time of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Bahamas Red Cross is working closely with the National Emergency Management Agency supporting plans for preparedness and response, including the opening of shelters. The Bahamas Red Cross is sharing information about how-to be ready for disaster, and the latest information about the storm. Red Cross volunteers have been trained in using personal protection equipment and are ready to mobilize in response to Hurricane Isaias.
“The team in the Bahamas is managing three difficult emergencies simultaneously: they are preparing for Hurricane Isaias, addressing and supporting people impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, and continuing to help in recovery from Hurricane Dorian,” said Ariel Kestens IFRC Head of Country Cluster for the English and Dutch Speaking Caribbean.
“The Red Cross is continuing our work, as well as monitoring the situation to determine our ongoing course of action and how to continue to best meet the needs of vulnerable communities during these difficult times.”
To mitigate the impacts of a hurricane and associated flooding, the Red Cross has pre-positioned humanitarian relief supplies in key areas throughout the region. Across the Caribbean, Red Cross volunteers are sharing early warning and preparedness messages, and they are 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.
Latin America and the Caribbean are disaster-prone regions. The IFRC advocates for climate change adaptation measures to mitigate the humanitarian impact of these disasters.
As people return to their home, the Red Cross is providing ongoing support
[et_pb_section bb_built="1"][et_pb_row][et_pb_column type="4_4"][et_pb_image _builder_version="3.7" src="http://media.ifrc.org/ifrc/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/20191105_Bahamas-hurricane-dorian_IMG_LS_2-1.jpg" /][et_pb_text _builder_version="3.7"]
By Angela Hill, IFRC
In the three months since Hurricane Dorian struck the Bahamas, devastating parts of the islands of Grand Bahama and Abaco, the Red Cross has helped thousands of families with emergency, life-saving relief, financial assistance, psychosocial support.
As people return to their home island to start recovery, the Red Cross is providing ongoing support.
More than six weeks after they evacuated Murphy Town, on Abaco Island, Della and Jacob Davis returned to the place they call home. Like many, they had trouble recognizing their community it was so changed by the Category 5 storm.
Della recalls the night of the storm like it was yesterday. She said she remembered the water was up to the windows, and parts of the roof had been blown off when she heard people calling.
“The water was so high, my heart wouldn’t allow to let the people stay out there in that time,” she said. “I said … ‘I can’t let these people die out there.’”
She invited them all into their home and waited as the water came in higher.
“If the water had come up any higher we would have just stood there and died because we didn’t have any other place to go.”
Everyone in the house evacuated to Nassau. Jacob said that as people return to Abaco they “try to be there for each other.”
Red Cross was able to support the couple with emergency relief. While some people are returning home to Abaco, others plan to stay in Nassau, at least in the near future.
[/et_pb_text][et_pb_image _builder_version="3.7" src="http://media.ifrc.org/ifrc/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/20191019_Bahamas-hurricane-dorian-IMG_LS_1-1.jpg" /][et_pb_text _builder_version="3.7"]
Laurel Dean and her sister Emilyann Johnson evacuated to New Providence island, in the aftermath of the Hurricane Dorian. Both are working hard to get themselves and their families back on their feet.
“When you have that mindset, there is nothing else you can do just push forward,” Emilyann said.
“You work hand in hand with us,” she said of the Red Cross support the pair received.
During a recent financial distribution, more than one family left in tears of joy. Over and over people said how grateful they were, how Christmas is coming and how they didn’t know how they could continue to make ends meet and have a Christmas celebration for their family.
[/et_pb_text][et_pb_image _builder_version="3.7" src="http://media.ifrc.org/ifrc/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/20191129_Bahamas-Hurricane-Dorian_IMG_LS_1-1-DA.jpg" /][et_pb_text _builder_version="3.7"]
Ray and Agnes Cumberbatch hugged every volunteer in the building after they received assistance in Grand Bahama.
“I came in here burdened. I had a lot going on, I had a lot on my mind, with the passing of Hurricane Dorian and walking in here just now and then leaving, I’m just ‘wow,’” Agnes said.
| Press release
Hurricane Dorian: More than 9,000 families supported in storm aftermath
Panama/Geneva/Bahamas, 2 December 2019 – Three months after communities across the Bahamas were devastated by Hurricane Dorian, the Red Cross has supported more than 9,000 families by providing emergency relief, psychosocial support, and financial assistance.
In the aftermath of the storm, Laurel Dean, her sister Emilyann Johnson, and their children were evacuated to Nassau. Their home on Abaco Island was destroyed, so the sisters are finding jobs, enrolling their kids in school and working hard to get back on their feet.
“When you have that mindset, there is nothing else you can do except just push forward,” Emilyann said. The Red Cross is supporting their recovery through financial assistance.
Volunteers and staff from the Bahamas Red Cross have been supporting affected communities since Hurricane Dorian made landfall on 1 September. The Category 5 storm remained in the Bahamas for almost two days, causing widespread destruction to homes and infrastructure – particularly on the northern islands of Grand Bahama and Abaco.
Three months later, communities have regained teleconnectivity, road access has improved, and ports and airports are operational again. Many residents are starting to return home to Abaco and Grand Bahama to assess the damage to their homes and determine their next steps.
Red Cross and Red Crescent partners, including the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) continue to support people affected by the disaster. The emergency relief phase is now transitioning into one of long-term recovery. Ongoing interventions include health care, water, sanitation and hygiene, financial assistance, and activities designed to prevent and respond to violence against vulnerable groups.
Walter Cotte, IFRC’s Regional Director for the Americas, said: “Extreme weather events like Hurricane Dorian can’t be prevented, but they don’t have to become disasters of the scale we saw in the Bahamas.
“We now need to rebuild and repair with the next hurricane in mind, by ensuring communities have stronger buildings and more resilient infrastructure. This will greatly reduce the impact of future hazards by reducing long-term vulnerabilities across the islands and limiting people’s exposure to potentially catastrophic climate-related events.”
| Press release
Bahamas: As first pictures of devastation emerge, Red Cross issues urgent appeal for funds
Geneva, 4 September 2019 – With access to the battered islands of Abaco and Grand Bahamas slowly beginning to open up, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) has started rolling out a major emergency relief effort.
Initial aerial assessments released overnight confirm widespread devastation to the islands. According to national and regional authorities, it is estimated that approximately 76,000 people – the vast majority of residents on the two islands – have been affected by Hurricane Dorian which made landfall as a Category 5, and then hovered over the island nation for the better part of two days.
The Bahamas Red Cross/IFRC relief effort will focus on addressing the needs of the most vulnerable. Among this group may include some of an estimated 4,400 children under 15, as well as approximately 1,600 older people.
Stephen McAndrew, IFRC’s Deputy Regional Director for the Americas, said:
“Now that Dorian is moving away from the Bahamas, there is a window of opportunity to save lives and begin to ease the suffering of these communities.
“We have had a rapid assessment and response team on standby since the beginning of the week – they will move in today to join our previously deployed team members already in Nassau. We also have a first flight of relief supplies being loaded at our logistics hub in Panama – it can move as soon as the airports are up and running.
“Speed is of the essence.”
The IFRC appeal is seeking about 3.2 million Swiss francs (US$ 3.2 million). It focuses primarily on providing short- and mid-term shelter assistance to families, as well as replacing lost and necessary household goods such as lamps, cell phone chargers and tarpaulins.
Red Cross volunteers and staff will also distribute hot meals and food rations to people who may have gone without food in days, before shifting their focus to distributing cash grants. This approach gives people the agency to make their own decisions about what they need, and helps inject cash into local economies.
Other interventions include health, psychological support, water, sanitation and hygiene, and activities designed to prevent and respond to violence against vulnerable groups, including sexual and gender-based violence.
IFRC has already released 500,000 Swiss francs from its Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF) to ensure an immediate supply of cash for the response teams on the ground.
| Press release
Bahamas: Shelter and clean water priorities in wake of “catastrophic” hurricane
Geneva, 2 September 2019 – Hurricane Dorian has caused extensive damage across the islands of Abaco and Grand Bahama in the Bahamas, according to rapid initial assessments from authorities and Red Cross officials on the ground.
According to these reports, Dorian’s ferocious category 5 winds and rains have damaged houses and other buildings, leaving many people without adequate shelter. As many as 13,000 houses may have been severely damaged or destroyed. On the island of Abaco, extensive flooding is believed to have contaminated wells with saltwater, creating an urgent need for clean water.
Sune Bulow, Head of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies’ (IFRC) Emergency Operation Centre in Geneva, said:
“We don’t yet have a complete picture of what has happened. But it is clear that Hurricane Dorian has had a catastrophic impact. We anticipate extensive shelter needs, alongside the need for short-term economic support, as well as for clean water and health assistance.”
IFRC has this morning released 250,000 Swiss francs from its Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF) to bolster the first wave of the Bahamas Red Cross’ response. About 500 families will receive emergency shelter assistance, including tarpaulins, blankets, kitchen sets, and solar cell phone chargers.
The same families will also be provided with unconditional cash grants, which will allow them to repair and replace what they have lost, while also helping to bolster local economies in the short term. IFRC deployed a disaster management coordinator to Bahamas ahead of Dorian’s landfall in anticipation of emergency response needs.
Hurricane Dorian is now heading towards Florida and the US’ eastern coast. According to the American Red Cross, 19 million people live in areas that could be impacted by the storm, with as many as 50,000 people in Florida, Georgia and South Carolina potentially in need of emergency shelter depending on its impact.
Hundreds of trained Red Cross volunteers, emergency response vehicles and more than 30 truck loads of relief supplies are being mobilized to help people living in the path of Hurricane Dorian.
Donate to the Bahamas - Hurricane Dorian campaign: