| Press release
Heatwaves account for some of the deadliest disasters and are intensifying, warn the IFRC and the UN humanitarian relief agency ahead of COP27
Geneva, 10 October – Record high temperatures this year—which are fueling catastrophes in Somalia, Pakistan and around the world—foreshadow a future with deadlier, more frequent and more intense heat-related humanitarian emergencies, a new report warns.
Released a month ahead of the 27th United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP 27), Extreme Heat: Preparing for the heatwaves of the futuresays that, with climate change making heatwaves ever more dangerous, aggressive steps must be taken now to avert potentially recurrent heat disasters.
“As the climate crisis goes unchecked, extreme weather events, such as heatwaves and floods, are hitting the most vulnerable people the hardest,” says Martin Griffiths, United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator. “Nowhere is the impact more brutally felt than in countries already reeling from hunger, conflict and poverty.”
The report—the first to be published jointly by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC)—offers concrete steps that humanitarians and decision makers can take to mitigate extreme heat’s worst effects. 2022 has already seen communities across North Africa, Australia, Europe, South Asia and the Middle East suffocate under record-high temperatures. Most recently the Western United States and China have buckled under severe heat.
The report, notes that, in the coming decades, heatwaves are predicted to meet and exceed human physiological and social limits in regions such as the Sahel, the Horn of Africa and South and South-West Asia. Extreme heatwaves in these regions, where humanitarian needs are already high, would result in large-scale suffering and loss of life, population movements and further entrenched inequality, the report warns.
“The climate crisis is intensifying humanitarian emergencies all around the world. To avert its most devastating impacts, we must invest equally on adaptation and mitigation, particularly in the countries most at risk,” says Jagan Chapagain, Secretary General of the IFRC.
“At COP27, we will urge world leaders to ensure that this investment reaches local communities that are on the frontline of the climate crisis. If communities are prepared to anticipate climate risks and equipped to take action, we will prevent extreme weather events from becoming humanitarian disasters.”
Heatwaves prey on inequality, with the greatest impacts on isolated and marginalized people. The report stresses that the urgent priority must be large and sustained investments that mitigate climate change and support long-term adaptation for the most vulnerable people.
The report also finds that, although the impacts of extreme heat are global, some people are hit harder than others. Vulnerable communities, such as agricultural workers, are being pushed to the front lines while the elderly, children, and pregnant and breastfeeding women are at higher risk of illness and death.
The world’s lowest-income countries are already experiencing disproportionate increases in extreme heat. These countries are the least to blame for climate change, but they will see a significant increase in the number of at-risk people in the coming decades.
Building on a growing body of knowledge and good practice around early warning, anticipatory action and response systems to heatwaves, the report suggests the following five key steps to help the most vulnerable people:
Provide early information on heatwaves to help people and authorities take timely action.
Support preparedness and expand anticipatory action, especially by local actors, who are often the first responders in emergencies.
Find new and more sustainable ways of financing local action.
Adapt humanitarian response to accelerating extreme heat. Humanitarian organizations are already testing approaches such as more thermally appropriate emergency housing, ‘green roofs’, cooling centres and adjustments to school timetables, but this will require significant investments in research and learning.
Strengthen engagement across the humanitarian, development and climate spheres.
Addressing the impact of extreme heat in the long-term and helping communities, towns, cities and countries adapt to extreme heat risk will require sustained development planning.
The full report is available here.
Note to editors:
Videos and photos are available at this link and this linkfor use by the media.
For more information, please contact:
IFRC (Geneva): Jenelle Eli, +1-202-603-6803, [email protected]
OCHA (New York): Jaspreet Kindra, +1-929-273-8109, [email protected]
| Press release
Red Cross and Red Crescent leaders commit to accelerate efforts to tackle rising humanitarian challenges
Geneva, 23 June 2022 - The Council of delegates of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement concluded today in Geneva with commitments from Red Cross and Red Crescent leaders and youth representatives from around the world, to work together and scale-up efforts to take urgent action on a range of critical humanitarian issues.
Representatives of 192 National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) passed a series of resolutions to address a range of humanitarian challenges, including; the growing existential threats posed by the climate crisis; the escalating migration crisis; the devastating impacts of war in cities and the need to continue efforts to work towards the elimination of nuclear weapons.
"Urban warfare has a devastating humanitarian impact, including the appallingly high number of civilian deaths, the physical and mental suffering, the destruction of homes and critical civilian infrastructure, the disruption to essential services and the widespread displacement of people. We have seen that sad reality playing out in Libya, Syria, Ukraine and elsewhere. The Red Cross and Red Crescent must mobilise all its influence and resources to meet the challenges that lie ahead,’ said ICRC President Peter Maurer. ‘To be clear: the consequences of urban conflicts are not inevitable. They are the result of the behaviour of the parties fighting in these environments and we call for international humanitarian law to be upheld as an urgent priority’.
IFRC President Francesco Rocca said: “How we work to tackle and mitigate against the impacts of climate change will define our work, not just for the next few years, but for decades to come.
“All over the world, our volunteers and staff are working with people in their communities to help them adapt to the climate crisis and, frankly, they are demonstrating greater readiness, eagerness, and leadership than the majority of our global political leaders. We need action from them, not more words. And now.
“The same goes for the international migrant crisis. The Red Cross Red Crescent Movement speaks of leaving no person behind, of solidarity, and humanity. But, all over the world, we see world leaders failing to take the plight of migrants seriously enough and too easily prepared to neglect the human rights of those fleeing conflict, hunger, persecution, and, of course, those parts of the world where climate change has already done untold damage to their communities.”
Francesco Rocca, IFRC President, was re-elected to serve a second four-year term in office at the IFRC’s General Assembly on 19 June.
For more information on resolutions adopted at the Council of delegates is available here
For other information and interview requests, contact:
IFRC: Benoit Carpentier, Tel: +41 792 132 413 Email: [email protected] Paul Scott -+44 (0)7834 525650 email: [email protected]
ICRC ICRC: Ewan Watson - m. +41 (0)79 244 6470 email: [email protected] ICRC: Crystal Wells - m. +41 (0)79 642 8056 email: [email protected]
For further information about the statutory meetings please visit rcrcconference.org
Swiss Red Cross
| Press release
Red Cross urges public to check on neighbours as Europe braces for heatwave
Budapest/Geneva, 25 June 2019 – The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is calling on people to check on vulnerable neighbours, relatives and friends as Western Europe readies itself for possible record high temperatures.
According to European meteorological offices, Belgium, France, Germany, Spain, Hungary and Switzerland can expect temperatures in the mid to high-30s during the week, with temperatures potentially climbing to 40°C in Paris on Thursday (27 June).
IFRC’s Europe Region health coordinator Dr Davron Mukhamadiev said:
“The coming days will be challenging for a lot of people, but especially older people, young children, and people with underlying illnesses or limited mobility.
“Our message this week is simple: look after yourself, your family and your neighbours. A phone call or a knock on the door could save a life.”
Across Western Europe, Red Cross staff and volunteers are on high alert. In France, volunteers are patrolling the streets, providing water and hygiene kits and visiting isolated and older people in their homes.
“If necessary, the emergency operations centre at our headquarters can be opened to coordinate the response to this emergency,” said French Red Cross spokesperson Alain Rissetto.
In Spain, 50 staff in the Red Cross operations centre are currently calling vulnerable and older people to check they are safe and to give advice on how to cope with the heat. And in Belgium volunteers are distributing water and checking on older community members.
Climate change is projected to increase the frequency and intensity of heat extremes globally, underscoring the urgent need to manage heatwave risks effectively and to prevent avoidable strain being put on already stretched health care services. The risks are particularly high in cities, where the impacts can be most severe.
Heatwaves can have a catastrophic human toll. In 2003, for example, an estimated 70,000 people died during a record-breaking heatwave in Europe.
Next month, IFRC and the Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre will launch new guidelines designed to help cities better support their vulnerable residents during heatwaves.
| Press release
World Red Cross Red Crescent Day: Celebrating “14 million points of hope”
Geneva, 8 May 2019 – On World Red Cross and Red Crescent Day 2019, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is celebrating the nearly 14 million Red Cross and Red Crescent volunteers around the world who provide a lifeline to countless communities in need.In a statement sent to the volunteers, staff and leaders of the world’s 191 National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, IFRC President, Francesco Rocca, wrote:“I want to thank all our volunteers and staff who are working around the clock to reach people in need and to alleviate their suffering. You are the last mile of humanitarian aid everywhere in the world.“You are the proof that local actors are crucial to saving lives, to preparing communities, to working faster and better in every single crisis in the world.”This year’s World Red Cross and Red Crescent Day comes as volunteers around the world respond to a range of emergencies and crises. For example, volunteers in Mozambique are assisting thousands of families affected by Cyclone Idai and, more recently, by Cyclone Kenneth.In Venezuela, Red Cross volunteers are supporting communities, hospitals and health clinics across the country, providing needed medicines, medical supplies, equipment and care. In Afghanistan, Red Crescent volunteers are scaling up support to people who, in a matter of months, have suffered droughts and then floods.World Red Cross and Red Crescent Day is held on 8 May – the birthday of the founder of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, Henry Dunant. Each year, National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies use the day to highlight the unique role of the Red Cross and Red Crescent in their countries.This year, IFRC has launched a global digital campaign to celebrate World Red and Cross Red Crescent Day. Hundreds of submissions that reflect the diversity and the power of the IFRC network have been received so far from volunteers and staff in Kiribati, Yemen, Venezuela, Mali, Lithuania, and dozens of other countries. These contributions will be showcased across 8 May via an unprecedented Twitter marathon.This year’s celebration also coincides with the centenary of the founding of IFRC on 5 May 1919 by the American, British, French, Italian and Japanese Red Cross Societies.