The Empress Shôken Fund (ESF) is named after Her Majesty Empress Shôken of Japan who – at the 9th International Conference of the Red Cross – proposed the creation of an international fund to promote relief work in peacetime.
The fund is administered by the Joint Commission of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), which maintains close contact with the Permanent Mission of Japan in Geneva, the Japanese Red Cross Society and the Meiji Jingu Intercultural Research Institute in Japan.
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 evidenced by the regularity of their contributions to it.
The Fund has a total value of more than 14 million Swiss francs and supports projects run by National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies that benefit the communities they serve in many different ways. The first grant was awarded in 1921 to help five European National Societies fight the spread of tuberculosis. Since then, more than15 million Swiss francs have been allocated to 171 National Societies. The grants are announced every year on 11April, the anniversary of the death of Her Majesty Empress Shôken.
Increasingly, the Fund encourages new and innovative approaches with the potential to generate insights that will benefit our International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement.
2023 selection process
The Fund received 51 applications in 2022 for the 102nd distribution of income, covering a diverse range of humanitarian projects run by National Societies globally. The applications submitted featured more innovative proposals than in previous years, further confirming the need for the ESF to support innovation and experimentation within National Societies.
This year the Joint Commission agreed to allocate a total of 367,187 Swiss francs to 13 projects in Albania, Belgium, Burundi, Eswatini, Fiji, Guinea, Honduras, Indonesia, Paraguay, Sudan, Syria, Thailand and Uruguay. The world’s current crises have impacted the performance of the fund, and ESF Joint Commission members have adjusted the process accordingly.
This year the projects selected cover a variety of topics, including first aid and rescue, youth, disaster preparedness, health, and National Society development (NSD).
The 2023 grants by theme
The Fund continues to encourage new and innovative approaches, and this is clearly reflected in the selection of proposals to receive funding. Some National Societies are incubating and testing their innovative solutions and experimenting with a host of ideas and approaches. With their pilot methodology, they could potentially scale up and implement their initiatives with the support of other funding sources.In this category, the selected grantees are as follows:
The Honduran Red Cross has taken an innovative approach to volunteer empowerment and engagement. The goal of its project is to establish a fund that supports innovative micro-projects developed and led by local volunteers. This will help forge stronger links between the National Society and the communities it serves. It has designed a pilot with 12 micro-projects, responding to an identified need to grow activity at the branch level.
The Uruguayan Red Cross is focusing efforts on improving mental health resilience among young people by providing training in schools, creating psychosocial support mechanisms and forming youth brigades. There is a growing need for youth mental health support, and this pilot in two schools will give the team an opportunity to learn and adapt their approach.
The Indonesian Red Cross Society will pilot a community-based approach to environmental awareness and food security. A renovated community learning centre will be used to launch the pilot, which will engage over 100 stay-at-home spouses and 30 children. The project aims to tackle emerging issues, such as climate change, while building stronger community connections.
Many National Societies have prioritized innovative solutions to combat the challenges of climate change. In this category, the selected beneficiaries, in addition to the Indonesian Red Cross Society, are as follows.
Flooding is one of the most devastating natural hazards. The Belgian Red Cross will engage and empower young people impacted by floods to express and share their feelings on climate change through digital story telling. Simple to replicate and scalable, this initiative has the potential to give us tremendous insight and allow for powerful messages to be shared.
As a means of addressing the challenges of climate change, the Burundi Red Cross will engage in implementing activities such as tree planting and promoting improved city waste management. The project is a youth volunteer-led initiative that will reduce youth unemployment. This comprehensive approach will result in significant learning opportunities.
The Paraguayan Red Cross will develop a mobile app that will serve as an early warning system and educate communities on how they can respond to flooding in seven community districts. This solution is scalable, innovative and a sustainable approach to addressing community needs.
Finally, the last group of beneficiaries will use their grants to address issues related to disaster preparedness, health and youth. In this category, the selected grantees are as follows.
The Baphalali Eswatini Red Cross Society will improve data management processes for effective decision-making during emergencies in Eswatini by 2025. The main idea is to integrate and mainstream a mobile phone app dashboard into the existing National Society information management system and increase community participation (affected communities) in information sharing and management.
Thailand is prone to natural hazards, which often cause devastating damage and loss of lives. Therefore, the Thai Red Cross Society aims to improve disaster readiness, mainly for earthquakes, by training children and young people using virtual reality simulation.
The Sudanese Red Crescent will use the funds to support flood-affected women, providing them with cash, grants and livelihood tools to allow them to start their own business. The aim is to build resilience and longer-term recovery contexts for current and future crises by empowering the most vulnerable in a self-sustaining way.
The Red Cross Society of Guinea will focus on developing a mobile health app to comprehensively improve the quality of basic emergency obstetric and neonatal care, especially for complex deliveries, with a view to reducing maternal and newborn mortality.
According to figures on human trafficking, Albania is a primary source country and the non-EU European country with the second highest number of victims. To address this threat, the Albanian Red Cross will use the grant to train staff and volunteers, with a view to activating peer-to-peer prevention in high schools. The National Society will reach out to other sister National Societies to build a strong network of certified trainers who will raise awareness through peer-to-peer activities.
The Fiji Red Cross Society aims to overhaul its current volunteer programme, using the grant to implement end-to-end digitization to enhance the onboarding experience and increase the quality and cost-effectiveness of volunteer management. The idea is to also include community-level training that will generate meaningful learning and be easily replicable elsewhere.
At present, the Syrian Arab Red Crescent has more than 18,000 staff and volunteers across its local branches who support it in carrying out its humanitarian mission. With a view to scaling up branch development by complementing other initiatives, the National Society will use the grant to digitize its policies for online courses that can be freely accessed at any time, making training more convenient for its network of staff and volunteers.
ESF and learning
The Fund constantly strives to generate insights from the projects implemented for the benefit of the whole Movement and to diversify its learning materials. Later this year, the Fund will join with the stakeholders of the other NSD funding mechanisms, namely the Capacity Building Fund (CBF) and the National Society Investment Alliance (NSIA),for a learning event, with the aim of sharing lessons learned and experiences from grantees across the different funds.
It is important to recognize the diversity of National Societies within the network and the wide range of NSD support that is needed. The ESF and the other funding mechanisms (which focus more on NSD) operate in a complementary way, and togethertheyhave the capacity to meet this array of NSD and learning needs and support a broader transformation in our network.
Jakarta / Kuala Lumpur, 22 November 2022: Thousands of families in the west of the island Java were left reeling as a 5.6 magnitude earthquake hit the area on the afternoon on Monday, 21 November. Thousands of houses, schools, infrastructure, roads and more have been severely damaged as some are seen in a state of rubble.
The National Agency for Disaster Countermeasure in Indonesia officially reports more than 103 casualties and more than 320 people injured. The numbers are still emerging as the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), and Indonesian Red Cross (Palang Merah) are working with authorities to urgently assess ground situation and gather more information.
The Secretary General of Indonesian Red Cross, Sudirman Said, said:
“We are devastated to hear about the lives that have been lost by the earthquake. Indonesian Red Cross relief and emergency teams have been deployed to help with evacuations, providing first aid, distribute clean water, establish emergency kitchens and emergency relief, focusing on most affected areas. We also mobilised 5 units of ambulance, medical personnel and volunteers to help with urgent evacuation and ground assessment.
“We are doing all we can to ensure no more lives are lost. We are ensuring that our volunteers and personnel do all they can to help people seek safety and comfort at our emergency shelters where critical relief can be found. We would also urge people to stay calm and to contact authorities for help.”
The earthquake hit the district of Cianjur where the livelihoods of the people thrive around small and medium enterprises revolving around local wear and products. While the earthquake did not trigger tsunami warnings, the people of West Java are no stranger to earthquakes and are doing all they can to stay vigilant for aftershocks and dangerous falling debris.
Over 13,700 people have been reported displaced while thousands more have lost their homes and are scattered in various emergency shelters.
IFRC Head of Delegation, Indonesia, Elkhan Rahimov, said:
“We are alongside Indonesian Red Cross to closely assess ground situation and determine the immediate needs of the affected community. Volunteers at the frontline are also prioritizing the safety and wellbeing of themselves as they work around the clock to help people get to safety.
“Our first main priority is to serve the affected community by meeting their immediate needs like access to drinking water, shelter and administering first aid. We are focusing our efforts on these while we plan our next phase of longer-term assistance.”
Red Cross personnel continue to respond as landslides, electricity and telecommunications cut off are reported.
For more information or to arrange an interview, contact:
In Kuala Lumpur:
Rachel Punitha, +60 19 791 3830,
Annisa Marezqa, +62 812-8103-9155,
Awan Diga Aristo, +62 813-2063-5505,
The National Society Investment Alliance (NSIA) is a pooled funding mechanism, run jointly by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).
It provides flexible, multi-year funding to support the long-term development of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies—particularly those in complex emergencies and protracted crisis—so they can increase the reach and impact of their humanitarian services.
The NSIA can award up to one million CHF of accelerator funding to any one National Society over a five-year period. In addition, bridge grants of up to 50,000 CHF over 12 months can help National Societies prepare the ground for future investment from the NSIA or from elsewhere.
This year, the NSIA is pleased to announce that the following six National Societies have been selected for accelerator funding in 2022:
Burundi Red Cross
Kenya Red Cross Society
Malawi Red Cross Society
Russian Red Cross Society
Syrian Arab Red Crescent
Zambia Red Cross Society
These National Societies will receive a significant investment of up to one million CHF, to be used over a maximum of five years, to help accelerate their journey towards long-term sustainability. Three of these National Societies (Syria, Malawi and Zambia) previously received NSIA bridge awards, proving once again the relevance of the fund’s phased approach towards sustainable development.
In addition, 14 other National Societies will receive up to 50,000 CHF in bridge funding: Benin, Democratic Republic of Congo, Guinea, Indonesia, Iraq, Jordan, Liberia, Libya, Mali, Nicaragua, Palestine, Panama, Rwanda, Sierra Leone.
In total, the NSIA will allocate 5.4 million CHF to 20 different National Societies this year. This is more than double the funds allocated in 2021 and represents the largest annual allocation since the NSIA’s launch in 2019.
This landmark allocation is made possible thanks to the generous support from the governments of Switzerland, the United States, Canada and Norway, and from the Norwegian and Netherlands’ National Societies. Both the ICRC and IFRC have also strongly reinforced their commitment, by allocating 10 million CHF and 2 million CHF respectively over the coming years.
The Co-chairs of the NSIA Steering Committee, Xavier Castellanos, IFRC Under-Secretary General for National Society Development and Operations Coordination, and Olivier Ray, ICRC Director for Mobilization, Movement and Partnership, said:
“We are pleased to have been able to select 20 National Societies’ initiatives for funding by the NSIA in 2022. Our vision and plans are becoming a reality. We see Red Cross and Red Crescent National Societies operating in fragile contexts accessing funds for sustainably developing to deliver and scale up their humanitarian services. This is localization in action and at scale.
It is particularly encouraging to see that the NSIA’s two-stage approach, with initial funds providing a springboard to help National Societies prepare for increased investment aimed at achieving sustained impact on the organization and vulnerable communities, is working. We hope to see many more National Societies planning and following this journey.
2022 will be remembered as a milestone for the NSIA. Our ambition is to maintain this momentum and continue to grow in the years to come. We see this mechanism as a valuable and strategic lever to support National Societies in fragile and crisis settings to undertake their journey towards sustainable development.”
For more information, please click here to visit the NSIA webpage.
Kuala Lumpur/Jakarta, 6 December 2021 – Rescuing survivors, providing medical care and helping people whose homes have been buried by ash and debris are critical priorities after Mount Semeru volcano eruptions in East Java, Indonesia.
Indonesian Red Cross volunteers and emergency teams have been providing medical care and relief, including tarpaulins for shelter and drinking water supplies.
Sudirman Said, Indonesian Red Cross Secretary General said:
“It is vital that we continue to search quickly for more survivors from this tragic volcano eruption and provide survivors with medical care and relief as many have lost their homes, buried in the ash and mudflows.
“We are rushing more rescue vehicles, medical teams, water trucks and relief to the area, including food and shelter supplies to help in the coming days and weeks.”
More than 100 volunteers are helping hundreds of families displaced by the Mount Semeru volcano eruption, with tarpaulins for shelters, clean water supplies, blankets, ready to eat meals and hygiene kits.
The Indonesian Red Cross has despatched 20 ambulances and emergency teams have set up field kitchens to provide food for people displaced from their homes. More than 65,000 surgical masks have been sent to help reduce the dangers of ash and dust, while also keeping people safe from COVID-19. Two water trucks have been sent to provide drinking water.
While providing emergency support, the Indonesian Red Cross teams are also conducting assessments of the needs for longer terms recovery operations.
Jan Gelfand, Head of Indonesia Delegation, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies said:
“These eruptions are devastating for hundreds of families who have lost loved ones or homes. Many have been injured and it’s critical that first aid and medical care is provided to survivors.
“Indonesian Red Cross is urgently sending more teams to the area to provide relief including tarpaulins for shelter, food and drinking water for people who have lost everything in homes buried under piles of ash, mud and debris.”
For further information or to organise an interview:
Hamzah Ramadhan, +62 811 1161 193,[email protected]
In Kuala Lumpur:
Antony Balmain, +60 12 230 8451,[email protected]
Kuala Lumpur/Geneva, 18 August 2021:Southeast Asia is battling the world’s highest COVID-19 death toll driven by the Delta variant and unequal global distribution of vaccines.
Hospitals remain overwhelmed by record surges across Southeast Asia, from Vietnam to Malaysia and Myanmar as fears mount of greater suffering and loss of life with COVID-19 spreading from cities to rural and regional areas.
In the last two weeks, Southeast Asia has recorded38,522 deaths from COVID-19, nearly twice as many as North America, according to theJohn Hopkins UniversityCOVID-19 data dashboard.
Alexander Matheou, Asia Pacific Director, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, said:
“This COVID-19 surge driven by the Delta variant is claiming a tragic toll on families across Southeast Asia and it’s far from over. We fear that as the virus spreads from cities to regional and rural areas that many more lives will be lost among the unvaccinated.
“Vaccinations are at record rates in some countries, yet many Southeast Asian nations have low portions of the population fully vaccinated and are languishing far behind Western Europe and North America.”
The United Kingdom has fully vaccinated 60 per cent of its population, while Canada and Spain stand at around 64 per cent, according to Oxford University’sOur World in Data.
By contrast, Malaysia has fully vaccinated 34 per cent of its population against COVID-19, Indonesia and Philippines, close to 11 per cent and Vietnam less than 2 per cent.
Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia and most Southeast Asia countries are all battling record COVID-19 infections or death tolls.
Seven of the top 10 countries where COVID-19 deaths have doubled the fastest are in Asia and the Pacific, with Vietnam, Fiji and Myanmar all in the top five, according toOur World in Data.
“In the short-term, we need much greater efforts by richer countries to urgently share their millions of excess vaccine doses with countries in Southeast Asia. We also need vaccine companies and governments to share technology and scale up production,”Mr Matheou said.
“These coming weeks are critical for scaling up treatment, testing and vaccinations, in every corner of all countries in Southeast Asia. We must aim for mass vaccination rates of 70-80 per cent if we want to win the race against the variants and overcome this global pandemic.”
Until vaccination levels reach a critical mass, in the short-term it is also crucial to reinforce health protection measures, such as wearing a mask, physical distance and meeting outdoors or in well ventilated spaces.
The IFRC is seeking vital funding for its global emergency COVID-19 appeal, with around 60% of the appeal covered so far. The funds are crucial to support the lifesaving actions of the IFRC and member Red Cross and Red Crescent National Societies around the world.
Photos of Red Cross and Red Crescent activities are available for download
Kuala Lumpur/Jakarta/Geneva, 13 July 2021:A deadly wave of COVID-19 fuelled by the Delta variant is crashing into South East Asia as the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies warns of a widening global vaccine divide.
Countries across South East Asia from Indonesia to Thailand, Malaysia and Myanmar are facing hospitals full and overwhelmed while many race to roll out vaccines.
Around 10,000 COVID-19 infections are being recorded in Thailand a day, more than four times a month ago, while deaths have also reached record highs. Infections in Viet Nam have surged past 2,000 a day, close to 10 times more than in early June.
Richer countries such as the United Kingdom have fully vaccinated more than half their populations. Viet Nam has fully vaccinated less than 1 per cent, Thailand around 5 per cent and Indonesia 5.5 per cent, according toOxford University’s COVID-19 Our World in Data.
Alexander Matheou Asia Pacific Director, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) said:
“Millions of people in Asia are living on the cruel and sharp edge of a global vaccine divide between richer countries that have a steady supply and most nations in Asia that are struggling to access sufficient doses to keep their populations safe.
“There is mounting evidence that COVID-19 vaccinations are already saving tens of thousands of lives around the world.”
Across Asia, thousands of Red Cross and Red Crescent volunteers are racing to vaccinate people alongside health authorities, yet vaccinations are struggling to keep pace with the variants and the spread of the virus.
“It is encouraging that a number of richer countries have made generous pledges and donations of vaccines to countries in Asia in recent weeks,” said Mr Matheou.
“We need to speed up the delivery of these lifesaving doses so that we can get them in to people’s arms, giving us a genuine shot at containing this pandemic once and for all.”
The IFRC is seeking vital funding for its global emergency COVID-19 appeal, with around 60 per cent of the appeal covered so far. The funds are crucial to support the lifesaving actions of the IFRC and member Red Cross and Red Crescent National Societies around the world.
Kuala Lumpur/Jakarta/Dili, 13 April 2021 –Urgent measures are needed to prevent COVID-19 outbreaks, while providing relief to thousands of people hit by record floods and mudslides that have claimed more than 200 lives, according to authorities in eastern Indonesia and Timor Leste.
Timor Leste is in the grip of a new wave of COVID-19 infections after a year of keeping the virus under control. The official number of cases has surged ten-fold from just over 100 to almost 1,000 in the past month, threatening the country’s fragile health system.
More than 33,000 people have been directly affected by floods and landslides described by authorities as the worst to hit Timor Leste and parts of eastern Indonesia in more than 40 years.
President of Timor-Leste Red Cross, Madalena da Costa Hanjan Soares, said:
“It’s heartbreaking to see people making a choice between having a safe shelter, adequate food and water, or trying to avoid the spread of this deadly COVID-19 virus.
“Our Timor Leste Red Cross volunteers have been specially trained and they’re doing everything possible to prevent COVID-19 from spreading. This is a race against time. The longer people have to stay in these temporary shelters, the higher the risk of a mass outbreak.”
Red Cross rescue teams in Timor Leste and Indonesia have been searching for survivors, evacuating people to safety, and distributing relief including food, blankets, tarpaulins, clothing and hygiene supplies. Efforts have been ramped up to provide safe water for drinking and hygiene, to help prevent disease outbreaks.
Indonesia is the second-worst affected country in Asia, with more than 1.5 million cases of COVID-19 recorded and more than 4,000 new infections a day.
The Secretary General of Indonesian Red Cross, Sudirman Said, said:
“The loss of life has been tragic and comes as a brutal blow to families already exhausted and overwhelmed by this COVID-19 pandemic. Our teams are working all hours to search for survivors, providing critical food, water and other relief while keeping people safe.”
Jan Gelfand, Head of the Indonesia and Timor Leste Delegation, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), said:
“COVID-19 is stretching the health systems in Indonesia and Timor Leste to breaking point. Further COVID-19 outbreaks or other deadly diseases, such as cholera, dysentery and dengue fever, could push them over the edge.
“In many parts of the world, clean water, soap and face masks may seem like small things but if COVID-19 has taught us anything, it’s that they save many lives. Every effort must be made to race these essentials to people so they can be protected after surviving these deadly floods.”
Kuala Lumpur/Jakarta/Geneva, 18 January 2021 – More Indonesian Red Cross ambulance and medical crews have arrived to treat people injured following the destructive earthquake that hit West Sulawesi, Indonesia.
Critical relief has been arriving in affected areas, including tarpaulins and other shelter supplies, along with food and safe water as thousands of people remain displaced, fearful of more dangerous quakes.
Since a devastating earthquake struck last Friday (15 January), Red Cross search and rescue teams have been working around the clock alongside government emergency agencies to locate and help trapped survivors escape, with many buried deep in the rubble.
Indonesian Red Cross Secretary General, Sudirman Said, said:
“We have another seven ambulances and first-aid and medical teams treating people who have been injured in this terrible earthquake, boosting the local hospitals and Red Cross crews that were already stretched to the limit responding to the worsening COVID-19 pandemic.
“Our specialist teams and volunteers have been buoyed by the rescues of people stuck in the rubble, but their work is also heartbreaking as they have been recovering bodies non-stop over the past three days.”
More than 19,000 people remain displaced as a result of the earthquake and aftershocks. The Indonesian Red Cross is providing tarpaulins and other sleeping equipment, including kits for families and babes. Red Cross teams on 10 water-tanker trucks are providing safe water to people who have fled their damaged homes.
Head of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) Indonesia Country Office, Jan Gelfand, said:
"Each minute has been critical in the race against time to rescue people trapped deep underneath collapsed buildings. The remarkable work rescuing people and treating hundreds of wounded people is taking place amid dozens of smaller earthquakes and scary aftershocks.
“The physical impact of this earthquake is terrifying, but we must not underestimate the debilitating psychological effect this disaster is having on tens of thousands of people who fled their homes as they are living with the constant threat of another big quake.”
The IFRC has released 460,000 Swiss Francs from its Disaster Relief Emergency Fund to provide emergency assistance to 20,000 people who have been directly impacted by the earthquake. The support provided by the Indonesian Red Cross will include efforts to meet immediate shelter, health care, and water and sanitation needs, as well as actions designed to protect women, children and the most vulnerable, all the while helping survivors to stay safe from COVID-19.
Kuala Lumpur/Jakarta/Geneva, 15 January 2021 – Indonesian Red Cross rescue teams are searching for survivors in the rubble and providing first aid following a devastating earthquake in Sulawesi, Indonesia.
Red Cross specialist ambulance crews and first aid teams are treating people injured in the earthquake. Over 630 have been injured, dozens killed and more than 15,000 displaced according to the Indonesian Disaster Mitigation Agency.
Indonesian Red Cross Secretary General, Sudirman Said, said:
“This is a most tragic earthquake and our specialist teams have been working through the night to help people amid the rubble. Our first priority is to search for survivors and tend to the wounded.
“These hours are critical for saving lives. We are working double time to help injured survivors, keep them safe from COVID-19 and provide relief to the thousands who have been displaced from their homes.”
The Indonesian Red Cross is rushing more critical medical and relief supplies by plane and land to the earthquake-affected areas. Ambulance crews have been sent along with another 92 volunteers, clean water tankers and production units, tarpaulins for shelter, face masks plus 200 family relief kits to help survivors.
Head of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) Indonesia Country Office, Jan Gelfand, said:
"It breaks my heart to see the carnage caused by this tragic earthquake, which has flattened a hospital and hundreds of homes.
“This earthquake is a brutal blow for the people of Sulawesi in the middle of a deadly COVID-19 pandemic. It is a matter of life and death to help survivors stay safe from this disease.”
The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) Disaster Law Programme works across the diverse and vast region that is Asia, from Afghanistan to Japan, Mongolia to Timor Leste, providing disaster law technical support, capacity building, peer learning and research in 21 countries for more than 15 years.
In Asia, the Disaster Law Programme focuses on countries with particularly high disaster risk and those who are actively developing or reviewing their disaster risk management legalisation. We have worked across Southeast Asia - Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar and the Philippines. We have worked extensively in Nepal following the 2015 earthquake, Mongolia, and recently in China, where a research report, International Disaster Response Law in China, has been under consideration by the Ministry of Emergency Management.
Given the differences and diversity of the region, the Disaster Law Programme’s approach in Asia is not ‘one size fits all’. This tailored approach applies to who the programme works with, adapting to work in partnership with governments, national disaster management offices, Red Cross Red Crescent Societies and with regional bodies like ASEAN.
The tailored approach also reflects the growing scope of the Disaster Law Programme and the needs of the countries– from response-based to underpinning all aspects of disaster risk management – risk reduction, preparedness for response and recovery, integration into resilience and also working to ensure community engagement in the disaster law process.
In Mongolia, IFRC and Mongolia Red Cross have worked with the Government to revise disaster protection law through a contemporary approach to disaster management, moving the country from a reactive response paradigm to one which is proactive and works to prevent and reduce the risk of disasters on people, livestock and the environment. Mongolia is now putting concerted efforts into ensuring these new frameworks are implemented and well understood, particularly at the community level through a national awareness campaign with support from Red Cross.
A common and important theme to our approach and outcome of the work in Asia is a shift to a more localised way of working, with disaster law processes and systems grounded in strong and nationally owned governance frameworks, and regional mechanisms. With countries like the Philippines, Indonesia and Japan who have immense experience responding to frequent and intense disasters and emergencies, huge knowledge and expertise already exist in within the region.
Effecting law and policy change requires a long-term investment and partnership. Having worked in the region for more than 15 years, we are now working with countries who are already in a position to review disaster management laws for a second time, following the learnings over time from large scale disasters and wanting to ensure that their governance frameworks are more responsive to current and emerging challenges like displacement, climate change and health hazards.
Fifteen years on from our early work in Asia after the huge tsunami to hit the region in 2004, we are again working regionally as we respond to the COVID-19 pandemic alongside National Societies, governments and communities to ensure all emergency preparedness and response efforts - whether it be for natural hazards, climate induced, or public health emergencies is underpinned by clear laws and regulations.
Palu/Jakarta/Kuala Lumpur, 28 September 2020 – Two years after an earthquake and tsunami struck communities in Central Sulawesi, Indonesia, thousands of survivors face a severe socio-economic crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The September 28 earthquake triggered a three-meter high tsunami and soil liquefaction that left more than 4,100 people dead and some 110,000 houses damaged or destroyed. Indonesian Red Cross Society volunteers from the affected areas were the first to respond, and staff and volunteers from all over Indonesia have been involved in the two-year relief and recovery effort.
This massive operation involving government and multiple agencies has also faced challenges. While many displaced people have alternative accommodation, they are often living with relatives due to widespread destruction of residential areas, the huge scale of people displaced, and most recently COVID-19.
Limited employment opportunities in the area due to damage caused to local industry have been compounded by social restrictions across Indonesia. The Regional Development Planning Agency reports that the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has been worse for the local economy than the disaster two years ago.
Secretary General of Indonesian Red Cross (PMI), Sudirman Said, explained:
“Over the last two years, Indonesian Red Cross has been delivering emergency and recovery programs to people in Sulawesi, adjusting in the past six months to protect people from COVID-19 while expanding scope to support those affected by the disasters and who are facing even more hardships due to the pandemic.”
“Throughout the province, hundreds of COVID-19 cases have been reported placing families in jeopardy due to cramped living conditions and crowded homes. We are adapting to these new needs and challenges.”
International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) supported Indonesian Red Cross assistance for affected communities has included emergency healthcare for 17,600 people; close to 22 million liters of water has been distributed to over 70,000 people; health promotion activities and psychosocial support have helped to keep 14,000 people safe and well. In the recovery phase, PMI and IFRC are on pace to provide cash assistance to more than 10,000 families (40,000 people) amounting to around CHF 4 million in direct cash transfers.
Jan Gelfand, IFRC Head of Country Cluster Support Team for Indonesia and Timor-Leste, said:
“After Tsunami Aceh & Nias, this has been the biggest Indonesian Red Cross relief and recovery operations and local teams have achieved a tremendous amount in some of the most challenging circumstances to help communities recover from this triple disaster over the past two years.”
IFRC is the world’s largest humanitarian network, comprising 192 National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies working to save lives and promote dignity around the world.
Kuala Lumpur/Geneva, 17 September 2020 – A major new survey in four Asian countries reveals nearly one in two people blame specific groups for spreading COVID-19.
The survey shows that people are blaming particular groups for spreading the coronavirus including foreigners, people attending religious ceremonies and people who are not following rules such as wearing masks or maintaining physical distance.
The snapshot of people’s attitudes in Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar and Pakistan also reveals nearly four out of five people distrust social media, despite it being one of the leading sources of information about the virus.
The survey of 4,993 people was initiated by the Asia Pacific Risk Communication and Community Engagement Working Group to find out what people know about the virus and how it spreads, in order to enable stronger community-based response.
Dr Viviane Fluck, Community Engagement and Accountability Coordinator,International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Asia Pacific,said:“It is alarming that our findings show that almost half of people surveyed believe specific groups are at fault for the spread of COVID-19.”
“We are very concerned that vulnerable groups such as migrants and those who cannot afford protective equipment such as masks may be discriminated against due to stigma and fear rising from these views.
“Many countries in Asia are experiencing triple crises of COVID-19, natural hazard related disasters and socio-economic upheavals. It’s critical that we step upengagement with communities to address harmful misinformation that hinders efforts to contain this pandemic,”Dr Fluck said.
Key data fromthe COVID-19 Community Insights from the Asia Pacific Region Report:
Nearly one in two (49%) think a specific group is responsible for the spread of COVID-19
More than two out of three (69%) Malaysians blame others such as people not wearing masks and those attending religious gatherings.
Over half of Indonesians (55%) and close to one third of people in Myanmar (32%) and Pakistan (30%) apportion blame to groups such as foreigners and rule-breakers.
Almost four in five people (79%) in Malaysia think the disease is not dangerous while four out of five people (80%) in Indonesia think it is very dangerous.
Close to nine out of 10 people (87%) across the four countries believe that wearing a mask and handwashing (91%) are ways to protect yourself and family.
Traditional healers remain a source of information is some countries, with nearly one in six (16%) people at least sometimes turning to them for information.
When asked about information channels, most respondents placed a great deal of trust in television (62%), followed by radio (44%) and newspapers (40%). Only 1 in 5 (22%) people placed a great deal of trust in social media.
The full report, titled COVID-19 Community Insights from the Asia Pacific Region, can bedownloaded here.
The Asia Pacific Risk Communication and Community Engagement Working Group is an inter-agency coordination platform that provides technical advice to COVID-19 preparedness and response across the region. The survey was conducted by local National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies in Pakistan, Malaysia and Indonesia as well as Kantar in Myanmar in partnership with United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and with the support of the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), UNICEF, the World Health Organization (WHO), and the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).
The COVID-19 Community Insights from the Asia Pacific Region Report data:
In total, 4,993 respondents participated in Indonesia, Pakistan, Myanmar, and Malaysia. A mixed-method approach for data collection was used, collecting data through phone calls, social media, and some limited face-to-face interactions, where appropriate protective measures were taken.Interviews were conducted from29 May to 20 July 2020 with a two-week collection time frame in each country
Sampling:A random sampling approach was used with the assumptions of a higher number of participants with less margin of error. Convenience sampling was the only possible option due to movement restrictions. These findings cannot be considered to be statistically representative of the perceptions of the population but provide an indication that should be triangulated with further research.
Dili, Timor-Leste, August 17, 2020 – Timor-Leste Red Cross (CVTL) is urgently ramping up COVID-19 prevention in remote areas bordering Indonesia as the country’s containment success is threatened after its first new case has been reported in more than three months.
While Indonesia has recorded more than 125,000 cases, recently rising by over 2000 each day, Timor-Leste has achieved remarkable success, recording only 24 cases in the country in total and remaining COVID free since late April.
Late last week an Indonesian national tested positive to the virus after entering Timor-Leste via a land border with Indonesia. Timor-Leste’s government responded quickly, declaring a new state of emergency, tightening border restrictions, and reinstating stricter health protocols and bans on gatherings.
Red Cross has further intensified its prevention campaign in the border regions, regarded as the “red zone”, for the transmission of COVID-19. Since the outset of the pandemic, Timor-Leste Red Cross has prioritized this area and its 35 villages and 140 hamlets due to the porous border that allows people to move illegally between the neighboring countries.
Secretary General of Timor-Leste Red Cross, Anacleto Bento Ferreira, said:
“Timor-Leste Red Cross volunteers are reaching out to communities with important hygiene information and awareness raising activities to contain the virus. In disease outbreaks, engaging with and providing timely information to the most exposed communities is the best way to help people protect themselves.”
“Known and trusted in the area, our volunteers are best equipped to reach these remote villages and hamlets, going door to door or sharing information at strategic places like markets and village centres. Where possible, we amplify this through radio messages and social media.”
In addition to the educational campaign, Red Cross has worked with the Ministry of Health to establish quarantine tents in the capital Dili and the border stations between Indonesia and Timor-Leste.
With hygiene a priority, Red Cross has also established more than 80 hand washing facilities in key areas such as government offices, schools and churches and is now working urgently to establish another 80 in border areas.
Jan Gelfand, Head of IFRC’s Country Cluster Support Team for Indonesia and Timor-Leste, said:
“Timor-Leste is one of the few countries in the world that succeeded in containing COVID-19, responding quickly and effectively in dealing with the pandemic at the outset. With the detection of a new case it is important that every effort is made to contain the transmission of COVID-19.”
“Given that Timor-Leste is a relatively new country, COVID-19 has the potential to place a great deal of pressure on the country’s fragile health care system particularly in remote areas. With its reach down to the village level, CVTL has an important role to play in this effort.”
IFRC is the world’s largest humanitarian network, comprising 192 National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies working to save lives and promote dignity around the world.
Jakarta/Kuala Lumpur, 24 July 2020 – Indonesian Red Cross is calling on Indonesians to continue practising physical distancing and to exercise greater caution to prevent COVID-19 infections from spiralling out of control as the country adapts to a `new normal’.
COVID-19 cases continue to climb rapidly in Indonesia, with more than 1000 new cases being diagnosed every day over the past three weeks, with a record high of over 2,600 people infected by coronavirus. The country is the hardest hit in South East Asia, with more than 91,751 cases and at least 4,459 deaths, according to the John Hopkins University COVID-19 database.
In response to this surge in cases, Red Cross is actively sending stronger public messaging through awareness campaigns, to contain the spread of the virus, especially as restrictions start to ease in much of the country. In what has been called the “new normal”, offices, schools, places of worship, malls, markets, and tourist attractions are reopening in some regions as four months of large-scale social restrictions are lifted.
Indonesian Red Cross Secretary General Sudirman Said: “Transmissions will continue to rise unless communities adapt their daily lives by applying strict health protocols during this new normal phase.”
“We are intensifying our efforts to educate the public about the importance of changing their behaviour for good by physical distancing, wearing masks and practising good hygiene. We are mobilizing our thousands of brave volunteers to work directly and safely with communities while reaching out on social media and across radio airwaves and loudspeakers.
“These times are tough, but people are staying strong. The challenge is to effectively reach all our diverse communities living on 6,000 inhabited islands. This calls for a unified, unprecedented, large scale effort to reach all parts of society, in every corner of our country.”
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Indonesian Red Cross is mobilising around 7,000 volunteers to provide important health services to 1.5 million people. Volunteers have also carried out health promotion activities for more than five million people focusing on eight priority provinces which have the highest COVID-19 cases in the country, which is the fourth most populous in the world.
This effort has been backed by the International Federation of Red Cross (IFRC), which launched a global appeal to provide support to the world’s most at risk countries, including Indonesia.
Jan Gelfand,Head ofIndonesia Country Office,InternationalFederation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Society said: “This global pandemic presents an unprecedented challenge, requiring global cooperation but a local response. As cases rise in Indonesia, Red Cross is doubling its efforts, using all available resources to slow the spread of this virus. Red Cross recognises that individuals and communities have a critical role to play, by changing their behaviour, they can help to control COVID in this new normal.”
Volunteers and staff from Palang Merah Indonesia are continuing to support flood-affected communities as the country braces for further heavy rains and storms forecast in the coming days and weeks.
Flash floods, flooding and landslides have killed 67 people and injured a further 110 since the crisis began on 28 December. Since then, more than 100,700 people have been displaced from their homes and communities in 255 sites across North Sumatra, West Java, Bengkulu and Jakarta. At the height of the crisis, some 300,000 people were displaced in the greater Jakarta metropolitan area alone.
Palang Merah Indonesia has deployed 455 volunteers and staff, 15 ambulances, 13 water tankers, 12 rubber boats and nine trucks in support of the affected communities, and has provided more than 90,000 food packages in the Central Jakarta and West Java areas.
The teams are responding on several fronts: helping people to evacuate and supporting them in centres; helping people to return home when it is safe to do so; providing first aid, health services and emotional support; and distributing clean water and running public kitchens. Volunteers and staff are also helping people clean the mud and debris left behind and spraying disinfectant to reduce the risk of diseases such as dengue and leptospirosis.
The heavy rains that caused the disaster were the most intense since records began in 1966, with Indonesia’s Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency measuring 377 mm of rainfall on New Year’s Eve at an airport in East Jakarta. Rainfall above 150mm per day is considered extreme.
The flooding and landslides have caused extensive damage to buildings and infrastructure, including hundreds of homes and 20 bridges. A state of emergency is still in place in several flood-affected areas.
Indonesia has been hit by widespread flooding after days of its most intense rainfall since records began, prompting the evacuation of more than 31,200 people from Jakarta alone
Flash flooding and landslides have reportedly killed 16 people, injured 100 others, and damaged or destroyed hundreds of homes and buildings across several provinces, including North Sumatra, West Java, Bengkulu and Jakarta.
The Indonesian Red Cross – Palang Merah Indonesia, or PMI – has deployed 456 volunteers to support the affected people and meet the rising humanitarian needs.
On 31 December, Indonesia’s Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency measured 377 mm of rainfall at an airport in East Jakarta – the highest since records began in 1966. Rainfall above 150mm per day is considered extreme by the agency.
In coordination with the authorities, Red Cross staff and volunteers have been helping with evacuation, search and rescue, assessment, setting up field kitchens and delivering emergency supplies. Aid delivered by 2 January has included seven rubber boats, 400 hygiene kits, 200 tarpaulins, and 500 sarongs. Staff and volunteers are using two-way communication (for example using the hashtag #TanyaPMI or Ask PMI) to spread life-saving messages on evacuation and avoiding hypothermia.
Indonesia: 57,000 people homeless one year after Sulawesi earthquakes, tsunami and liquefaction
Palu /Kuala Lumpur, 23 September 2019 – One year after earthquakes, a tsunami and liquefaction struck Sulawesi in Indonesia on 28 September 2018, an estimated 57,000 people remain homeless, the Indonesian Red Cross and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) said today.
The triple disaster killed more than 4,300 people and damaged or destroyed more than 103,000 houses. One year on, 14,300 households (57,000 people), who lost their homes and farms to liquefaction are still living in temporary accommodation, unsure where and when they can rebuild.
Indonesian Red Cross or Palang Merah Indonesia Head of Disaster Management Arifin M. Hadi said:
“In the past year, Indonesian Red Cross staff and volunteers have brought emergency items like food, hygiene kits, mosquito nets and blankets to 108,000 people, and drinking water to 280,000 people. We will now shift our focus on creating a more resilient community, training people to build better, stronger homes, providing permanent water sources, rebuilding health centres and helping people restore their incomes by providing livestock or boats.
IFRC Indonesia Head of Country Office, Jan Gelfand said:
“We are hoping the government will redouble their efforts to identify settlement areas and help thousands of families still living in camps and temporary shelters build permanent homes with infrastructure that is more resilient to future disasters. Families still need our help to move on after this disaster.”
The Indonesian Red Cross, with the support of IFRC and partners, will focus on the long-term recovery needs of nearly 90,000 people in 24 of the worst-hit communities in Sulawesi through to 2021. Assistance includes awareness campaigns on health and hygiene, training to build safer houses, disaster preparedness and help to restart businesses or find new jobs.
 Source: Unpublished report from the Global Shelter Cluster, Indonesia https://www.sheltercluster.org/hub/sulawesi-tsunamieq. Please contact [email protected] for a copy of the file.
Palu/Kuala Lumpur, 25 March 2019 – Six months after Sulawesi was hit by a powerful and shallow earthquake, tsunami and liquefaction, survivors face a painfully slow and complex recovery.
On 28 September 2018, a series of strong earthquakes struck Central Sulawesi, the worst a shallow, magnitude 7.4. The earthquake triggered tsunami waves of up to three metres high. The tsunami in turn caused landslides and liquefaction that swallowed entire villages whole. In all, the triple disaster killed 4,340 people.
Within minutes, trained staff and volunteers from the Indonesian Red Cross (Palang Merah Indonesia or PMI) were in action, leading search and rescue efforts and providing first aid and other life-saving help. In the six months since, a massive emergency response operation by the Red Cross, supported by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), has reached 119,400 people, with assistance including healthcare for 13,300 people, 16 million litres of safe drinking water distributed to 69,400 people, emergency shelter tools distributed to 100,000 people, psychosocial support given to 13,000 people and 2,300 people helped to trace family members.
Indonesian Red Cross Head of Disaster Management Arifin M. Hadi said:
“This disaster was violent and unexpected and completely devastated communities right across Sulawesi. The response was driven by local organizations and expertise. Indonesian Red Cross volunteers from the affected areas were the first to respond, and they were backed up by the mobilization of 1,426 staff and volunteers from all over Indonesia.
“Many of our own people were affected by the earthquake, tsunami and liquefaction but went into action to help others who were even worse off,” said Arifin M. Hadi.
With the emergency phase now over, the long, complex recovery and rebuilding process has only just begun. As of 12 February, 173,000 people were still homeless, many uncertain where they will be able to rebuild because their land has been swallowed by liquefaction or is at risk of future tsunamis. Aftershocks continue to strike fear even for people whose homes are undamaged. The triple disaster also robbed families of their income, destroying fishing boats and agricultural irrigation, damaging businesses that employed people.
Despite the devastation, survivors speak of their determination to pick up the pieces of their lives. Suriyati, who goes by one name, and used to live in coastal town Sirenja, said:
"When the disaster first happened, I was terrified, and left everything to God. But now survival mode has kicked in, and we're doing whatever we can to build our lives again. Some of my neighbours have begun small businesses to help make ends meet, as the earthquake and tsunami destroyed our farms."
IFRC Indonesia Head of Country Jan Gelfand said:
“It has only been six months since the catastrophe and recovery is understandably slow. We’ve seen from major disasters around the world that cities and communities take years to build but only seconds to destroy. How can you rebuild a coastline, city or community when large parts of it are simply swallowed by the earth? We will continue to stand by people over the next years as they recover and rebuild.”
In December 2018, IFRC revised its emergency appeal upwards to 38.9 million Swiss francs (38.6 million US dollars / 34 million euros) to support the Indonesian Red Cross to reach 167,000 people affected by disasters in Lombok, Sulawesi and the Sunda Straits.
Palu/Geneva, 10 October 2018 – Demand for Red Cross health services in the shattered communities of Palu, Donggala and Sigi is skyrocketing as mobile health clinics reach remote areas that were affected by the 28 September earthquakes and tsunami.
More than 2,620 survivors have now been treated for injuries and sickness in the aftermath of the double disaster, with five Indonesian Red Cross mobile health clinics bringing health services to previously inaccessible communities.
Iris van Deinse, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) communications delegate in Palu, is with an Indonesian Red Cross mobile health clinic bringing treatment and support to remote communities in the disaster zone.
She said: “We are reaching more and more people every day and are expanding the mobile clinic services to meet the growing demand. More than 2,620 people have received treatment so far, not counting the many survivors who received first aid in the immediate aftermath of the earthquakes and tsunami.
“While we’re focusing on critical care and helping people who were injured in the double disaster, we know that not all wounds are visible. The survivors will also need psychosocial support if they are to recover from the horrors they have endured, and we will be introducing these services in the coming days.”
As well as expanding its health services in the affected area, the Indonesian Red Cross operation is also distributing clean water, food, hygiene kits, mosquito nets, and shelter materials to people who have lost their homes.
The disaster zone is still being affected by aftershocks, with a 5.2 magnitude event sending survivors screaming into the streets of Palu on Tuesday. Tens of thousands of people are still sleeping outside, as their homes are too badly damaged to live in.
Government agencies report that at least 2,100 people have been killed and more than 10,600 have been injured. The double disaster has also damaged or destroyed around 67,310 homes. IFRC is appealing for 22 million Swiss francs to support 160,000 people affected by the earthquake and tsunami in Sulawesi, and the series of earthquakes on the island of Lombok.
Palu/Geneva, 5 October 2018 – One week after earthquakes and a powerful tsunami devastated the island of Sulawesi, more and more relief is arriving in shattered communities after Red Cross teams reached previously inaccessible areas of Palu, Donggala and Sigi.
The main focus of the Indonesian Red Cross operation is now on the distribution of clean water and food, providing medical support, and evacuating survivors from the disaster zone.
Iris van Deinse, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) communications delegate in Palu, is with the teams bringing food, clean water and medical support to the worst affected areas.
She said: “More and more aid is arriving every day – a plane has just arrived with generators and tarpaulins from the government of New Zealand – and 70 tons of Red Cross relief goods are on their way to Palu.
“Many roads are still impassible, and access is still a major challenge, but we are bringing goods in by boat and volunteers are carrying aid to isolated communities on foot.
“The shock and trauma here is palpable, and the area is still affected by aftershocks a week after the disaster. Red Cross teams are doing everything they can to comfort survivors and evacuate them to safer areas of the island.”
Red Cross volunteers have reached the settlement of Banawa, in Donggala, where every home along the shoreline was wiped out by the tsunami. The team has described Banawa as the worst affected area they have so far seen. The survivors have been evacuated – or have travelled independently - to neighbouring houses in the hills, where they are in need of health care, tents, blankets, baby food, and diapers.
Around 50 Indonesian Red Cross volunteers are expected to escort survivors from the Petobo and Balaroa settlements to safety today. Hundreds of blankets, clean water, tarpaulins, mats and 1,400kg of rice will be distributed to survivors in Sigi and Donggala. Three water trucks are being used and a further seven trucks are on their way to the area.
One Red Cross search and rescue team is still active and responding to requests from the affected communities. Heavy machinery has arrived to help excavate buried settlements, and Indonesian Red Cross volunteers will also be helping to manage any dead bodies that are found.
Government agencies report that at least 1,581 people have been killed, more than 2,500 have been injured, and 113 people are still missing. IFRC is appealing for 22 million Swiss francs to support 160,000 people affected by the earthquake and tsunami in Sulawesi, and the series of earthquakes on the island of Lombok.