Philippines

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16/03/2022 | Press release

Philippines: 2 million exposed to climate disasters 3 months after Typhoon Rai

Kuala Lumpur/Manila, March 16, 2022 – More than 2.4 million still need ongoing relief and are left exposed to extreme climate disasters more than three months after Super Typhoon Rai ravaged the eastern Philippines. Typhoon Rai severely affected 11 million people and smashed over two million houses in December 2021. Most affected families are still living under roofless or makeshift homes made of tarpaulins and salvaged iron sheets while others remain displaced and are forced to live with relatives and friends. Millions of people lost income and have disrupted livelihoods made more difficult due to the severe impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, rising prices of food, construction materials and other basic commodities. Philippine Red cross Chairman Richard Gordon said: “Months have passed but we are still assisting communities hit by Typhoon Rai, one of the most destructive storms in our lifetime. The help of the Red Cross doesn't stop with providing hot meals, relief items, and giving access to safe and clean water. “We will be here to help people recover every step of the way, but we need to mobilise much more support to help people rebuild safer and stronger shelters to withstand the next storm.” Red Cross volunteers are providing food packs, clean water supplies, tarpaulins, iron sheets and shelter tool kits to repair damaged homes, and other essential relief supplies. Cash grants are helping families access basic needs, kickstarting the local economy. More than 400,000 people have been supported by Red Cross since the typhoon hit. The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is concerned that greater action is needed to protect millions of people at risk due to the typhoon. IFRC Philippines Head of Delegation Alberto Bocanegra said: “This is a critical time for people whose homes were torn from their foundations by typhoon Rai. The longer it takes for people to recover, the more they become susceptible and exposed to the risks of extreme weather events. “We must not let these families who are most vulnerable to climate change be reduced to statistics.” IFRC is appealing for 20 million Swiss francs to provide more than 400,000 people with immediate relief, including food supplies, restored access to clean water, and longer-term support to help families rebuild their homes and shattered livelihoods. To date, the Emergency Appeal has received 35 per cent of funds needed for the response. For more information or to arrange an interview, contact: Asia Pacific Office: Antony Balmain, +60 12 230 8451, [email protected] In Manila, France Noguera, +63-998-9606-291, [email protected]

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25/01/2022 | Press release

Philippines: New data reveals Typhoon Rai wrecked 1.5 million houses

Kuala Lumpur/Manila, 25 January 2022 – New assessments reveal the full extent of Super Typhoon Rai’s devastation when it slammed into the Philippines a little over a month ago, with the storm destroying or damaging a staggering 1.5 million houses, more than any other typhoon in recent decades. Philippine Red Cross is ramping up its shelter support by transporting table saws, chainsaws and generators to areas hardest hit by the typhoon, including Cebu, Bohol, Palawan, Siargao and Dinagat islands. The equipment is enabling Red Cross carpenters and trained volunteers to transform millions of fallen coconut trees into coco lumber to rebuild safer and stronger homes in the worst-affected areas. Carpenters are training local people in safer house construction, to provide vital wages for families who lost their livelihoods, including the agricultural and fishing equipment they relied upon to earn an income. Philippine Red Cross Chairman Richard Gordon said: “This is a much bigger disaster than the world realised a month ago. People who relied on farming, fishing and tourism can’t earn an income now. Millions of people don’t have a roof over their heads. "Red Cross is supporting 30,000 families with roofing materials like corrugated iron sheets and tarpaulins to protect them from the sun and rain, but we need greater international support to meet the enormous need for safer and stronger homes for millions of people. “The typhoon comes in the middle of a pandemic and a political campaign, which draw attention away from what truly is a catastrophe. This must not become forgotten tomorrow morning.” IFRC Head of Philippine Country Office Alberto Bocanegra said: “It’s a little over one month since Typhoon Rai slammed into the Philippines, yet millions of people still urgently need humanitarian support, including homes, clean water supplies and healthcare. “Assessment data reveals that this Super Typhoon has caused enormous devastation, destroying or damaging more homes than any storm in recent decades. “Filipinos are tough, and they are rebuilding, with support from Philippine Red Cross and other agencies, but more must be done to help people rebuild their shattered homes.” Philippine Red Cross has been on the ground since the super typhoon hit and has already reached 36,000 people with emergency shelter support, including toolkits, construction materials and tarpaulins to help people set up temporary shelters and start rebuilding. Emergency teams are providing kitchen sets, sleeping kits, pillows, mattresses, bedsheets, blankets and clothing. Longer-term support is required to enable families to rebuild their homes safely, particularly those in vulnerable circumstances, living on isolated islands and in remote or hard to reach areas. IFRC co-leads the Shelter Cluster Philippines with the Government of the Philippines to assess the typhoon’s impact on households, coordinating and prioritising emergency shelter work with all partners. The International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is appealing for CHF 20 million to support more than 400,000 people over 24 months. A top priority includes assisting people to rebuild safer shelters, including emergency housing materials and essential items, replacement of destroyed houses, and legal support on housing, land and property issues. For more information, contact: IFRC Asia Pacific Office: Antony Balmain, +60 12 230 845, [email protected] IFRC Philippine Delegation: Karina Coates, +61 (0) 404 086 006, [email protected]

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06/01/2022 | Press release

Philippines: Mounting health crisis after super typhoon

Kuala Lumpur/Manila, January 6, 2022 - The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) warns of a mounting health crisis in the eastern Philippines after Super Typhoon Rai destroyed hospitals and affected more than 7.3 million people. Philippine Red Cross is scaling up critical healthcare on islands devastated by the typhoon, locally known as Typhoon Odette, to prevent further spread of COVID-19, and deadly waterborne diseases including gastroenteritis and acute watery diarrhoea. There have been more than 400 cases of diarrhoea and gastroenteritis in typhoon-affected areas, with 141 health facilities damaged by the storm, according to Philippine Government agencies. Philippine Red Cross Chairman Richard Gordon said: “Philippine Red Cross health teams are providing vital care at emergency medical tents on Siargao Island, boosting health services at the hospital, which was severely damaged by the typhoon, losing much of its roof. “We’re urgently sending more health teams, hygiene kits and resources, including safe water supplies and water filtration systems to Siargao island, Cebu, Palawan and Bohol, to prevent the spread of disease.” IFRC Head of Philippine Delegation Alberto Bocanegra said: “It is extremely concerning that people have been getting very sick and even dying in areas smashed by this typhoon, which has left millions without access to clean drinking water, hospitals and health facilities. “Red Cross is urgently ramping up healthcare and providing clean water to prevent severe illness and death from diseases like gastroenteritis and diarrhoea.” The IFRC is appealing for 20 million Swiss francs to provide more than 400,000 people with immediate relief, including food supplies, restored access to clean water, and longer-term support to help families rebuild their homes and shattered livelihoods. For more information or to arrange an interview, contact: Asia Pacific Office: Antony Balmain, +60 12 230 8451, [email protected] IFRC Philippine Delegation, Karina Coates, +61 (0) 404 086 006 [email protected]

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19/12/2021 | Emergency

Philippines: Typhoon Rai (Odette)

Typhoon Rai, locally named Odette, hit the Philippines on 16 December 2021,ravaging islands and coastal communities in the east and flooding towns and cities across the country. Philippine Red Cross emergency teams mobilized immediately to provide vital humanitarian assistance, reporting widespread devastation to homes and livelihoods. Through this Emergency Appeal, the IFRC will support the Philippine Red Cross to deliver urgent relief and longer term recovery efforts for an estimated 400,000 people.

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19/12/2021 | Press release

Philippines: International aid vital after typhoon devastation

Kuala Lumpur/Manila, 19 December 2021 - International action is critical for hundreds of thousands of people whose homes and livelihoods have been decimated by Super Typhoon Rai. In response to the devastation caused by the typhoon, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) has launched an Emergency Appeal for 20 million Swiss francs to fund urgent relief and longer term recovery efforts for an estimated 400,000 people. Typhoon Rai slammed into the eastern Philippines on Thursday, 16 December ravaging islands and coastal communities in the eastern Philippines and carving a path of devastation, flooding towns and cities across the country. Philippine Red Cross Chairman Richard Gordon said: “Filipinos are rallying together with courage, but after losing everything in this savage storm, international support will enable hundreds of thousands of people to rebuild their homes and decimated livelihoods. “Red Cross emergency teams are reporting complete carnage in the coastal areas. Homes, hospitals, school and community buildings have been ripped to shreds. “Our volunteers are providing urgent relief for people who have lost everything, including food, drinking water, first aid, medical care, and somewhere safe to shelter.” Typhoon Rai is one of the most powerful storms on record to hit the southern Philippines. The super storm has caused widespread flooding for millions of people hit hard by the social and economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. IFRC Head of Philippine Country Office Alberto Bocanegra said: “Red Cross teams are describing widespread devastation in coastal areas. It’s going to be a long, tough road for people to rebuild and get their lives back on track. “The emergency appeal that we have launched in support of the Philippine Red Cross will enable relief and longer-term assistance. We need to be ready to urgently increase support as the full extent of the disaster becomes clear.” The Philippines is struck by around 20 typhoons a year, with climate change intensifying the risk of more powerful and frequent storms. For more information or to arrange an interview, contact: Kuala Lumpur: Rachel Punitha, +60-19-791-3830, [email protected] In Bangkok: Preeti Abraham, +66 61 412 3910, [email protected] In Geneva: Teresa Goncalves, +44 7891 857 056, [email protected]

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17/12/2021 | Press release

Philippines: Devastation in areas hit by Super Typhoon

Kuala Lumpur/Manila, December 17, 2021 – Villages have been smashed by destructive winds and towns are underwater after Super Typhoon Rai bulldozed across the Philippines. Red Cross emergency response teams are helping rescue people in severe floods that submerged large areas of cities including Cagayan de Oro, Bohol and Kabankalan city according to initial assessments. More than 140,000 people have been severely affected. Homes and infrastructure have been devastated across islands in the eastern Philippines including Mindanao, Siargao and Nonoc. Philippine Red Cross Chairman Richard Gordon said: “This is one of the most powerful typhoons to ever hit the southern Philippines. It has torn houses to pieces, it's dumping torrential rain, and severely flooding cities and towns. “Top priority is preventing loss of life, rescuing people from floodwaters, providing medical care and first aid, hot meals, and drinking water to people who don’t know whether they still have a home left standing. “We are ramping up relief efforts and standing by our Filipino people. This typhoon is a terrible surprise for the festive season.” Red Cross volunteer and emergency teams are serving thousands of hot meals and providing relief, including medical care, first aid and psychological support, with tens of thousands of people stranded at evacuation centres. Emergency teams are rushing to the worst affected islands to assess the scale of the damage and provide critical relief. IFRC Head of Philippine Country Office Alberto Bocanegra said: “The full picture is only just starting to emerge, but it is clear there is widespread devastation. It is heartbreaking to see homes, Red Cross offices and even a hospital ripped apart. “We hold grave fears for people in areas including Siargao and other islands that still have no communication and contact with the outside world. “It’s essential to get relief, including tarpaulins for shelter, food supplies and healthcare to people who face the toughest days of their lives.” For more information or to arrange an interview, contact: In Kuala Lumpur: Antony Balmain, +60 12 230 8451, [email protected]

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16/12/2021 | Press release

Philippines: Race to keep millions safe from super typhoon

Kuala Lumpur/Manila, December 16, 2021 - One of the world’s strongest storms of 2021 is bearing down on the Philippines threatening millions of people with destructive winds and flash floods. Philippine Red Cross teams across eastern areas of the country are working around the clock to preposition rescue vehicles, first aid teams, evacuation and safety equipment as well as relief supplies including pre-prepared meals and drinking water. Typhoon Odette has intensified rapidly in the past hours, adding urgency to emergency preparations made more difficult by the COVID-19 pandemic. Philippine Red Cross Chairman Richard Gordon said: “Red Cross emergency teams are urgently helping as tens of thousands of families bunker down for the most powerful storm they have faced this year. Volunteers are equipping shelters with blankets, first aid and food supplies. We are doing thit to protect the people. “Filipinos are tough but this Super Typhoon is a bitter blow for millions of people who are still recovering from devastating storms, floods and COVID-19 in the past year.” Typhoon Odette is one of the most powerful storms to menace the Philippines in recent years. Millions of people are still rebuilding their homes and livelihoods that were shattered in eight major storms that battered the country late last year. IFRC Head of Philippine Country Office Alberto Bocanegra said: “This monster storm is frightening and threatens to hit coastal communities like a freight train. We are very concerned that climate change is making typhoons more ferocious and unpredictable. “Red Cross emergency teams are in overdrive to help people evacuate, minimize loss of life and get any help needed in the face of this dangerous storm.” The Philippines is hit by an average of 20 storms each year. In October, Tropical storm Kompasu affected more than 200,000 people in the north of the country and swamped thousands of homes. For more information or to arrange an interview, contact: In Kuala Lumpur: Antony Balmain, +60 12 230 8451, [email protected]

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02/11/2020 | Emergency

Philippines: Floods and typhoons 2020

The Philippines, specifically the island groups of Luzon and Visayas, were hit by a series of typhoons in quick succession in October and November 2020. Super Typhoon Goni and Typhoon Vamco caused massive damage to agriculture, infrastructure, and shelter—resulting in destruction and hardship to some of the most vulnerable communities in the country.

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18/08/2021 | Press release

COVID-19: Southeast Asia battles world’s highest deaths

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

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09/04/2021 | Article

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.

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17/03/2021 | Press release

New report: Alarming levels of climate-related displacement

Kuala Lumpur, 16 March 2021 – A new report reveals 12.6 million people have been internally displaced around the world in the last six months mainly due to climate and weather-related disasters, according to data available through the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre. The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) report, Responding to Disasters and Displacement in a Changing Climate, comes hot on the heels of a record-breaking 26 climate-related disaster response operations launched across Asia and the Pacific in 2020. Helen Brunt, Asia Pacific Migration and Displacement Coordinator, IFRC said: “In just the last six months, there have been 12.6 million people internally displaced around the world and over 80 per cent of these forced displacements have been caused by disasters, most of which are triggered by climate and weather extremes. “Asia suffers much more than any other region from climate disaster-related displacements. These upheavals are taking a terrible toll on some of the poorest communities already reeling from the economic and social impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. COVID-19 has complicated the provision of humanitarian support to displaced communities, with greater space needed when evacuating, along with increased safety protocols. Longer term support is also more complicated for people with shattered livelihoods. “We are seeing an alarming trend of people displaced by more extreme weather events such as Typhoon Goni, the world’s most ferocious storm last year, that smashed into the Philippines. Three storms hit the Philippines in as many weeks, leaving over 3 million people destitute. “We need greater action and urgent investment to reduce internal displacement caused by the rising risk of disasters. Investing much more in local organisations and first responders is critical so they have the resources needed to protect lives, homes and their communities.” The report analyses climate-related displacement as well as a post-earthquake response across eight countries, examining response by National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies in coordination with governments and other agencies. The research finds that displacement disproportionately affects already marginalised and at-risk groups including women, children, the elderly, people with a disability, migrants and refugees. When disasters destroy villages and entire neighbourhoods, the report shows that people also face long-term housing, land and property issues. Women and children are also confronted with increased risks of violence due to climate-related displacement. “Investment in long-term solutions is urgently needed before disasters force more people away from their homes, livelihoods and communities,” said Ms Brunt. About IFRC 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. www.ifrc.org-Facebook-Twitter-YouTube Note to editors: The figure of 12.6 million displaced in the past 6 months includes 2.3 million conflict displacements. The remaining 10.3 million are displaced due to disasters triggered by natural hazards, mainly related to climate and weather extremes, but also including a small number of geophysical hazard events, particularly earthquakes. The figures come from analysis of publicly available data provided by the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre.

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27/01/2021 | Article

No more excuses! The next disaster is coming, what are you doing about it?

By Robert Kaufman, Head of Philippines Country Office, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. Imagine getting hit by six typhoons during a deadly pandemic. For millions of people in the Philippines, this is their reality as 2020 comes crashing to a close. Predictions of the increasing severity and frequency of emergencies have come true. It’s heart-breaking, exhausting, and scary. But most of all it’s frustrating as much of this human and economic toll can be prevented. We have known about the brutal effects of climate change for a long time, yet we haven’t been doing enough to fix it. Debates about the effects of climate change or whether partners should support more preparedness are failing people. If your roof blows off three times in one month and this extreme weather happens with relentless certainty, there’s nothing to debate. It is time to prepare more for what’s coming. We know that the Philippines is one of the most disaster-prone countries in the world, topping the charts with the most disasters of all countries the past two years. It’s number two for the past decade just behind China. We know the number of climate-related disasters has risen almost 35% since the 1990s. The stuff of Hollywood movies has become a reality for tens of millions of people around the world, as they face bigger, more violent storms and more disease outbreaks. For decades we anticipated another pandemic. Hollywood blockbusters told horror stories of contagious diseases. Since 2008, we’ve seen fantasy become reality with several pandemics, the H1N1 flu virus, SARS and now COVID-19. Yet somehow, the world has been taken by surprise. Let’s make no mistake, we have made inroads. Governments, humanitarian agencies and countless communities deserve credit for helping to save lives. Just seven years ago, the most destructive typhoon to hit the Philippines on record, Haiyan, killed close to 7,000 people. When Typhoon Goni hit in 2020, a storm as strong as Haiyan, less than 70 lives were lost. Still, I’m frustrated. Early on in management, I learned that when you spend significant time and money on something, it is a priority. Most of the time and money in the aid sector is still spent on response, as if we don’t know what’s coming; neither the humanitarian community, the policymakers, nor the big donors. Why are we not using our extraordinary capacity to anticipate crises to prioritize our time and money? What price do we need to place on the lives of people who have died or had their livelihoods ripped apart by disease and disaster before we change our priorities? Today, we largely know the types of risks we are going to face, where they are going to hit and even in many cases, when. Many of the answers are clear as day.Typhoons strike the Philippines every November and December. Floods always follow drought in East Africa. We know the risks and we know what to do about it. The latest study on the value of preparedness confirms what we already knew. Every dollar invested in reducing risks from climate-related disasters saves us $6 when we are fixing up the mess, according to the United States Institute of Building Sciences and the United Nations. Super Typhoon Goni packed the most powerful winds of any storm in the world last year. Together with typhoon Vamco and other major storms, they came at a huge cost, seriously affecting the lives of more than 8.1 million people. More than 425,000 homes have been damaged or destroyed. Among the millions whose livelihoods were disrupted, at least 200,000 farmers and fishermen lost their only source of income. The cost of agricultural damages totalled more than ₱12.3 billion (US260m) according to the Philippines Department of Agriculture. Together, the storms were considered the secondmost expensive typhoons on record, costing more than $US 1 billion. Money normally reserved for responding after disasters strike needs to be made available earlier and for longer-term solutions. We need to stop soil erosion, plant trees and improve drainage. We need to avoid crop wastage with better grain storage and irrigation. We need to build safer houses with stronger and more permanent foundations. We need to protect land rights and strengthen economic development and social protection programs so that people are not dependent on aid when disaster strikes. There needs to be a public accounting of how well resource allocation aligns with scientific prediction and the lessons we have learned. We must put our money where our mouth is. Failing is a dereliction of our responsibility to those most at risk and to ourselves. This past year, millions have faced often insurmountable hardships and heartache. We have a duty to protect the hope and dignity of those we pledge to support by ensuring everyone has a fair chance of a decent life. There just can’t be any more excuses.

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26/11/2020 | Press release

Typhoon crisis: 305,000 houses wrecked in Philippines

Kuala Lumpur/Manila/Geneva, 26 November 2020 – Consecutive, devastating typhoons in the Philippines have laid the foundations for a long-term humanitarian crisis as more than 305,000 homes have been damaged or destroyed according to humanitarian assessments. Typhoons Molave and Vamco, followed by Super Typhoon Goni, shattered the already precarious livelihoods of more than 200,000 farmers and fisher-folk, the social and economic consequences of which will reverberate across these rural and fishing communities for months or even years to come. Millions of people affected by these typhoons already faced huge social and economic hardships due to COVID-19 restrictions Philippines Red Cross rescue and relief teams across the region supported hard-pressed local volunteer teams and strained local government relief efforts. The same teams are now turning to the massive task of providing basic services like water and psycho-social support to traumatized populations, and helping to rebuild and reestablish lost livelihoods. Philippine Red Cross Chairman Richard Gordon said: “These huge back-to-back storms have passed for now but we have growing concerns for those hundreds of thousands of families who have lost their homes and livelihoods and are now facing the very hard realities of picking up the pieces.” “Millions of lives are at stake, so it’s critical we re-double our efforts to support these families as they rebuild their homes and reestablish livelihoods.” With the support of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), Philippine Red Cross teams are providing emergency shelter, food, clean water, and essential household items to displaced families. The IFRC has revised its international Emergency Appeal upwards to 10.8 million Swiss Francs to support at least 120,000 people whose lives were turned upside down, and face the daunting task of rebuilding homes and livelihoods destroyed by Typhoons Goni, Vamco and associated floods. More than 1.15 million Swiss Francs has already been released from the IFRC’s Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF) to provide emergency relief and immediate support for typhoon and flood-affected communities. Head of IFRC Philippine Country Office Robert Kaufman said: “This is a growing humanitarian crisis caused by non-stop climate-related disasters. People have had no time to recover from one shock before the next one is upon them. It is tragic to see people who are ready to rebuild their lives facing set back after set back. “The enormity is driven home when you visit these communities and meet the women, men and children confronting the impact of climate change on a daily basis. They are not numbers or statistics, but people trying to put roofs on their homes, cook a meal for their family and who want to send children to school, but instead have to deal with the growing frequency and severity of horrible storms. “It is vital that we, as an international community, bring resources to bear where they are needed, and right now we need to support these people as they struggle with lives torn apart by multiple storms on top of the relentless toll of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

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24/11/2020 | Article

Succession of typhoons leave Filipino families with life-altering decisions.

Photos: France Noguera and JC Prillo Rebuilding your home, reestablishing income source, or feeding families are all the basic right of people. But those in the Philippines, devastated by typhoons Goni and Vamco are now facing incredible life changing decisions. They have to now prioritize one basic need over the other as they start to rebuild their lives in the wake of back-to-back super typhoons. Jesus and Jocelyn Onsay with their grandchild. For Jesus and Jocelyn Onsay, rebuilding their damaged home and providing a roof for their five grandchildren is a priority. However, they can’t buy any materials to start the repairs because their crops, their only source of income, were destroyed by the storms. With their crops destroyed, even providing food for the family is a challenge, and the food relief currently available is not enough. Jesus Onsay blows air to start a fire and boil water. His grandchildren share a pack of instant noodles from the food relief for breakfast. “It’s really difficult. We can’t do anything but rebuild our house. We can’t go to work because we need to repair our house first so the children will have roof above their heads. It pains me to see them get wet by the rain,” Jesus said. Jocelyn checks their belongings covered by a tarpaulin that was provided by Red Cross after Typhoon Mina in 2007. Their home’s roof was completely ripped off by Typhoon Goni’s powerful winds. Typhoon Vamco compounded their suffering, dumping rains that drenched possessions and inundated their house. Ceferino and Celeste stand in front of their ruined home. Tarpaulins serve as a temporary roof and walls to protect them from the rain and heat of the sun. Ceferino, 67, and Celeste, 65, have tried to make their destroyed house habitable again using a tarpaulin provided by the Philippine Red Cross and nails and pieces of wood salvaged from the ruins of their home. Ceferino earns a living as a part time construction laborer but with his age, finding a job has proven not to be that easy. Ceferino is trying to rebuild using whatever is left of his devastated home. “Only few people hire me because of my age. I am trying my best to repair our house to make it livable without enough materials because I have no money,” Ceferino explained. Christopher Ceres drains his home of flood water brought by Typhoon Vamco. Christopher has to make the difficult decision of cleaning and repairing his house first but that means losing his source of income. “That’s the problem, instead of attending to our livelihood, we have to fix our house first, so we have a shelter. Our income comes from harvesting copra (dried coconut kernel) and abaca. Our abaca is already rotting (up in the mountain). This is life. We have to accept it,” Christopher said. Abaca crops – an important source of income for many families, were destroyed by typhoons Goni and Vamco. The typhoons have also devastated fishing communities, like in Bato, Catanduanes. Alvin Navarro left home to try and save his family’s water buffalo from floods but when he returned home the water had already reached the second floor, leaving him no time to save their belongings. Food for his two children and wife is Alvin’s priority. He is at a loss on how to recover from all the devastation brought by the massive flooding to their home and farm. He was able to save the water buffaloes, but said he will need support to replant his crops and rebuild the farm. Typhoons Goni and Vamco have destroyed crops that are crucial for food supplies and income, including these corn fields in Amulung, Cagayan. Elma Navarro, her two children and 97-year-old mother survived the massive flood caused by Typhoon Vamco by staying on the roof for hours. Elma Navarro’s house was seriously damaged by the flood brought by typhoon Vamco. With the help of relatives, they managed to repair the house, but Elma has doubts if it could withstand another major disaster. As a single mum, Elma’s focus is now to look for work and an income that can help her rebuild a safer home while supporting her three children and 97-year-old mother. “This is the worst flood I have experienced since Typhoon Mangkhut in 2017. I wash clothes to earn money to support my family and without an additional source of income, I don’t think I will be able to rebuild our house,” Elma said. Nearly 1.3 million people are still suffering after consecutive storms destroyed their homes. The livelihoods of over 200,000 farmers and fishermen are affected. The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies has released 1.15 million Swiss francs from the Disaster Relief Emergency Fund to provide immediate and urgent needs of affected communities. More support is needed to help people get back on their feet. IFRC launched a revised Emergency Appeal for 10.8 million Swiss francs to support the Philippine Red Cross in its operations to assist families in rebuilding their homes and restarting their disrupted livelihoods.

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15/11/2020 | Press release

Catastrophic floods submerge whole towns in Philippines

Kuala Lumpur/Manila/Geneva, 15 November 2020 – Catastrophic floods have completely submerged entire towns and villages in the northern region of the Philippines, forcing tens of thousands of people from their homes just days after Typhoon Vamco tore through the country. Dozens of towns and villages have been devastated in the Cagayan Valley, north of the capital Manila as flood waters up to 12 metres deep swamped tens of thousands of homes. Red Cross fears for the safety and wellbeing of thousands who remain trapped, with at least 47,000 people rescued so far according to local authorities. Initial assessments indicate around 90 per cent of homes have been flooded in Tuguegarao, the Cagayan provincial capital. Red Cross teams have been working through the night searching in the floodwaters by flashlight and rescuing people stranded on rooftops. Philippine Red Cross Chairman Richard Gordon said: “Our teams are urgently searching for people trapped in these horrifying floodwaters and rescuing people who have been forced to camp on their roofs. We’re making sure people have access to critical first aid, shelter, hot meals and safe drinking water. “These floods are a calamity and the worst we have seen in Cagayan for at least 40 years. More Red Cross rescue teams and resources are being rushed to help with our massive rescue and relief operations." The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies is releasing 750,000 Swiss Francs to assist with immediate relief for 40,000 people affected by the floods and Typhoon Vamco, including communities in Cagayan Valley. IFRC has also more than doubled an international Emergency Appeal to 8.5 million Swiss Francs, to support at least 100,000 people whose homes and livelihoods were devastated by Super Typhoon Goni earlier this month. Head of IFRC Philippine Country Office Robert Kaufman said: “These catastrophic floods are another sad and brutal blow for the people of the Philippines. This is a terrible triple disaster as these terrifying floods and two devastating typhoons strike communities already reeling from the health, social and economic impacts of COVID-19. "We are urgently redoubling our support for the people of the Philippines, all while keeping people safe from COVID-19, in one of the most complex relief operations ever. People need immediate relief as well as longer term support to recover and rebuild livelihoods in the weeks and months ahead. We must build back better in the facing of recurring threats.”

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12/11/2020 | Press release

New storms hits towns devastated by Super Typhoon Goni

Kuala Lumpur/Manila/Geneva, 12 November 2020 – Another major storm has struck the same communities that were devastated by Super Typhoon Goni in the Philippines only 10 days ago. Typhoon Vamco is hitting central Luzon in the Philippines today after dumping heavy rain on more than 1.6 million people already severely affected by last week’s super typhoon. The Red Cross holds particularly grave concerns for more than 240,000 people who lost their homes to Typhoon Goni, especially those who are living in makeshift shelters along the coast as this latest storm hits. Compounding the growing emergency, local government emergency funds have been depleted by the ongoing response to the COVID-19 pandemic. With the support of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), Philippine Red Cross teams are working on two fronts: providing emergency shelter, food, clean water, and essential household items to displaced families, while also helping communities evacuate and prepare for this latest typhoon. Philippine Red Cross Chairman Richard Gordon said: “It’s critical to quickly begin rebuilding and help people recover after a devastating typhoon, but these non-stop storms are slamming our communities during a deadly pandemic, making this one of the most complicated disaster responses ever. “We have mobilized all our available resources to meet this new challenge, supporting communities that are getting back on their feet after being hit hard by multiple storms on top of the relentless physical, emotional and economic toll of COVID-19.” The IFRC launched a preliminary Emergency Appeal for 3.5 million Swiss Francs in the hours after Typhoon Goni hit. That helped to save lives, but it has become apparent the Red Cross will need to increase its request for support. Head of IFRC Philippine Country Office Robert Kaufman said: “It’s heartbreaking to see a population, already in the grip of the COVID pandemic, facing another severe storm, the sixth to hit the Philippines in the past five weeks. Every woman, man and child in this devastated region is facing hardship and increased risks. We cannot leave them to face these challenges alone. “We expect the emergency appeal in support of the Philippine Red Cross will be substantially increased to ensure people are protected.”

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02/11/2020 | Press release

Villages destroyed as typhoon barrels across the Philippines

Kuala Lumpur/Manila, November 2, 2020 – Super Typhoon Goni has barrelled across the Philippines destroying villages and leaving massive devastation in communities already hit hard by massive storms in recent weeks. Up to 90 per cent of homes have been damaged or destroyed in areas such as Virac on Catanduanes island that bore the brunt of the typhoon, according to initial assessments. In response to the devastation caused by the typhoon, the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) has launched an Emergency Appeal for3.5 million Swiss Francs to fund relief and recovery efforts for an estimated 80,000 people. In addition, 750,000 Swiss Francs has been released to support immediate relief. Philippine Red Cross Chairman Richard Gordon said: “We are horrified by the devastation caused by this typhoon in many areas including Catanduanes island and Albay. Up to 90 per cent of homes have been badly damaged or destroyed in some areas. This typhoon has smashed in to people’s lives and livelihoods on top of the relentless physical, emotional and economic toll of COVID-19. “Our teams are in the devastated areas, supporting search and rescue efforts, and providing critical relief including food, blankets, tarpaulins and cooking equipment, and we will be there for the long haul.” Super Typhoon Goni was the fourth typhoon to hit the Philippines in the past month, at the same time the country grapples with the second-highest number of COVID-19 infections in South East Asia, next only to Indonesia. IFRC Head of Philippine Country Office, Robert Kaufman, said: “This super typhoon has hit so many very vulnerable people head on, including poor farmers, landless labourers and fisher-folk, whose livelihoods had already been disrupted by COVID-19. “The typhoon has left tens of thousands of people in desperate need of support, not only in the days to come but over the coming weeks and months, to ensure their physical and emotional well-being and to restore their livelihoods. “The emergency appeal that we have launched in support of the Philippine Red Cross is based on preliminary assessments. We need to be prepared to increase the level of support as the full scope of the disaster becomes clear” The Philippines is struck by about 20 typhoons a year, with climate change intensifying the effect of the storms. The national weather agency has warned that yet another tropical cyclone, Atsani, is gathering strength behind Goni.

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02/11/2020 | Press release

Philippine Red Cross teams provide urgent assistance after super typhoon hits

Kuala Lumpur/Manila, November 1, 2020 – Philippine Red Cross emergency response teams were on the ground when Super Typhoon Goni made landfall today, supporting search and rescue efforts and providing immediate relief to hard-hit communities as the disaster was unfolding. Super Typhoon Goni, with 225km/h sustained winds and gusts of up to 280km/h upon landfall, is one of the strongest typhoons to hit the Philippines since Typhoon Haiyan, which killed more than 6,300 people in 2013. The Philippine’s Disaster Management Council estimates the super typhoon will directly affect up to 31 million people, after suffering from three typhoons already this month and at the same time the country is grappling with the second-highest number of COVID-19 infections in South East Asia, next only to Indonesia. Experienced in responding to typhoons – about 20 of which hit the country each year – Philippine Red Cross anticipated needs, so they pre-positioned emergency response teams, first aid, hygiene kits and other relief supplies as the storm approached. Philippine Red Cross Chairman Richard Gordon said: “This ordeal is not new to us. We have learnt through experience about the need to be prepared, and the importance of ensuring communities get the support they need in the hours and days after a typhoon hits.” “Right now our staff and volunteers are where they need to be, supporting search and rescue efforts, providing meals, and distributing relief packages to people who have been evacuated or tragically lost their homes.” “The pandemic has made this much more complex, but we have been preparing for this situation, training and equipping our teams for a COVID-era response.” Philippines officials ordered the evacuation of almost a million people ahead of the storm, made even more difficult due to the need for physical distancing. IFRC Head of Philippine Country Office Robert Kaufman said: “People affected by Typhoon Goni were still reeling from the impacts of three previous cyclones that came in October. The Red Cross is ensuring that their urgent needs are supported amid the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. “We will continue to monitor and respond to these back-to-back disasters and prepare for more, as another weather disturbance is already heading towards the country.”

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02/11/2020 | Press release

Philippines braces for the year’s strongest typhoon

Kuala Lumpur/Manila, October 31, 2020 – Red Cross is ramping up its preparations as this year’s strongest typhoon tracks towards the Philippines, forcing the evacuation of tens of thousands of people in its path. Philippine Red Cross has prepositioned rescue vehicles, first aid volunteers, emergency response teams and relief items, and are assisting communities ahead of the typhoon’s expected landfall in central Luzon, northeast of Manila, on Sunday. Typhoon Goni is threatening to affect millions of people already devastated by Typhoon Molave, which crossed the same area of the Philippines only last week before going on to hit Vietnam. Philippine Red Cross Chairman Richard Gordon said: “Three storms have consecutively affected the country this month alone and now a potential super typhoon is heading our way. We are determined to do all we can to help these communities prepare for the oncoming storm. “In situations like this, preparedness is the best defense. This is even more important when we are faced with multiple disasters, including COVID-19 and successive typhoons.” Ahead of the expected landfall, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) has released a Disaster Relief Emergency Fund to support the operations of the Philippine Red Cross. IFRC Head of Philippine Country Office Robert Kaufman said: “We have to simultaneously respond to climate and health emergencies. The Red Cross is working to help communities prepare and ensure that they will be protected from COVID-19 transmission. We must respond to these disasters in ways that also help prevent the spread of the virus during evacuations.”

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11/09/2020 | Article

The race to eradicate the curse of polio in the Philippines. Again.

Susan Mercado Dr. Susan Mercado is strategic adviser at the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. She is a former Philippines Undersecretary of Health. We are on the verge of wiping out polio again in the Philippines, a battle many of us have been waging for decades. Growing up with neighbors and schoolmates who wore leg braces for limbs withered from polio, I didn't realize that polio was an ancient scourge that globally maimed or killed tens of thousands of people every year. My first job as an assistant to the Philippines Health Secretary 30 years ago gave me the privilege to work on eliminating the wild poliovirus that was living in nine million Filipino children when then Health Secretary Juan Flavier launched an immunization campaign called "Oplan Alis Disis" -- Remove Sickness -- that was based on a simple strategy: mobilize the 3 "M"s: mayors, midwives, and the media. Calling for a "Ceasefire for Children," the Philippines established local "peace zones" in areas of best by armed conflict. There we were able to deliver polio drops and other lifesaving vaccinations against measles, diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus, and Vitamin A -- regardless of religion, socio-economic status, or political affiliation. In response, mothers, fathers, and grandparents brought nine million children -- some dressed in their Sunday best -- to receive vital polio drops at health centers adorned with balloons, bands, and freebies as if for a fiesta. It took ten years of consistent routine vaccination, interspersed with national immunization days and the constant education of families in health centers, to the point of eradicating polio. By the time I became Undersecretary of Health in 1998 and by 2000, the Philippines was declared "polio-free." Yet polio is back. Today, I am seeing Red Cross volunteers and staff wearing face masks and shields standing alongside government health teams as they scour the densely populated slums of Metro Manila, going door to door to administer polio vaccine drops. After almost 20 years being polio-free, the virus has returned. The COVID-19 crisis has only made it more difficult for health workers. Today stands as one of the most dangerous periods in decades, with thousands of children not receiving vital polio vaccinations because of the lockdown. There are other problems too. Some Red Cross vaccination teams are welcomed with smiles, with families grateful that they do not have to bring their children to a health facility where they are afraid of contracting the COVID-19 virus. But for many other families, the fear of contracting COVID-19 is so great that they refuse to open their doors, speaking only through their windows. We must not allow COVID-19 to block out the message that the Philippines government has embarked on a new effort to halt the spread of polio. Take the example of Mary Rose Amauin, who refused to talk to Red Cross volunteers at first when they knocked on her door in August and her husband claimed their child had already been vaccinated. Patiently the Red Cross volunteers urged Mary Rose to reconsider. After all her questions were answered, Mary Rose eventually allowed her 10-months-old baby, Bianca to receive the drops, apologizing that she was more cautious as times are tough because of COVID-19. For Philippine Red Cross volunteer Merlita Daygo, patience and kindness have helped her convince other hesitant parents like Mary Rose to allow their children to be vaccinated. She knows that taking the time to clearly explain the purpose of the vaccine will help save children's lives. Without a house-to-house vaccination campaign, many children would miss their polio vaccination. As part of the preparation for the mass polio vaccination, volunteers and staff undergo training on how to handle refusals and how to keep everyone safe. Another volunteer vaccinator Mary Grace Kafilas told me how sad she feels when parents decline the polio vaccine. On the first day of a recent vaccination push in Rizal, seven parents refused the vaccination. What hurts so much is that it's such a simple, easy measure to prevent a life-threatening virus I am encouraged by parents whose children have contracted polio and who now strongly advise and encourage other parents to take immunization seriously. Polio infections have occurred for thousands of years and was portrayed in ancient Egyptian paintings and carvings. But it was only in the 1940s and 1950s that polio epidemics infected more than half a million people around the world every year, inflicting a lifetime of paralysis, and in some cases death. As we celebrate the great success of the eradication of the wild poliovirus in Africa, we must remember that national immunization days and the strengthening of routine vaccinations through grassroots mother and child health programs played a critical role in ridding an entire continent of this terrible disease. As the global race for a COVID-19 vaccine heats up, we must also remember that today millions of children in the Philippines also need lifesaving polio drops to address its re-emergence. In the middle of the worst pandemic in 100 years, let's make sure we take the last steps. This article first appeared in the Nikkei Asian Review

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28/07/2020 | Press release

Philippines: Red Cross urges greater vigilance as COVID-19 cases fill hospitals

Manila, 28 July 2020 - Red Cross is urging everyone in the Philippines to be even more vigilant as COVID-19 cases continue to jump by more than a thousand each day following the easing of quarantine restrictions. More than 80,000 people in the country have tested positive to COVID-19, with a record number of 2,539 cases in a single-day on 8 July. There are more than 42,000 confirmed cases this month alone, more than double the cases from January to June 30. The country has the most number of active cases compared to its neighbouring countries in South East Asia. An increasing number of hospitals are reporting full capacity and can no longer accommodate COVID-19 patients. The Department of Health reported on 14 July that the COVID-19 bed capacity in the country’s capital, Metro Manila, has reached a “danger zone” with 76 percent of COVID-19 wards occupied. A “warning zone” has been declared in four regions which have at least 30 percent of isolation beds occupied. Philippine Red Cross Chairman Richard Gordon said: “The biggest threat is complacency as we are far from being out of the woods. We need to act like we already have the virus and keep wearing face masks and practising proper handwashing and physical distancing. While we all carry out our responsibility to protect ourselves and others, we in the Philippine Red Cross will continue responding and focusing our resources on key areas where we can create the most impact to help contain the disease. Together, we will prevail.” Red Cross is playing a central role, working alongside the government in tracing, testing, isolating and treating COVID-19 patients. Thousands of volunteers are helping with surveillance and contact tracing. Seven molecular laboratories across the country have tested more than 300,000 people so far, comprising 26 percent of the national test output. Seventy-one medical tents have been set up to support public and private hospitals. Red Cross volunteers are also distributing emergency food packages, providing psychosocial support, promoting healthy behaviour and improved hygiene, reaching more than 700,000 people. IFRC’s Acting Head of Philippine Country Office, Patrick Elliott said: “These times are very challenging for all of us, but some are more at risk and we have growing concerns for the elderly, people with disabilities and families with members who have contracted the disease. We need greater efforts to overcome mounting stigma and fear in the community. Volunteers are providing for basic needs to reduce the worsening social and economic impacts of this tragic pandemic.” Of the 16,000 families being assisted with cash grants, 4,500 families have members who have contracted the disease. They are also provided with food support while in quarantine. The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is supporting National Societies in most at-risk countries through a global appeal. Philippines is second after Indonesia with the highest number of COVID-19 cases in South East Asia. About IFRC 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. www.ifrc.org-Facebook-Twitter-YouTube

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30/03/2020 | Article

Philippine Red Cross identified as key humanitarian partner of government in fight against COVID-19 under landmark Bayanihan to Heal as One Act

The Bayanihan to Heal as One Act has been signed into law last March 23, 2020 to ramp up efforts to fight COVID-19, including social safety nets and PhilHealth medical assistance to health workers and volunteers who risk their own lives in order to save the lives of others. Government will provide emergency subsidy to around 18 million low income households, to ensure that families have access to food and other basic needs in light of the heavy economic cost of the pandemic. “Finally! The Senate has adopted our amendments. Kung kinaya ng ibang bansa na lampasan ang pandemic na ito, kaya rin natin. To the Filipino people – yes, we can and yes, we will. Fight we must, win we must!”, said PRC Chairman and Senator Richard Gordon via Facebook, referring to his crucial amendments to the law, paving way for the P100,000 safety net for each healthcare worker infected by COVID-19, and a P1 million allocation each for bereaved families of healthcare workers who pass away in the line of duty. To better address COVID-19, the legislation identifies Philippine Red Cross as a key partner of the government in the distribution of goods and services to prevent and respond to the effects of the pandemic. As “auxiliary” to the public authorities in the humanitarian field, the Philippine Red Cross, supported by its worldwide Red Cross Red Crescent Movement partners, is mandated by the Philippine Red Cross Act (RA 10072) and international law to provide life-saving humanitarian aid, alleviating the suffering of people wherever they may be found. The Bayanihan to Heal as One Act emphasizes and strengthens this auxiliary role of the prime humanitarian volunteer organization in the country, to support and supplement government efforts in these challenging and volatile times. Even prior to the passage of the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act, Philippine Red Cross staff and volunteers had been mobilizing resources and providing relief assistance and pandemic prevention kits to communities, through Red Cross Chapters in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao. 1,137 liters of disinfectant solution had been donated to the Bulacan Red Cross Chapter, which it will then distribute to hospitals, barangay tanods, and other community frontliners. The Davao de Oro Red Cross Chapter provided tents to serve as 14-day quarantine facilities for some passengers traveling from other parts of the Philippines, with Compostela Red Cross Chapter providing beds and water, ensuring respect for human dignity in humanitarian aid. Philippine Red Cross Headquarters had also set up a 24/7-hour Red Cross hotline (1158) to address questions regarding COVID-19 symptoms and precautions, with volunteer doctors advising whether hospitalization may be required. Volunteer social workers also provide mental and psychosocial support to callers as part of Philippine Red Cross’ support to mental health. This helps decongest overwhelmed medical facilities by providing a first layer screening. There have been 128 calls received, the highest volume on March 24 after the new law was passed. There are currently 53 call center volunteers, and Philippine Red Cross welcomes more volunteers to serve the increasing volume of callers each day.

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02/10/2019 | Press release

Philippines: Red Cross scales up as polio threatens 11 million children

Manila/Kuala Lumpur/Geneva 2 October 2019 - Polio has made an alarming come-back after officially being eradicated 19 years ago in the Philippines. The Philippine Red Cross and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) are scaling up to help contain the highly infectious virus. On 19 September, a three-year-old girl was diagnosed with polio, the Philippines’ first confirmed case since 2000. A five-year-old boy has since tested positive. The polio virus was also detected in Manila’s sewage and the waterways of Davao in Mindanao. Low immunization rates have contributed to the outbreak. Polio is mainly transmitted by food, water or hands contaminated with human faeces containing the virus, so good hygiene is vital. Philippine Red Cross Chairman, Richard Gordon said: “We have mobilized all our chapters to coordinate with the health department and local officials and to provide the full support of volunteers for mass immunization and updating the list of all zero to five-year-old children and get their vaccination status. This will help us identify the areas with the highest risk of polio based on low vaccination coverage as well as the lack oftoilets and limited running water." The IFRC has released 336,302 Swiss francs (336,700 US dollars) from its disaster relief emergency fund to support the Philippine Red Cross in Mindanao and Metro Manila to go house-to-house to vaccinate in high-risk areas including in informal settlements and hard-to-reach areas, and children who have missed out on vaccinations. Social mobilization teams and an information campaign will target 1.2 million people with messages on the importance of vaccination. Head of the IFRC Philippines Country Office, Chris Staines said: “We are very concerned that the resurgence of polio in the Philippines puts 11 million Filipino children under five at high risk of disability and even death. We appeal to all parents to protect their children against the virus during this massive, synchronized nationwide campaign. The Philippines has eradicated polio before, and together we can do it again.” According to the World Health Organization, polio, which has no cure, can be prevented with multiple doses of a safe and effective vaccine. More than two billion children globally are protected against polio through these vaccinations. This is the third health emergency this year that the Philippine Red Cross has responded to, with babies and young children disproportionately affected. During a measles outbreak in February, the Red Cross cared for 3,400 patients by setting up seven measles care units in tents outside six hospitals, vaccinated nearly 17,000 children between six months and five years of age, and reached more than 1.9 million people with life-saving information. In response to a dengue outbreak, the Red Cross cared for 5,000 patients in nine emergency medical units set up at eight hospitals, and reached 120,000 people with messages on dengue prevention and management. Philippines Red Cross volunteers continue to respond to both of these ongoing health emergencies, even as they scale up to face the urgent risks of polio.

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26/07/2019 | Press release

Philippines: Urgent action needed to halt deadly dengue outbreak

Manila/Kuala Lumpur/Geneva, 26 July 2019 – Urgent action is needed to contain a dengue outbreak in the Philippines as cases continue to soar and an unprecedented nationwide emergency alert is issued, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and Philippine Red Cross are warning. The Philippines is experiencing an alarming dengue outbreak with more than 115,000 cases reported since the beginning of the year – 85 per cent more than during the same period in 2018. To date, dengue has already led to 491 deaths, 30 per cent of them children between the ages of 5 and 9. The significant spike in dengue is particularly alarming as the monsoon season is only starting in the country. Dengue cases peak during and after monsoon rains, raising concerns that a severe epidemic may threaten the nation in the coming months. The Philippine Red Cross is supporting government efforts to stem the outbreak. Philippines Red Cross Chairman and CEO, Richard Gordon said: “Dengue is one of the fastest spreading viral diseases and children are particularly vulnerable. Tens of thousands of patients are streaming into overcrowded hospitals. Our 2 million volunteers across the country are in the communities raising awareness about preventing infections and when to seek treatment, organising clean-up drives for mosquito breeding sites and supporting overcrowded hospitals.” The IFRC has released nearly 150,000 Swiss francs (7.2 million Philippine peso) from its Disaster Relief Emergency Fund to support the Philippine Red Cross scale up dengue treatment tents at ten hospitals and provide volunteer nursing staff to care for up to 15,000 patients and their family members. The Red Cross is targeting 300,000 people in at-risk communities with critical information on getting early treatment. Chris Staines, the Head of IFRC’s Philippines office said: “We need to work together to save lives and contain the outbreak which we fear will worsen during the monsoon. Dengue can be stopped in its tracks, but families need to protect themselves from mosquito bites and seek medical treatment if they experience any symptoms such as high fever, headaches, nausea and joint pains.” The current spike in dengue infections comes at the same time as the Philippines continues to deal with a deadly measles outbreak that has stretched healthcare capacities across the country. Elsewhere in South-East Asia, Red Cross teams in Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam are also responding to spiking dengue cases.

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