Palestine

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Statement: IFRC appalled by the killing of another Palestine Red Crescent colleague

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is appalled by the killing of another member of the network. Palestine Red Crescent Society (PRCS) volunteer paramedic Mohammed Awad Allah Musa was killed on Saturday, 20 April, while providing medical assistance to those wounded in the town of Al-Sawiya, Nablus district.Our thoughts and condolences go out to Mohammed Awad Allah Musa’s family, friends, loved ones, and colleagues at the PRCS on this horrific day. Since the beginning of the conflict, the Red Cross and Red Crescent network has lost 22 members. Eighteen staff members and volunteers of the PRCS have been killed in Gaza and now the West Bank and 4 from Magen David Adom in Israel (MDA).We repeat our call: humanitarian and healthcare workers must be respected and protected. It is a moral and legal obligation.

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Gaza: A family of volunteers, helping others while they themselves cope with the hard realities of conflict

“I wake up early at seven in the morning to attend to the family's needs, then head to the nearby market, which is one kilometer away. I search for something to feed my hungry children.”This is how a typical day starts for Youssef Khoder, a Palestine Red Crescent volunteer from northern Gaza. Youssef comes from a family of volunteers. His mother is an obstetrics nurse, his brother Mahmoud and Ibrahim are also both nurses.“We have been working at the PRCS medical point in Jabalia since its establishment,” he says. “We were displaced and had to move to a shelter center, but now the situation has changed, and we have returned to our homes.”After getting food at the market, Youssef and his wife start a fire to prepare food for their young children. The eldest daughter, Ayloul, is 6 years old. Mohammed is 4, and Ghaith is 2. Then Youssef is off to meet his brothers at the medical point in Jabalia.“We walk 2 kilometers back and forth every day to reach the medical point where we volunteer,” he says. “We carry out our work because it is our humanitarian duty, continuing to serve our people in northern Gaza.”A vital point for community health amid conflictThe medical point consists of a large tent, inside which there are about a dozen rolling hospital gurneys or beds. The medical post in Jabalia, in the Northern Gaza Strip, has remained operational and provided medical and health services to thousands of affected people even when key hospitals went out of service; it continues to provide services despite the shortage of medicine.While his brothers attend to patients, Youssef takes photos as part of his responsibilities documenting the work of his Palestine Red Crescent colleagues. This is important role in documenting the humanitarian needs as well as the reporting to the world what the Red Crescent is doing to try and address those needs.This is not as easy as it may seem. With power outages and damaged communications infrastructure, the simple act of sending the photographs to headquarters is not so simple."After the afternoon prayer, I walk one kilometer to a high-altitude location so I can catch a signal and gain internet access. I spend half an hour sending files to the administration before returning to the medical point. We spend an hour with colleagues before heading back, sometimes stopping by the market to get some food for suhoor and for the next day. However, food is scarce and the prices are very high."During Ramadan, all this was done while fasting from sun up to sun down. After work, they would return home before breaking their fast (iftar). "My family and I sit together. I break my fast with them, pray the Maghrib prayer, have tea, and then return to the medical point on foot. I work for a few hours before coming home late.Concerning food scarcity, it’s like we have been fasting for 6 months, so it’s not just during Ramadan.We continue to work with even greater determination than before, and we pray that we remain able to serve the people, and that Gaza’s dark days will soon pass.”

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Statement: IFRC mourns the loss of another Palestine Red Crescent staff member

It is with heavy hearts that we confirm the loss of another member of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) network. Palestine Red Crescent Society (PRCS) staff member Mohammed Abdul Latif Abu Saeed died on Thursday, 11 April, succumbing to wounds suffered during the 24 March evacuation of Al Amal Hospital in Khan Younis.Our thoughts and condolences go out to Mohammed Abdul Latif Abu Saeed’s family, friends, loved ones and colleagues at the PRCS on this most difficult of days. Since October, the Red Cross and Red Crescent network has lost 21 members. Seventeen staff members and volunteers of the PRCS have been killed and 4 from Magen David Adom in Israel (MDA).We repeat our call. Humanitarian and healthcare workers must be protected.

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IFRC statement on the closure of Al-Amal Hospital in Gaza

Geneva/Beirut, 26 March 2024Al-Amal Hospital and the Palestine Red Crescent Society (PRCS) headquarters in Khan Yunis has ceased functioning. For over 40 days, sustained hostilities in and around Al-Amal Hospital, have placed the lives of critical patients, injured civilians, medical staff, and PRCS teams in grave danger, transforming the hospital into a battleground when it should be a sanctuary.All PRCS staff and hundreds of critically injured and displaced people seeking refuge and treatment within its complex were forced to evacuate. These same people, already bearing the scars of displacement, face the daunting task of finding new shelters amidst the uncertainty.With the PRCS being a major provider of healthcare services in the Gaza Strip, the forced closures of both its operational hospitals, Al-Quds and now Al-Amal, have now rendered its critical healthcare services non-functional. The health services in northern Gaza have been largely destroyed, and the southern Gaza Strip’s healthcare system is on the brink of collapse. The cessation of operations in most northern hospitals, due to acute fuel shortages, absence of medicines, and medical equipment, coupled with the lack of safe access, has been catastrophic. The forced closure of Al-Amal Hospital, one of the few remaining medical facilities in the south, has profound implications, leaving countless lives at risk.Marked clearly with the red crescent emblem, Al-Amal Hospital is protected under International Humanitarian Law. The Red Cross, Red Crescent, and Red Crystal emblems represent neutrality and impartial humanitarian assistance, promising protection in times of conflict and disaster.We call on all parties to adhere to their obligations under International Humanitarian Law, ensuring the protection of civilians, healthcare workers, and facilities. We call for rapid and unimpeded passage for humanitarian aid, and safe and unhindered access for humanitarian workers.The IFRC stands in solidarity with the PRCS, advocating for the protection of all medical facilities and personnel. We honor the courage of PRCS volunteers and paramedics, many of whom have faced personal loss or detention, yet remain unwavering in their selfless response to those in need. Since the beginning of the conflict, we have lost 18 members of our network: 15 from PRCS and three from Magen David Adom. Any attack on healthcare workers, ambulances, and medical facilities is unacceptable.In the midst of conflict, access to healthcare is not just a necessity—it is a matter of life and death. The people of Gaza have endured unimaginable suffering; healthcare remains one of their last bastions of hope.For more information, contact: [email protected] Beirut:Mey Alsayegh: +961 3 229 352In Geneva:Mrinalini Santhanam: +41 76 381 50 06Andrew Thomas: +41 76 367 65 87

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Palestine: In the chaos, they lost contact. Now they know he's safe, but the future is uncertain.

The people next door: An ongoing series about people helping others even as they face the very same strugglesLast month we shared the story of Amr Ali, a media officer for the Palestine Red Crescent who like thousands of others in Gaza had to flee their homes due to conflict. In that story, Amr shared his frustrations about wanting to help other people, but not knowing what to tell them.“They asked me ‘what should we do?” he recalled. “Where should we go and how can we protect our children?’ I couldn’t answer them because I have the same questions.”Amr had left northern Gaza with his family, temporarily moving to his brother’s house in Khan Yunis. When that city was evacuated, the Palestine Red Crescent lost touch with Amr. With much of Gaza’s infrastructure destroyed, blackouts made communication nearly impossible.But recently Amr was able to get back in touch and update his colleagues via text messages. Amr had joined thousands of others who moved south to find relative safety in a camp near the border town of Rafah. His journey and life in camp offer a glimpse into the fear, chaos and stuggles facing many thousands of people living in those camps.‘The worst time ever’Knowing they would need to cross a series of check points, Amr and his family left Khan Yunis early in the day on Jan. 27. There was bombing on the way and in the chaos and explosions, Amr was separated from his wife and children: 7-year-old Adam, and 3-year-old Maria.They couldn’t find each other in the crowds. There was no cell phone, wifi, or other signal.“This was the worst time ever,” Amr recalls. “For more than 12 hours I had no idea about my wife and my kids. I tried to ask hospitals if they got injured or killed.”Because the signal is so bad, Amr used friends and relatives in the West Bank as to relay messages. Just after 10 p.m. he got the call. Some relatives had spotted his family, and took them in. Everyone was okay.“It was very, very unsafe, but we managed to get to Rafah,” Amr said.‘Nothing set up here’As a media officer, Amr used to take pictures of Palestine Red Crescent staff and volunteers responding to the conflict unfolding around them: dispatch crews working in the dark because lights had gone out, food distributions and ambulance crews returning to the hospital.Now his photos reflect life in the camp with his son and his daughter, his attempt to keep a smile despite the tragedy and to reclaim some sense of normalcy and hope for his children.“It’s not easy at all to move from a well-equipped house to a very far place in a tent where is nothing set up.”Here, he says they make everything by hand, setting up a bathroom, kitchen, places to sleep and a system to store water. Access to food remains difficult, costs have jumped three and four times since the beginning of the conflict.Meat was $12USD before, now it’s more than $40 — if it’s available at all. Amr says his family cannot afford that, so they eat canned foods.The sound of bombsMeanwhile, Amr’s children are struggling. His son Adam lost his friend after an explosion across the street damaged the house he was staying in. Maria is confused as to why they have to keep moving.Amr says for a short time it was quiet in Rafah.“For a while we rarely heard the sound of bombs and shelling,” he said.But that can change in a moment. In February explosions and gunshots were heard across the city.“Living in a tent in such situations is very terrifying. You feel every bullet is directed to your body. We were terrified and each of us went to check on our children and loved ones. Living all this while in a tent made of fabric makes you feel like the weakest creature on earth.”Mostly, now Amr thinks about the future. “We keep talking about what happened earlier and where will we stay after the conflict ends. I believe that all of us will continue our life in tents and all this will last for a long time, maybe years,” he says.“I do not want my children to continue dreaming about the scene of soldiers, tanks, shooting and the terrifying sound of bombing.”Meanwhile, the Palestine Red Crescent Society staff and volunteers continue to provide medical care in hospitals and medical posts, ambulance services, public health messaging, and psychosocial support to people in Gaza.Teams are also coordinating the reception and distribution of life-saving aid, such as food, water, medicine, and other emergency items. They do this despite worrying for the suffering of their families and living in the difficult conditions themselves.

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'Even in the darkest moments, women are strong and perseverant.’

As the media officer and spokesperson for the Palestine Red Crescent Society, Nebal Farsakh has been the voice of the Palestine Red Crescent during one of its most difficult and darkest times.To television viewers, social media followers and radio listeners around the world, Farsakh’s face, posts and voice have brought the daily — and often deadly — humanitarian challenges facing the people Gaza and her colleagues into stark relief.On the occasion of International Women’s Day, we asked Nebal Farsakh to reflect on the role women are playing in the humanitarian response, as well as her own approach to living as a woman professional during a devestating conflict.“I believe that women are capable of anything, and this is really my approach to life.I am married and have a ten-year-old son and a four-year-old daughter. As a family, we do not have stereotypes about women; my husband helps me with household chores and taking care of the children.And of course, I try to convey this to my children as well, meaning that I teach my son how to behave with his sister, and not to ask her to ‘serve him’. I am keen on having equality between them, and I emphasize that women should defend their full rights, whether the right to education or inheritance or other rights.On the professional side, I am breaking gender stereotypes through my work as the media officer and spokesperson for the Palestine Red Crescent Society. Some may think that women are not strong enough, or unable to work long hours or be available outside of working hours, but I have been working tirelessly since the war on Gaza started five months ago, appearing in the media, spreading news, and trying to be a source of support and a listening ear for my colleagues in Gaza.Shattering stereotypesThe war on Gaza confirmed to me that the volunteers and female employees of the Palestine Red Crescent are a perfect example of women who shatter stereotypes. We have female paramedics who are present in the field, providing first aid and medical support, despite the dangers and difficulties.For example, one paramedic continued her life-saving work despite her husband being detained, and despite all the other challenges, such as providing food and drinking water for her children. She was strong and powerful enough to carry out her humanitarian mission.And our colleague Hidaya Hamad, who was killed while she was in her office at the Palestine Red Crescent Society headquarters. Huda, who was the director of volunteers, was present at the Amal Hospital until the very last moment; she was a source of support and strength for the volunteers and her colleagues until her last breath.Hidaya, and the female employees and volunteers of the Palestine Red Crescent are the best example of women being strong, and capable of breaking gender stereotypes. Even in the darkest moments, women are strong and perseverant, not just men.”

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Islamic humanitarian giving

As the world’s largest network of locally based humanitarian organizations and volunteers, the IFRC is uniquely positioned to ensure your Zakat or Sadaqah donation reaches the people and communities who need it most. Fully accredited for receiving Zakat donations, we are based in communities alongside those we support. We act before, during and after disasters and health emergencies to meet the needs of, and improve the lives of, vulnerable people—reaching millions every year.

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Gaza: His job is to tell their story. Now their pain is his story too.

The people next door: An ongoing series about people helping others even as they face the very same strugglesEvery day, Amr would normally wake up knowing he first must secure food and water for himself and his family. Then, he heads to work.Amr Ali is a media officer at the Palestine Red Crescent Society (PRCS). Much like every other citizen in Gaza, he also struggles to protect his family and make decisions regarding what to do next, or how to act, in the ongoing armed violence.As part of his job, Amr documents PRCS’s activities, such as the emergency response and the distribution of food, water, and relief items.“I was talking to some people who are currently taking shelter in the PRCS building,” said Amr via WhatsApp messages.“They asked me ‘what should we do? where should we go and how can we protect our children?’ I couldn’t answer them because I have the same questions.”Stories of lossAs part of his work, Amr tries to highlight rights violations and the suffering of people in Gaza; he listens to the staff and displaced people staying at PRCS headquarters – stories of loss, injury, evacuation and displacement.“There are so many tragic stories that have been engraved in my memory, from scenes that I’ve witnessed during my response to injured people in need, the dead and their families; these scenes will never be erased from my memory. I’m struggling with insomnia because I fear that my loved ones may suffer the same fate,” he said.Amr has heard stories from friends, of them forced to walk for hours from Gaza City, in the north, to the south of the Gaza Strip, of how there were explosions along the way, and how they had to turn back the first time they tried to flee.“My friend’s sister was terrified and she unable to move at the time. He had to help her walk while also helping his three young children,” Amr said. The whole family eventually made it.On the moveDue to the conflict, Amr also left the north with his family, and temporarily moved to his brother’s house in Khan Yunis, where 30 other people were also staying.He doesn’t know anything about the current state of his home, and the last update he received was a picture showing that his house was partially damaged. However, it’s not his house he’s most concerned about, it’s the children.“It’s very bad for the children.” he said. “They are afraid and don’t know what is happening or why it’s happening. I try to play with them, and I make loud noises to distract them from what’s happening outside.”“A few days ago, my kid asked me to make him a sandwich, because he was starving. I couldn’t make him anything because we had no flour, no bread, and no biscuits” he said.“I feel like a useless father who cannot do the simplest thing for his son.”Falling off the radarAs the situation worsened, Amr and his family had to travel further south, where they don’t know anyone and have nowhere to stay. The family is currently living in a tent.And like many caught up in the crisis, Amr has fallen out of touch. The destruction of infrastructure and the ensuing communications blackouts has made communication nearly impossible — even for a communications specialist like Amr. Recent attempts to reach out to Amr to check up on him and request some of his photographic work in Gaza were unsuccessful.Amr’s situation is playing out in homes across Gaza Strip, as food and water become scarcer, and infections are on the rise. Ongoing fighting has left families struggling with what to do next.The Palestine Red Crescent Society staff and volunteers are providing medical care in hospitals and medical posts, ambulance services, public health messaging, and psychosocial support to people in Gaza. Teams are also coordinating the reception and distribution of life-saving aid, such as food, water, medicine, and other emergency items. They do this despite worrying for the suffering of their families and living in the difficult conditions themselves.

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IFRC on three Palestine Red Crescent members killed: 'Unacceptable'.

Geneva, 02 February 2024:The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is shocked and deeply saddened by the killing of three members of the Palestine Red Crescent Society (PRCS) in the Gaza Strip - one staff member and one volunteer on 31 January 2024 and one staff member on 2 February 2024.In the first incident, two colleagues, Naeem Hasan Al-Jabali and Khalid Kulab, were both near the gate of the PRCS Al-Amal Hospital in Khan Younis when they were killed. Today, Hedaya Hamad was killed at the PRCS headquarters, which is in the same compound as the Al-Amal hospital.These deaths came after several days of shelling and fighting around the hospital which hindered access to the premises and created panic and distress among patients and thousands of displaced people.The IFRC sends its deepest condolences to the families of those killed and to their friends and colleagues at the Palestine Red Crescent Society.Under International Humanitarian Law, hospitals, ambulances, healthcare workers, and their patients must be respected and protected in every situation.Any attack on healthcare workers, ambulances, and medical facilities is unacceptable.We strongly reiterate our call for unwavering respect for the Red Cross, Red Crescent and Red Crystal emblems and the crucial humanitarian services they represent.The IFRC stands with the PRCS, urging protection for all medical facilities and workers. We commend the dedication of PRCS volunteers and paramedics, many of whom have lost family members or been affected yet continue to respond.Since the beginning of the conflict, the IFRC network has lost 14 members. Eleven PRCS staff and volunteers have been killed, and three from Israel’s Magen David Adom. This is unacceptable.For more information or to request an interview, contact:[email protected] Beirut:Mey Al Sayegh: +961 761 74468In Geneva:Tommaso Della Longa +41797084367Mrinalini Santhanam +41 76 381 5006Andrew Thomas +41 76 367 6587

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Statement: IFRC condemns the attacks on Al-Amal Hospital and urges increased respect for the protective Red Crescent emblem

Geneva/Beirut, 5 January 2024 The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is appalled by the continuous shelling of the Al-Amal Hospital and the Palestine Red Crescent Society (PRCS) headquarters in Khan Yunis. These strikes have led to the loss of innocent civilian lives, including a five-day old infant, and displaced thousands who were taking shelter at the hospital. One of our colleagues, a volunteer from the PRCS emergency medical services was injured in the strike, which is in addition to the 26 who have been injured since the beginning of the escalation of hostilities and the four colleagues who have tragically lost their lives in the line of duty. After the north of Gaza health services were largely destroyed, the health care system in the southern part of the Gaza Strip is on the brink of collapse. Most hospitals in the north, including PRCS's Al-Quds hospital, have ceased operations due to fuel shortages, lack of medicines, medical equipment, and safe access. Al-Amal Hospital, one of the few still functioning in the south, is duly marked by the Red Crescent emblem. The Red Cross, Red Crescent and Red Crystal emblems, symbolize neutral and independent humanitarian assistance at all times, and guarantee protection in times of conflict and disaster around the world. Continuous shelling, coupled with a dire shortage of fuel and supplies, has pushed the health facility to its limits. The continuous bombardments have disrupted PRCS ambulances and paramedics, hindering vital medical aid and basic lifesaving emergency care. Access to medical care is a basic right, and blocking these services is unacceptable. The IFRC stands with the PRCS, urging protection for all medical facilities and workers. We commend the bravery of PRCS volunteers and paramedics, many of whom have lost family members or been detained, yet continue to respond selflessly. We call on all parties to uphold their obligations under International Humanitarian Law. That means the protection of civilians, healthcare workers, and facilities. We call for rapid and unimpeded passage for humanitarian aid, and safe and unhindered access for humanitarian workers. In any conflict or crisis, access to health care is a question of life or death. People in Gaza have suffered enough, and healthcare is one of the last remaining beacons of hope. It’s a humanitarian and moral imperative to ensure the people of Gaza can access health care during this period of intense conflict. More information, contact [email protected] In Beirut: Mey Alsayegh: +961 3 229 352 In Geneva: Tommaso Della Longa: +41 79 708 43 67 Mrinalini Santhanam: +41 76 381 50 06

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From bombing to blackouts: Palestine Red Crescent teams navigate life-and-death challenges to save lives

Ever since armed violence erupted in Israel and the Gaza Strip on October 7, the work of emergency service crews has continued non-stop, often in the most harrowing of circumstances.Every day, Palestine Red Crescent Society (PRCS) ambulance crews head out into the streets of Gaza, saving lives while risking their own, as even ambulances and hospitals have come under attack.Since the beginning, PRCS teams have been tirelessly responding, providing first aid and psychosocial support, transporting the dead and distributing essential aid as the fighting continues.Sadly, four PRCS volunteers lost their lives while on duty, making their colleagues’ work even more difficult as they try to cope with the loss.“To be completely honest, I am afraid, much like everyone else,” Haitham Deir, a PRCS paramedic working at the Rafah branch. “I left my children at home with no access to food, water or electricity. When I’m on duty, I call them periodically to check on them, and this constant worrying is overwhelming, adding to the fact that we face gunfire and constant bombing, and some of us get injured or die.“All of these challenges take a toll on our psychological well-being. Nevertheless, we persist. It’s a moral obligation, and I will continue to work until the very end.”‘Our eyes and ears’Apart from the incessant bombing and gunfire, PRCS crews have been struggling with intermittent communications blackouts, which means there’s often no way for people to call in for an ambulance when there is an attack.This has heavily obstructed their response. However, the PRCS ambulance teams have found creative ways to ensure paramedics can find people when there is an urgent need.“We strategically placed our ambulances, and we had to use our eyes and ears to watch out for bombings,” says Mohammed Abu Musabih, director of operations and emergencies for the PRCS in the Gaza strip. “Teams were then dispatched to areas that were bombed, because that’s where people will most likely need assistance.”“We also placed ambulances near hospitals, and we relied on arriving ambulances carrying injured people to give us information about the location they came from,” he continued. “The ambulance crews then headed off to the location.” Unfortunately, in most cases, even the most creative attempts have been ineffective as PRCS teams find it extremely difficult to reach people in need due to infrastructure damage, roadblocks and military sieges going on in various parts of the city.Supplies running out, winter coming onThe situation inside Gaza hospitals has been all the more tragic, with doctors and nurses resorting to traditional medicine as supplies ran out. Many hospitals were forced to suspend their services due to lack of fuel.Thousands of Palestinians have also sought refuge in hospitals, but after coming under siege, many people - including the sick and wounded - had to evacuate, with nowhere to go.A great deal of affected people in Gaza are currently living in tents or open spaces; this leaves them extremely vulnerable as winter approaches, and with it comes the threat of flooding and the potential spread of disease. PRCS ambulance crews and other volunteers will be there doing whatever they can to ensure people get the best possible care under the circumstances.As of December 11, PRCS crews have provided emergency care to more than 11,000 people and they transported the bodies of more than 3,500 people who died due to the fighting. Crews in the West Bank have cared for more than 3,000 injuries and transported more than 80 people killed in the conflict.“Ever since the hostilities began, the Palestine Red Crescent Society teams and volunteers were on the frontline saving lives, day-in and day out, with no break,” says Hossam Elsharkawi, regional director for Middle East and North Africa.“The unprecedented level of challenges they faced is beyond comprehension. We highly salute them; they have shown humanity at its best. In parallel, we call on the international community to fast-track diplomatic solutions that address root causes, including an end to the inhumane siege on Gaza, and enable more humanitarian aid to get into all parts of Gaza, including fuel.”

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The IFRC calls for safe and unhindered access across the Gaza Strip and the release of hostages

A month since the onsetof violence across Israel and Palestine, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) calls forsafe and unhindered access across the Gaza Stripand the release of hostages seized during the conflict. It also calls upon the diplomatic community to accelerate efforts towards a longer-term peace agreement and a massive scaling up of humanitarian assistance, including fuel. The Magen David Adom (MDA) in Israel and the Palestine Red Crescent Society (PRCS) in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, both members of the IFRC network, have been responding since the beginning of the hostilities. Staff and volunteers of both National Societies have been at the forefront of humanitarian efforts. And they have seen the violence firsthand. Many have lost friends and family members. Seven members, three of MDA and four of PRCS, have lost their own lives while helping others; many more have been injured. The IFRC repeats its calls for all parties to respect International Humanitarian Law and immediately cease indiscriminate attacks. That means the protection of civilians, healthcare workers and facilities,humanitarian first responders, the immediate and unconditional release of hostages, rapid and unimpeded passage for humanitarian aid, including fuel, throughout the entire Gaza Strip and safe and unhindered access for humanitarian workers. Civilians, humanitarian aid workers, hospitals and ambulances are not targets and must be protected. It is not possible to evacuate patients and those who care for themfromhospitals; we ask for an end to demands to the contrary. The last month has been the most devastating period of violence ever across Israel and Palestine, killing around twelve thousand people and gravely injuring many more, mostly women and children. The siege of Gaza has caused immense suffering to more than two million people. Both the violence and the siege need to end. We call on all parties forsafe and unhindered access across the Gaza Stripand the release of hostages. Now.

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Israel / Palestine conflict: our response so far 

As the escalation of hostilities in Israel and Palestine enters its ­­fourth ­­month, the conflict continues to take the lives of civilians, disrupt the delivery of life-saving medical care, interrupt critical services that people rely on to survive, and leave families grieving the loss of loved ones. The IFRC has called on all parties for humanitarian access across Gaza and West Bank, the release of hostages, the protection of civilians, hospitals and humanitarian workers from indiscriminate attack and compliance with international humanitarian law. Among those killed have been humanitarian aid and health workers who lost their lives while trying to save others, as well as people seeking safety and care at health facilities. IFRC and National Society response Meanwhile, IFRC member National Societies in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories continue to respond to urgent humanitarian needs and to provide life-saving assistance and other essential services. The IFRC, meanwhile, is supporting its National Societies Magen David Adom in Israel and the Palestinian Red Crescent in their on-going, live-saving work. Israel Magen David Adom in Israel (MDA) has been supporting affected communities since the beginning, with ambulance and medical services on call 24/7. Staff and volunteers have been working tirelessly, putting their lives and well-being in harm's way to tend to the wounded and deceased. A total of 1,500 ambulances and 10,000 first responders (EMTs and paramedics) have been mobilized. Since 7 October, they have treated over 4,000 patients. These staff members and volunteers have been working under difficult and dangerous circumstances. Tragically, several volunteers and staff have died in line of duty, killed while treating patients. Several others also suffered major or minor injuries while on duty. Ambulances have also come under attack at various times during the hostilities. The MDA has also supported the Ministry of Health in the transfer of patients and the evacuation of bed-ridden people close to the border. MDA is also helping communities prepare in case of further escalation. For example, the National Society offers free, first-aid training focusing on trauma care. It has also gathered, tested and processed over 50,000 units of blood to supply ambulances, mobile intensive care units, hospitals and clinics. Palestine As the humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip continues to worsen, Palestine Red Crescent Society (PRCS) teams are working around the clock in extremely difficult and dangerous circumstances. Already, several PRCS volunteers have been killed in the escalating violence. Most recently, on 10 January 2024, four PRCS ambulance crew members were killed along with two patients when their ambulance was hit. Earlier in January, continuous shelling near the Al-Amal Hospital and PRCS headquarters in Khan Yunis also resulted in several casualties, including a 5-day old baby, and displaced thousands who were seeking refuge at the hospital. Read the IFRC’s statement condemining the attacks here. In the meantime, the combination of shelling around health care facilities — along with a lack of supplies and fuel, power and communications outages, damage to infrastructure and mounting demand — is pushing Gaza’s severely damaged health services to the brink of collapse. For the people of Gaza, there are also drastic shortages of critical basic necessities, such as fuel, water, food and medical supplies. These shortages have also pushed PRCS Emergency Medical Service (EMS) centers to their limits. By late December, two PRCS EMS centers in Gaza and Northern Gaza were out of service, unable to provide emergency response and rescue services due to fuel shortages and restricted access. Hospitals in the North are also non-functional, making humanitarian evacuations impossible. The IFRC commends the bravery of PRCS volunteers and paramedics, many of whom have lost family members or been detained, yet continue to respond selflessly. Life-saving care continues Despite the challenges, PRCS has continued to provide critical, life-saving care. In the Gaza Strip, the PRCS has provided emergency medical care to ­­­roughly 15,000 injured people as of 5 January, 2024. PRCS ambulance crews have also responded following the deaths of more than 5,000 people killed due to the conflict. This life-saving work is being done in the face of regular power and communications blackouts as well as the extreme danger posed by the on-going conflict. Since the beginning of hostilities, PRCS teams have reported shelling very close to their hospitals, ambulance center, main warehouse, and headquarters causing injuries, damaging the buildings and restricting access to the hospitals. Meanwhile, PRCS staff have also distributed relief items to internally displaced families in temporary shelters and at their hospitals. Aid items include food parcels, milk, blankets, mattresses, water as well as some hygiene kits, kitchen sets, and baby necessities. In the West Bank, PRCS has provided emergency medical care to more than 3,700 injured people. Ambulance crews have also transported more than 115 people killed in the fighting. Aid delivery to Gaza so far As of December 31, 2023, more than 5,200 trucks containing medical supplies, food, water and hygiene products were delivered to Gaza and distributed by PRCS and UNRWA. Notably, more than 300 truckloads of humanitarian aid entered North Gaza during a humanitarian pause, while 81 ambulances were also distributed. Following an earlier blockage on all fuel imports,fuel and cooking gas has also been supplied to Gaza, however it still falls far short of what is needed for daily life, basic services and humanitarian response. The Egyptian Red Crescent (ERCS) is at the forefront of the humanitarian response in Gaza, with support from over 39 countries and UN agencies. ERCS volunteers work tirelessly in shifts to ensure that aid is sorted and repackaged for entry into Gaza. In collaboration with PRCS, ERCS is also helping to establish a camp in Al-Mawasi, Khan Younis, to house displaced people. Additionally, the Qatari Red Crescent is working with PRCS to set up a field hospital in Rafah that will include 50 beds, an ICU, and an operating room. But the aid that has been received is only a drop in the ocean considering the immense needs of Gaza’s two million people. Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Egypt In view of the scale of likely needs and in order to complement the PRCS’s response efforts outlined in their appeal, the IFRC will enhance the capacities to respond through an Emergency Appeal by coordinating the response in neighbouring countries to the occupied Palestine Territories. The IFRC will be supporting – in close coordination with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) - the response of its membership, as significant humanitarian actors in their own geographies, and strengthen their organizational capacities. The IFRC also launched this Emergency Appeal, the IFRC and its membership seek CHF 30 million (CHF 20 million of which is expected to be raised by the IFRC Secretariat)to support the Lebanese Red Cross, Egyptian Red Crescent, Syrian Arab Red Crescent and Jordanian Red Crescent in preparing and strengthening their response readiness to the potential escalation of hostilities in the region and subsequent humanitarian needs. On 13, October, the IFRC also allocated CHF 1 million from its Disaster Emergency Relief Fund to support a wide range of humanitarian assistance in the occupied Palestinian territories impacted by the hostilities. The highest price Since the escalation of hostilities began on 7 October, the IFRC has decried the fact that civilians are paying the “highest price” in the hostilities and has called on all parties to allow humanitarian organizations to safely access and support people impacted by the crisis. In a joint statement on 14 October, IFRC Secretary General Jagan Chapagain and ICRC Director General Robert Mardini said they were “appalled to see the human misery that has unfolded” and that “civilians - including women and children, the elderly, and the wounded and sick - are currently paying the highest price.” “Human suffering is happening on all sides,” the statement said. “And it is always devastating. The death of a son or daughter, a sibling, a parent, is a human tragedy no matter where it happens or who it happens to. Civilian life must be protected on all sides.” The IFRC governing board, which includes National Society leaders from all parts of the globe, also expressed its shock and horror at the “growing humanitarian needs and the mounting loss of life” in a special statement released on 20 October. “This situation underscores the critical importance of access to all civilians, including those held hostage,” the statement continued. Since that time, the IFRC has continued to raise the alarm about an increasingly dire situation. In early November, the IFRC called for “safe and unhindered access across the Gaza Strip and the release of hostages” and most recently, the IFRC released a statement on 5 January 2024 condemning the continuous shelling near the Al-Amal Hospital and PRCS headquarters in Khan Yunis that led to “the loss of innocent civilian lives.” Media enquiries If you are a journalist and would like more information or to request an interview about this emergency, please email [email protected]. Follow these Twitter accounts for the latest updates @IFRC @IFRC_MENA @elsharkawi - IFRC MENA Regional Director, Hossam Elsharkawi @IFRC_Europe @BirgitteEbbesen - IFRC Regional Director for Europe, Birgitte Ebbesen

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IFRC is horrified and dismayed by the loss of life at the hospital in North Gaza

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is horrified and dismayed by the tragic events that unfolded at the Al Ahli Arab Hospital in North Gaza on the evening of 17 October 2023. Hospitals are places of help and refuge; they must be protected at all costs. This is not just a moral obligation but also a legal imperative. Hospitals should be sanctuaries for all, where healthcare workers and civilians alike can seek safety and care. IFRC leadership responds Jagan Chapagain, Secretary General of IFRC, expressed his profound concern, saying, "I'm horrified and dismayed by what's happened at the Al Ahli Hospital in #Gaza. Hospitals are places of help and refuge. They must be protected. It's a moral and legal imperative." Jagan Chapagain Secretary General, IFRC Francesco Rocca, President of IFRC, echoed these sentiments, stating, “Horrified by what happened at the Al Ahli Arab Hospital in Gaza. The hospital was full of patients and people seeking protection. Civilians, healthcare workers and facilities are protected under international humanitarian law. Even war has rules!” Francesco Rocca President, IFRC Call for humanity The humanitarian crisis in Gaza is catastrophic. With hospitals overwhelmed and medicines running out, fuel, water, and food are in short supply. We urge everyone to exercise restraint, adhere to humanitarian law, and protect civilians. We cannot stress this further. Civilian lives must be protected. Hospitals, doctors and nurses must also be protected. Further statements We issued a joint statement from Jagan Chapagain, Secretary General of the IFRC, and Robert Mardini, Director General of the ICRC, on the escalation of hostilities in Israel and Gaza on 14 October 2023. Read the joint statement. We are also devastated to confirm the deaths of seven members of our network due to the armed hostilities in Israel and the Gaza Strip. Read the statement published on 11 October 2023 (the number was five at the time of the statement). Stay informed For real-time updates on the current situation and to gain further insights, we invite you to listen to the latest weekly Red Cross and Red Crescent X (formerly Twitter) Spaces. For media interviews, please write to [email protected].

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National Society Investment Alliance funding announcement 2023

The National Society Investment Alliance (NSIA) is a pooled funding mechanism, run jointly by the IFRC and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). The NSIA provides flexible, multi-year funding to support the long-term development of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies so they can increase the reach and impact of their humanitarian services. It focuses on supporting National Societies operating in complex emergencies, protracted crises and fragile contexts. The NSIA can award up to one million Swiss francs of Accelerator funding to National Societies in fragile contexts over a maximum of five years. In addition, Bridge grants of up to 50,000 Swiss francs over 12 months can help National Societies lay the ground for future investment from the NSIA or from other National Societies Development (NSD) support initiatives. In 2023, the NSIA Office received 27 eligible proposals: 14 for Accelerator funding and 13 for Bridge grants. Having reviewed all applications and following up the decision of the Steering Committee, the NSIA Office is pleased to announce that the following four National Societies have been selected for Accelerator funding in 2023: Ecuadorian Red Cross Myanmar Red Cross Society Red Cross Society of Niger The Palestine Red Crescent Society These National Societies will receive a significant investment to help accelerate their journey towards long-term sustainability. Three of these National Societies (Myanmar, Niger and Palestine) previously received NSIA Bridge grants, proving once again the relevance of the fund’s phased approach. The Myanmar Red Cross Society will proceed with the decentralization of its commercial first aid program after designing a strategy and a business model with the bridge grant. The Red Cross Society of Niger plans to develop the resource mobilization capacities of its branches after a pilot phase and to boost their volunteer base. The Palestine Red Crescent Society, having developed an investment strategy with a previous bridge grant, will improve access to healthcare services by implementing a health management information system. The Ecuadorian Red Cross plans to develop a new internal system to better manage important parts of their work - including HR, volunteer, financial management and logistics. The NSIA will fund the first phase of implementation of this system. 15 other National Societies will receive Bridge grants (up to 50,000 Swiss francs): Bolivia, Burkina Faso, Central Africa, Côte d’Ivoire, El Salvador, Honduras, Liberia, Philippines, Rwanda, Somalia, South Africa, Tajikistan, Tanzania, Togo and Zimbabwe. Most Bridge initiatives will focus on developing business plans and strategies for resource mobilization (57 per cent) followed by branch development (21%). The National Societies’ projects will also focus on other themes such as volunteer development, youth engagement, digital transformation and governance are also identified. In total, the NSIA will allocate 3.2 million Swiss francs to the 19 different National Societies this year. The NSIA Office also takes this opportunity to thank the generous support from the governments of Switzerland, the United States, and Norway, and from the Norwegian and Netherlands’ Red Cross Societies, as well as the ICRC and IFRC, for their continuous commitment and contribution to the fund. The NSIA remains a strategic instrument for National Societies in fragile settings. The Nigerian Red Cross Society (NRCS) has been implementing a NSIA accelerator initiative since 2021. Mr. Abubakar Kende, NRCS Secretary General explains: “The NSIA has played a pivotal role in the success and expansion of the Nigerian Red Cross Society's commercial first aid training program. The financial and technical support and resources provided have significantly improved the overall impact, reach and quality of our Workplace First Aid training by developing advanced training products to bring us up-to-date with international best practices. The NSIA Accelerator Grant has been an invaluable asset for the development of the Nigerian Red Cross Society through strategic investments, expert guidance, and the introduction of additional revenue-generating streams that contribute to its long-term financial sustainability. This enables the National Society to fulfil its humanitarian mission and positively impact the lives of vulnerable communities across Nigeria. We are immensely grateful for the partnership so far with NSIA and look forward to continuing our shared mission of building a more prepared and resilient Nigeria. This cooperation and support has enabled NRCS to establish a solid foundation for growth and financial sustainability at both National Headquarters and the Branches, which we intend to scale up over the next coming years.” For more information, pleasevisit the NSIA webpage.

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Joint Statement from Jagan Chapagain, Secretary General of the IFRC and Robert Mardini, Director General of the ICRC, on the escalation of hostilities in Israel and Gaza.

Geneva,14 October 2023 – The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movementis appalled to see the human misery that has unfolded over the last week in Israel and Gaza. Civilians - including women and children, the elderly, and the wounded and sick - are currently paying the highest price. Nothing can justify the horrific loss of civilian lives in Israel last weekend. Our hearts go out to people who lost family members or are anxiously awaiting news about their missing loved ones, which they should receive without delay.But such tragedy cannot in turn justify the limitless destruction of Gaza. We are deeply alarmed by the call for relocation in Gaza. Our volunteers refuse to leave and abandon those who need them most. They must be protected so that they can protect others. Human suffering is happening on all sides. And it is always devastating. The death of a son or daughter, a sibling, a parent, is a human tragedy no matter where it happens or who it happens to. Civilian life must be protected on all sides. In international humanitarian law – the law of armed conflict – there is no hierarchy in pain and suffering. These rules exist to help preserve humanity in the darkest moments, and they desperately need to be followed today. They are and should remain our compass to ensure that we put humanity first. The Palestine Red Crescent Society and The Magen David Adom in Israel have been working around the clock to provide critical assistance, including ambulance and health services, to those affected. Their staff and volunteers are risking their lives every day to save others. Just this week, we have lost colleagues from both National Societies, who were killed in the line of duty, carrying out life-saving humanitarian work. This is a tragic reminder of the dangers humanitarian and medical workers face and we offer our deepest condolences to their families, friends and colleagues. We reiterate our call that humanitarian workers must be protected. The Movement is committed to continuing to provide protection and life-saving relief to the people suffering the horrors of the ongoing violence. To do so, our teams need to be able to operate safely. Humanitarian organizations must be given the access to do their work to alleviate the growing human suffering. The needs are staggering and will only continue to increase if the hostilities persist. We call on all parties to exercise restraint, to abide by their obligations under international humanitarian law, and to protect civilians – which must remain at the core of everything we do. Russian Совместное заявление Джагана Чапагайна, генерального секретаря Международной Федерации обществ Красного Креста и Красного Полумесяца, и Роберта Мардини, генерального директора Международного Комитета Красного Креста, в связи с эскалацией военных действий в Израиле и секторе Газа. 14 октября 2023 г. Женева – Международное движение Красного Креста и Красного Полумесяца потрясено человеческими страданиями, захлестнувшими в прошедшую неделю Израиль и сектор Газа. Самую высокую цену сейчас платит гражданское население — в том числе женщины и дети, старики, раненые и больные. Ничто не может оправдать чудовищные потери среди мирных жителей в Израиле в прошлые выходные. Мы от всей души сочувствуем тем, кто потерял родных или с тревогой ждет известий о пропавших без вести близких — известий, которые они должны получить без промедления. Однако эта трагедия не может в свою очередь служить оправданием безоглядному разрушению Газы. Мы глубоко обеспокоены призывом к перемещению населения Газы. Наши добровольцы отказываются уезжать и бросать тех, кто больше всего в них нуждается. Им нужна защита, чтобы они могли защищать других. Люди страдают одинаково, к какой бы стороне они ни принадлежали. Их горе всегда мучительно. Смерть сына или дочери, брата или сестры, отца или матери — всегда трагедия, где бы и с кем бы она ни происходила. Защитой должна пользоваться жизнь гражданских лиц всех сторон. В международном гуманитарном праве — праве вооруженных конфликтов — не существует иерархии боли и страданий. Эти нормы созданы, чтобы помочь людям сохранять человечность в самые мрачные времена, и сегодня их крайне необходимо соблюдать. Мы должны сейчас и впредь руководствоваться ими, чтобы гуманность всегда оставалась на первом месте. Палестинское общество Красного Полумесяца и израильское общество «Маген Давид Адом», включая их службы скорой помощи, работают сутками напролет, оказывая пострадавшим незаменимую помощь, медицинскую и иную. Их сотрудники и добровольцы каждый день рискуют жизнью для спасения других. На одной только этой неделе мы потеряли коллег из обоих национальных обществ — они были убиты при исполнении своих обязанностей, в ходе гуманитарной работы по спасению людей. Это трагическое напоминание об опасностях, которым подвергаются гуманитарные и медицинские работники, и мы приносим глубочайшие соболезнования их семьям, друзьям и коллегам. Мы вновь повторяем свой призыв защищать гуманитарных работников. Движение полно решимости и дальше предоставлять защиту и спасительную помощь людям, переживающим ужасы неослабевающего насилия. Для этого нам нужна возможность действовать в безопасности. Гуманитарным организациям должен быть предоставлен соответствующий доступ, чтобы они могли делать свою работу, облегчая растущие человеческие страдания. Потребности людей огромны и будут только расти, если военные действия не прекратятся. Мы призываем все стороны проявлять сдержанность, соблюдать свои обязательства по международному гуманитарному праву и защищать гражданских лиц, о которых мы всегда должны заботиться в первую очередь.

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National Society Investment Alliance: Funding announcement 2022

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.

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IFRC is extremely concerned about the worsening humanitarian situation in Palestine

West Bank / Gaza / Geneva 12 November 2021 – The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is extremely concerned about the worsening humanitarian situation in Palestine. Palestinians are facing a multitude of crises, including persistent escalations of violence, a socio-economic breakdown and the COVID-19 pandemic in the context of a protracted conflict and occupation. Critical infrastructure, including the power and water supply, is eroding in many areas. Millions of people are unable to cover their most basic needs because of serious shortages of food, water, fuel, and medicines, among other essential supplies, especially in Gaza, as a result of the continued blockade. According to OCHA, more than 2.4 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance. Speaking at the end of his visit to the Gaza strip and the West Bank, IFRC President Francesco Rocca said: “I am deeply concerned about the humanitarian situation in Palestine: too many overlapping crises are pushing local communities to their limits. I am always impressed by the critical work done by the Palestine Red Crescent teams: from the emergency medical services to social and inclusion activities, they are a key humanitarian actor. I was particularly inspired by the visit to their centres for children with disabilities both in Gaza Strip and West Bank. These centres embody the real meaning of humanity: without PRCS these children would be left behind. The world has a moral duty to strengthen humanitarian support in Palestine and invest in local actors like the Palestine Red Crescent.” Palestine Red Crescent Society (PRCS) continues to be the leading provider of emergency medical services in Palestine, operating five hospitals and providing ambulance and first aid services. For decades, the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement has supported the Palestine Red Crescent Society to respond to the immense needs of the most vulnerable people. During the visit, President Rocca signed the IFRC legal status agreement with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Palestine: a standard procedure when the IFRC establishes an office with international staff to strengthen the operations of a national Red Cross or Red Crescent Society. IFRC President Rocca said: “Signing of the status agreement is verification for our long-term commitment to support PRCS and the people in Palestine. As per our humanitarian principles, we continue providing humanitarian relief to the people based on their vulnerabilities and needs, without discrimination as to nationality, race, religious beliefs, class or political opinions.” Dr. Younis al-Khatib, PRCS President, said: “The signing of the legal status agreement is a manifestation of the long-standing support and solidarity of IFRC with PRCS. The staff and volunteers of PRCS are always happy to meet with President Rocca and be inspired by his unwavering support and praise for the volunteers of our Movement.” IFRC is committed to supporting the PRCS in its humanitarian mandate to deal with the acute and protracted consequences of occupation, violence, disasters, and crises. IFRC together with the other Red Cross and Red Crescent partners continue to enhance the preparedness and response capacities of PRCS’ medical services, scale up their COVID-19 response activities, provide medical items, medicines and personal protective equipment, and replace old and out-of-service ambulances. To request an interview or for more information, please contact: In Geneva: Tommaso Della Longa, IFRC, +41 79 708 43 67, [email protected] In Beirut: Jani Savolainen, IFRC, +961 70372812, [email protected] In Ramallah: Mamoun Abbasi, PRCS, +970 595606096, [email protected]

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PRCS introduces children with disabilities and their families to distance learning

Randa El Ozeir: Undeterred by the interruption of physical communication due to COVID-19, the Palestinian Red Crescent Society (PRCS) has continued to support and help children with disabilities and those with special needs by using productive communication tools delivered by 60 teams responsible for distance learning and rehabilitation. Suheir Badarneh, the director of rehabilitation in the PRCS, explained that “due to the sudden closing down, this initiative didn’t require a special digital platform. We resorted to groups on WhatsApp, Messenger, and Facebook to exchange the information. We had to call some families on mobile phones and landing lines when they didn’t have neither internet connection nor smart devices.” Up to now, 686 children with special needs have benefited from the program that consists of special activities prepared by 187 volunteers, who have instructed the parents to implement them at home and send their feedback to the specialists and the rehabilitation workers. According to Badarneh, the activities aim to develop the children’ capabilities, relying on four main channels: a) equipping families with lessons and learning activities to be completed at home; b) providing through guidance and mental support a safe space for the children and their parents to express and release their feelings, fears, and inner thoughts; c) understanding the needs of the children and their parents and meet them as much as possible; d) and raising the awareness on virus prevention through health pamphlets created by the PRCS or other organizations.” So far, 10 PRCS Branches have participated in the program, which was geographically spread to Ariha, Anabta, Al-Khalil, Tarqumiyha, Toubas, Nablus, Bani Nai’m, Ramallah, Khan Younis, and Rafah. The PRCS has contacted 1048 families and supplied them with cognitive and kinetic activities along with instructions for self-care to train the children after the shut-down of schools and rehabilitation centres and the pending of face-to-face education. Badarneh said, “we were able to increase the number of beneficiaries to reach 70% of all targeted children. The positive involvement and the responsiveness of parents and children with the program team were crucial to the success of the initiative. At the beginning it wasn’t easy to convince the parents to commit to distance learning, as it was a new concept for them, and many believed it to be ineffective.” Given the novelty of the experience, the PRCS kept the door open for comments and suggestions from parents who wanted to improve the performance and the delivery methods of information to their children, including the deaf. The PRCS Branches created between 18 and 847 specific activities to be sent every day depending on the participation ratio and the nature of each Branch’s centre. Badarneh said, “we promoted social interaction among family members and the contribution to house chores, as well as developing language and communication capability in children, focusing on behaviour modification and boosting their fine and gross motor skills. We also completed the kindergarten program based on speech training, concept recognition, reading and writing, and sign language learning.” Asmahan Assfour, the coordinator of the sign language unit at the PRCS, said that a sign language translation has been provided to several female students to finish their digital marketing training online. And a group of female deaf students put their experience to test by producing 57 animated videos to spread awareness about COVID-19.” “This project requires an equipped team of volunteers and specialists to guide the families of children with disabilities and visit them as part of an awareness program,” suggested Sirine Abou Samaha, a psychologist with the PRCS, who also raised the alarm that, “people with special needs are one of the most marginalized and stigmatized groups in the world, even under normal circumstances. If the government and the relevant institutions didn’t act quickly to contain them in their response to the spread of COVID-19, they would be exposed to the infection risk and death. They are less immune to facing the virus, and this affects their families’ mental health and is reflected in chronic anxiety that can develop into depression. Abou Samaha warned that the psychological conditions of these children can become detrimental after being severed from their safe space in learning and rehabilitation centres. There they can socially interact and enjoy extracurricular activities, which channel their energy in the right direction, giving them a sense of self and the right to play, learn, and live like any other child. Abou Samaha suggested to coordinate health check-up campaigns for these children and encourage as many of their families as possible to be in the digital world. Om Karim, a mother of two children who attend the PRCS’ Total Communication School for teaching the deaf, welcomed the program. “The teacher, Najah Zahran, sends videos showing the letters’ and sounds’ phonetics, their signs, and their pictures to use when I teach my children. It has been a fruitful experience in many aspects for me and for my son. We have been able to fill our free time at home with learning. I, myself, even gained new skills.” There is value in looking at this distance learning program during COVID-19 and beyond. “We are weighing with the IT unit the options to best develop this technology, so we can keep working with the children with disabilities during COVID-19 or any similar situations,” concluded Badarneh. But the hard-financial position of the families remains the major obstacle to meet the necessary requirements and ensure an effective communication and participation of both children and their families.

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Empress Shôken Fund announces grants for 2020

The Fund 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. The Fund has assisted more than 160 National Societies thus far. 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 shown by 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 owing to the Easter holidays. The selection process The Empress Shôken Fund received 36 applications in 2020, 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 400,160 Swiss francs to 14 projects in Argentina, Bulgaria, Greece, Iraq, Lithuania, Montenegro, Namibia, Palestine, Panama, Sierra Leone, Timor-Leste, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, and Uganda. The projects to be supported in 2020 cover a number of themes, including first aid, youth engagement and disaster preparedness. Moreover, nearly all of the selected projects seek to strengthen the volunteer base of National Societies, with a view to building on the unique role played by the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement in communities everywhere. The Fund encourages new and innovative approaches that are geared towards learning, so that the broader Movement can benefit from project findings. The 2020 grants TheArgentine Red Crosshas launched a generational change in its leadership by promoting volunteers’ access to decision-making bodies. It will use the grant to design and build virtual courses, creating new spaces for dialogue and debate. For years, the Bulgarian Red Cross has been a major partner of the State in the field of first aid, helping it to respond effectively in a crisis. The National Society will use the grant to reinforce its leadership position by introducing an online first-aid training platform that will facilitate theoretical learning and increase the number of trained first-aiders. The Hellenic Red Cross seeks to empower local communities in vulnerable or isolated areas. The grant will go towards establishing branch and community disaster teams that will build communities’ resilience through activities and training around disaster risk reduction. In Iraq, late detection of breast cancer is common and makes the disease much deadlier. To save women’s lives, theIraqi Red Crescent Societywill use the grant to train female volunteers who will raise awareness of early detection methods for breast cancer. The Lithuanian Red Cross will put the grant towards an innovative digital platform for evaluating the impact of its first-aid courses, issuing and tracking certifications, and connecting with first-aiders after they complete their training. Young people account for more than 80% of the volunteers of the Red Cross of Montenegro. The National Society will use the grant to improve its activities and services with the aim of strengthening youth participation and raising awareness of volunteer opportunities. As Namibia’s population grows, first-aid skills and services are more in demand than ever before. The grant will enable the Namibia Red Cross to run intensive first-aid training and certification courses in ten schools. To better serve the communities it works with, thePalestine Red Crescent Society seeks to build its staff members’ and volunteers’ capacities. It will use the grant to establish a computer lab as a continuing-education unit for all of its staff and volunteers. In Panama, gang violence has shot up in recent years, and pollution continues to grow owing to a lack of public awareness. The Red Cross Society of Panama will use the grant to develop a series of activities aimed at promoting a culture of peace and environmental responsibility. Blood transfusion services are an essential component of Sierra Leone’s health-care system. The grant will enable the Sierra Leone Red Cross Society to increase access to safe blood products, especially for pregnant woman and infants. In Timor-Leste, 70% of the population is under 30 years old, but accessing information about reproductive health can be difficult, particularly in rural areas. The Timor Leste Red Cross will use the grant for a public-awareness and education campaign for young people on reproductive health. The Tonga Red Cross Society will use the grant to improve students' access to health care and physical activity by using safer vehicles for transportation. The Trinidad and Tobago Red Cross Society is exploring novel approaches to teaching disaster preparedness and increasing public awareness on the subject. The grant will enable the National Society to use virtual-reality technology to teach the public about the reality and impact of disasters. In Uganda, 70% of blood donors are students, so the country faces blood shortages outside term time. The Uganda Red Cross Society will use the grant to develop its online recruitment of adult blood donors so as to counteract any seasonal shortfalls during the holidays.

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| Press release

IFRC President praises Palestine Red Crescent volunteers and calls for more support

Ramallah, 14 Dec 2018: For the past 50 years, volunteers at Palestine Red Crescent Society (PRCS) have been providing humanitarian services not only in the occupied Palestinian territory but also to the Palestinian diaspora in Lebanon, Iraq, Syria and Egypt. To mark the anniversary, PRCS organized an event in Ramallah attended by volunteers, International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement representatives, NGOs and several humanitarian organizations. Dr. Younis A-Khatib, President of Palestine Red Crescent Society, said: “On our 50th anniversary, I congratulate our volunteers and staff for their dedication and passion, without which, we wouldn’t have been able to provide humanitarian services in an extremely difficult working environment. “I would like to express our gratitude for the remarkable support we have been receiving from our sister organizations, the National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, and look forward to fostering additional strategic partnerships to further strengthen the capacity of our volunteers and staff.” Mr Francesco Rocca, President of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and IFRC Regional Director Sayed Hashem attended the event. Mr Rocca said: “We are in Palestine to express our solidarity and admiration of the hard work that volunteers and staff have been doing under difficult circumstances for the past 50 years. Humanitarian needs here are already serious and I fear they may worsen in 2019. At least 1.9 million Palestinians could be at risk of conflict and violence, forcible displacement and denial of access to livelihoods. We call on the international community for greater support to PRCS: local actors are always best placed to serve their own communities. “While we celebrate 50 years of achievements, we remember all volunteers who lost their lives in line of duty and we remind all parties to the conflict that Red Crescent volunteers, staff and emergency medical technicians are neutral and should be protected and enabled to do their humanitarian duty at all times.” Palestine Red Crescent Society emergency services are ready to respond at a moment’s notice across the occupied Palestinian territory. In addition, PRCS provides disaster management services when needed and deploys mobile emergency teams and field hospitals to isolated and affected towns and villages where teams provide health care and relief items to communities in need.

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| Press release

In wake of Gaza violence, IFRC President praises courage of Red Crescent volunteers, highlights humanitarian needs

Ramallah/Beirut/Geneva, 24 May 2018— The President of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) has met some of the volunteers injured while responding to recent violence in Gaza. Speaking at the end of his two-day visit to Gaza, President Francesco Rocca, praised the courage and commitment of Red Crescent personnel who assisted more than 6,000 people injured during the violence. Six volunteers were wounded in the line of duty. Mr Rocca said: “I came here to convey our admiration and solidarity to our colleagues from the Palestine Red Crescent Society. Their dedication and bravery is inspiring. I was especially moved to meet some of the young volunteers now recovering from injuries they sustained during their efforts. I once again call on all parties to respect and protect volunteers and other humanitarian workers. “I also came here to better understand the difficulties faced by those living in Gaza. The humanitarian needs in Gaza are enormous. The health system is near collapse – any health system would struggle under the massive number of wounded. “But when we talk about humanitarian needs in Gaza, we are not just talking about the recent violence. I saw a great need for long-term treatment and rehabilitation. Emergency care is critical, but so is longer-term support. Right now, this is not readily available in Gaza,” said Mr Rocca. President Rocca visited several of the emergency medical stations that were established by Palestine Red Crescent Society during the violence, as well as a Red Crescent hospital and psychosocial centre in Khan Yunis. President Rocca was joined throughout his visit by Dr Younis Al Khatib, the President of the Palestine Red Crescent Society. Dr Younis said: “We appreciate the support of IFRC and our partners across the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement. We appreciate this support, but we desperately need more. We have launched an international appeal for Gaza and the West Bank. Our message is simple: people here need help. Every day our emergency medical teams, volunteers, and psycho social support staff are doing all they can to help meet these needs. But we cannot do it alone. “I also repeat our call for our medical missions, volunteers and staff to be respected and protected. We are humanitarians. We wear the protective emblem of the red crescent. We are not a target,” Dr Younis said.

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