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18/07/2022 | Article

Healing the invisible scars of the Ukraine conflict: IFRC and European Union launch mental health project

According to the WHO, one in five people are affected by mental health disorders in post-conflict settings. If left without treatment and adequate support, people from Ukraine face long-lasting effects that could harm themselves, their families and communities. “Wounds of war are deep, sometimes too deep to manage alone,” says Nataliia Korniienko, Mental Health and Psychosocial Support delegate with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC). As a Ukrainian herself who had to leave the country when the escalation began, she understands firsthand the stress faced by those fleeing conflict. “People are craving for someone to take the time to sit alongside them in their pain, but this often lacking for many fleeing Ukraine right now.” In a regional initiative to meet this massive need, National Red Cross Societies in the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania and Slovakia and Ukraine have joined forces to offer mental health and psychosocial support services to more than 300,000 people from Ukraine. Funded by the European Union and with technical assistance from the IFRC and the IFRC Psychosocial Centre, the project connects vulnerable people with mental health professionals and volunteers from the six National Societies. Support is offered in Ukrainian and other languages through various platforms, including helplines, mobile outreach and in-person group activities. Materials on psychosocial support in several languages are also going to be distributed among mental health professionals and the public. Since the first days of the conflict, Red Cross Red Crescent staff and volunteers have been assisting people at border crossing points, train stations and temporary shelters – listening and demonstrating empathy, sharing life-saving information, and taking care of vulnerable people. Aneta Trgachevska, acting Head of Health and Care at IFRC Europe, said: “We try to reach everyone in need in a convenient, personalized way. Assistance will not be limited to just a couple of calls or meetings—a person will receive support as long as we are needed. This kind of early response can alleviate symptoms and prevent people from developing serious levels of distress or even mental health conditions.” -- The content of this article is the sole responsibility of IFRC and does not necessarily reflect the views of the European Union.

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30/06/2022 | Emergency

Uganda: Population movement

Escalating conflict in eastern provinces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo has triggered a large-scale displacement of refugees across the border into Uganda. Tens of thousands of people have fled since late March 2022, many with limited or no possessions, and basic social services in the settlements are struggling to cope with the increased demand. Through this Emergency Appeal, the IFRC is supporting the Uganda Red Cross Society to scale up its support to refugees—specifically its provision ofshelter, essential household items, health care, and water and sanitation services.

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25/02/2022 | Emergency

Ukraine and impacted countries crisis

Due to the conflict escalation in Ukraine, millions of people have left their homes and crossed into neighbouring countries. The Ukrainian Red Cross is helping people affected by the conflict as the security situation allows. National Societies in surrounding countries, with support from the IFRC, are assisting people leaving Ukraine with shelter, basic aid items, cash assistance, medical supplies and treatment. People from Ukraine will need long-term, ongoing support. Our priority is addressing the humanitarian needs of all people affected by the conflict, inside and outside Ukraine.

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01/08/2022 | Emergency

Mexico & Central American migration crisis

Since the beginning of 2022, there has been a massive increase in the number of refugees, migrants, and returnees in transit by land northwards through Central America. People are mostly moving through irregular channels, and along the way face bureaucratic barriers, suffer accidents and injuries, face extortion and sexual violence or disappear and are separated from their families. Tragically, others are killed or die from diseases or the harsh environmental conditions. This Emergency Appeal supports the Red Cross Societies of Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala and Mexico to scale up humanitarian assistance and protection to 210,000 people along migratory routes.

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23/08/2022 | Press release

Nearly 1 million still await life at the world largest displacement camp

Kuala Lumpur/ Dhaka, 22 Aug 2022: This 25 August marks five long years of the massive displacement of people from Rakhine state of Myanmar, who crossed the border into Bangladesh. The protracted crisis now stands at colossal number of displaced people in the camp – 936,733 people – who are completely reliant on humanitarian assistance to meet their everyday needs in the world’s largest camp in Cox’s Bazar. At the beginning of this humanitarian crisis, the Government of Bangladesh called on Bangladesh Red Crescent Society to respond to the emergency in line with Red Crescent’s mandate to provide humanitarian services as auxiliary to the public authorities. In response, an international operation was launched in Cox's Bazar with the support of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and its RCRC partners, called Population Movement Operation. The Secretary General of Bangladesh Red Crescent, Kazi Shofiqul Azam said: “The crisis had already tipped into a complex protracted displacement crisis a while ago. Top priorities must go to long-term solutions, balancing the initiatives in the camps and to the neighbouring host community. “We are calling for long-term commitment and resources that are very much needed to address this crisis. Children make up almost a 51 per cent of the camp population, while women and girls represent almost 52 per cent of the population. One in three displaced families has at least one easily identifiable protection vulnerability, such as human trafficking, underage marriage, sexual exploitation and abuse. Many sustainable initiatives that were implemented at the camp have been lifesaving for the people there such as mid-term shelters or durable housing, solar-powered water supply networks, and disaster mitigation activities. However, the people there remains completely dependent on humanitarian assistance to meet daily and longer-term needs. Asia Pacific Regional Director of IFRC Mr. Alexander Matheou said: “What you see on the surface in the camps has improved over five years thanks to the work of the government of Bangladesh and multiple national and international partners. “But below the surface, in people's lives, where the future is uncertain and there is no work or movement, there are less obvious but important risks - of depression, trafficking, violence, including gender-based violence. With no durable solutions in sight, the humanitarian response needs to focus on recreation and protection as much as lifesaving needs. The situation is further compounded by the fact that Cox’s Bazar sits right on the path of cyclones, and hence is constantly subject to seasonal flash floods, devastating cyclones and heavy rainfall that cause landslides, severe water logging, shelter damages; frequent fire incidents; potential outbreaks of cholera, dengue and diphtheria. Also due to the sheer number of people there, epidemics such as cholera and COVID are a huge day-to-day threat. The IFRC Head of Delegation in Bangladesh, Sanjeev Kafley said: “This is one of IFRC’s largest, most complex humanitarian support in Bangladesh. For the last five years, the IFRC and many partner National Societies have been supporting Bangladesh Red Crescent in ensuring the protection and extended humanitarian support for the camp. “Considering COVID-19 experience, the IFRC is focusing on institutional preparedness. The IFRC’s strategy of supporting the displaced and host communities in Cox’s Bazar includes integrated community resilience, social inclusion and readiness for effective response till 2024; for now. Bangladesh Red Crescent, with the support of IFRC and Participating National Societies (PNS), will maintain and look to scale up its efforts to meet the urgent humanitarian needs and keep the hundreds of thousands of families safe through a range of life saving humanitarian assistance including shelter, health, PSS, wash, livelihood, DRM as well as emergencies and disaster response. The protection, gender and inclusion and community engagement and accountability are mainstreamed in our operation ensuring people at the center of our action. For more information or to arrange an interview, contact: Cox's Bazar: Barkat Ullah Maruf, +880 1711 222922, [email protected] Sabrina Idris, +880 1710-840327, [email protected] Dhaka: Mahmudul Hasan, +880 1716-103333, [email protected] Kuala Lumpur: Rachel Punitha, +60 19 791 3830, [email protected]

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11/05/2022 | Article

En route to Europe I didn’t fear death—only dying without trying

This piece was originally published in Politico, here. I sought safety. That was my destination. I wasn’t thinking of European cities or towns. I just wanted to be safe. That’s why I left my country. It’s why I didn’t stop in those nearby either—I had to keep moving. First through Sudan and Libya, then on a wooden boat across the Mediterranean Sea, where I was eventually picked up by a rescue ship. More than 10 years have passed since then, and I live in Italy now. But through my work, I find myself reliving that experience over and over. The most important part of my job is telling the people we rescue: “You are safe.” It’s as if I’m also telling their mothers, telling their brothers and sisters and all their villages too. I celebrate this moment with them; I celebrate their lives with them. Because too many others never get to hear those words. In the last few months, we’ve seen tremendous solidarity with those fleeing the war in Ukraine; it is incredibly inspiring. Yet witnessing the overarching willingness to help victims of this crisis, while so many who flee suffering and persecution elsewhere end up at the bottom of the sea, raises the question: do human lives really carry such difference in value? It was never my first choice to undertake such a dangerous journey to seek safety so far from home. But the lack of available legal channels to access international protection made it my only option — it was a necessity. And while states argue about migration policies and practices, for us volunteers, it is simply about saving lives and alleviating suffering. When I left Eritrea 20 years ago, fleeing compulsory military service and forced labor programs, I didn't know where Europe was, what it was like or how to get there. It also didn’t occur to me that I was saying goodbye to my family, and my country, for the last time. Like my brothers and sisters in Ukraine today, my only concern was avoiding bullets. And I am one of the relatively few from my part of the world fortunate enough to reach a place of safety in the end. When I was travelling through the desert in Libya, I remember seeing a group of people—women, men and children—lying crumpled on top of each other, naked. I asked the driver why they were naked, and he told me that their car had broken down and they had burned everything to try and attract attention, including their own clothes. What is the use of clothing anyway, when one is facing death? They were just some unknown people, who came into the world naked and left naked. People so off the radar they had to burn everything in the hopes of being seen. Still, even that was not enough. You meet merchants of death in Libya too—those who organize the trips to leave by boat, who are your only hope of escaping that hell. When you experience how horrible life there is—the prisons, torture, gangs and slave markets—you are not afraid of death, only of dying without trying. When I finally reached the coast and went toward the waiting boat, I could barely walk from both the fear and hope. I saw mothers throwing their children onto the boat and following after them. I did not wonder why a mother would throw her child inside this small boat. I was sure that whatever she had seen must be more terrible than the sea and its darkness. We set out at night. Eventually, the time comes when you can’t see anyone, not even yourself, but the prayers, crying and moaning remain. At that moment, the sounds of children are the only source of certainty that you are still alive. We were at sea like this for three days until the rescue ship found us. One might ask why someone decides to go through all this. But just look at what is happening in the countries people are coming from: the suffering caused by conflict, hunger, poverty, climate change and many other factors that are often present in their surrounding countries too. And those who leave don’t just do it for themselves—they’re an investment for their families and communities. One of my friends sends the money he earns back home to build a school in his village. Another one has funded access to safe water. The money that migrants around the world send home is three times more than what comes from aid. The Ukraine crisis and the response to it have now shown us what is possible when we put humanity first, when there is global solidarity and the will to assist and protect the most vulnerable. This must be extended to everyone in need, wherever they come from. Nobody should have to experience what I have been through—in my own country, on my migration journey or when I arrived in Europe. Everyone deserves to hear the words, “You’re safe.”

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11/05/2022 | Article

Ukraine conflict: How the Red Cross provides much-needed support to people leaving the country

They arrive at the border between Ukraine and Slovakia exhausted after two or three days of travelling. Some come by car. Many others are on foot, carrying bags, dragging suitcases. Since late February, nearly 6 million people have fled Ukraine to seek safety in other countries. There are women and there are children. Many, many children. The few men in the line up tend to be older. The younger ones have largely stayed behind to support their country in the conflict. The youngsters help the weary and worried adults carry their few precious belongings. They wear backpacks with teddy bears attached. One little girl carries her own bag of diapers. While some little ones cling to their mothers with all the strength their tiny hands can muster, older ones run about, excited about the adventure they have been told they are on. Their mothers scramble to corral them. People come to this border at Uzhhorod crossing all hours of the day and night. Volunteers with the Ukrainian Red Cross greet them. They provide information, food, hot drinks, clothing, and blankets. Decked out in their vibrant red emergency uniforms, they help carry people’s belongings up to the border crossing. Some need wheelchairs and the volunteers jump up to help. Once they cross the border, they will be welcomed by volunteers from the Slovak Red Cross. Olexander Bodnar is the 23-year-old man who heads up the volunteer team for the Ukrainian Red Cross in Uzhhorod, at the country’s western border. Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, the team takes shifts at this crossing. “My team are the most wonderful people on the earth,” he says. “We have so many kind people who have joined us. We have 130 volunteers who have signed up since the conflict began. Many are nurses and doctors.” Medical skills are highly valued. In a newly constructed building, the Red Cross has set up a small clinic, stocked with things like baby food and diapers. Cots line one side of the clinic as a place for weary travellers to rest, if only for a little while. It is here that the volunteers perform basic first aid. Many of the older people complain of rising blood pressure. Trained volunteers check it and tell me that most of the time, it’s fine. They are under extreme stress, and some experience panic attacks – a normal reaction during an abnormal event. Olexander shares a story about an older woman who was leaving her beloved country with her husband, who had just had surgery: “She fell to her knees and asked God to protect her country. She said ‘My dear Ukraine, please forgive me. I don’t want to leave you, but I must.’” Tears filled Olexander’s eyes as he helped the couple approach the border crossing. -- The IFRC is supporting the Ukrainian Red Cross, and many other Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies in the surrounding region, to help people affected by the conflict in Ukraine. Learn more about our work here.

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14/04/2022 | Press release

IFRC to support more than 2 million people affected by the conflict in Ukraine with its largest ever rollout of emergency cash assistance

Geneva, 14 April 2022 – As the needs of people impacted by the conflict in Ukraine continue to grow, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is scaling up its response activities to meet immediate and urgent needs, both inside Ukraine and within the countries people have fled to seeking safety. Secretary General of the IFRC, Jagan Chapagain, says: “This will be IFRC’s most extensive emergency cash programme. Our number one priority is getting support to people who are most vulnerable. From our previous experience with cash assistance, we know it is a dignified approach to providing aid as quickly and efficiently as possible. While financial assistance is a major component of our response, we’re also scaling up across many other sectors including health. We have already reached 160,000 people with healthcare and first aid support, but the longer the conflict continues, the more extensive the health needs will become.” In its largest emergency financial assistance programme to date, IFRC aims to reach more than 2 million people with support, targeting 360,000 people in Ukraine and neighbouring countries within the first three months. Longer-term financial assistance will address the needs of affected people as the crisis evolves. IFRC Regional Director for Europe Birgitte Bischoff Ebbesen, says: “With every day that passes, we know vulnerabilities increase. Access to medical supplies, food, water, utilities, and other vital goods and services deteriorates. We know there are so many uncertainties for people right now, but one thing that’s clear is the needs are immense, and they will be for a long time.” IFRC is supporting more than 1 million people with over 1,800 metric tonnes of hygiene and kitchen items, blankets, food, mats and tarpaulins in Ukraine and surrounding countries. The IFRC Secretariat with its member National Societies have launched a Federation-wide response plan for 1.2 billion Swiss francs, which aims to assist 3.6 million people over two years, with multi-purpose cash assistance, health & care and water, sanitation and hygiene services, as well as shelter and housing support. Globally, more than 55 National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies have supported the response to date. The IFRC Secretariat is supporting this response plan by appealing for 550 million Swiss francs to scale up support to National Societies in Ukraine and neighbouring countries. Media contacts: In Ukraine: Caroline Haga, +358 50 5980500, [email protected] In Poland: Jenelle Eli, +1 202 603-6803, [email protected] In Romania: Angela Hill, +40 758 450 185, [email protected] In Budapest: Nicole Robicheau, +36 30 167 2629, [email protected] In Budapest: Kathy Mueller, +1 226 376-4013 [email protected] In Geneva: Anna Tuson, +41 79 895 6924, [email protected] Learn more about the IFRC's work in cash and voucher assistance here.

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27/03/2022 | Press release

Ukrainian Red Cross volunteers provide life-saving aid to people in need

Geneva, 27 March 2022 - Red Cross volunteers have reached hundreds of thousands of people in Ukraine since the conflict began one month ago with life-saving aid, despite the dangers they face and the fact that they are also affected. Maksym Dotsenko, Director General at Ukrainian Red Cross says: “Many of our staff and volunteers are also experiencing the conflict first-hand. They are worried about their families and their safety, and yet they continue to put on the Red Cross vest to deliver critical aid to neighbors and strangers alike. This is the true spirit of the principle of volunteerism upon which the Red Cross is based.” That spirit of wanting to help is being reflected among the general population. Since the conflict started, 6,000 new volunteers, among them teachers and medical professionals, have joined the Ukrainian Red Cross. IFRC Secretary General Jagan Chapagain says: “Volunteers of the Ukrainian Red Cross have been on the ground from day one despite the risks. Many of them have suffered and lost loved ones in this conflict. As the conflict enters its second month, their ongoing support is increasingly critical as needs continue to rise and access remains heavily restricted. We stand by these men and women, offering solidarity and support. We honor their courageous work and commitment to helping others.” The IFRC network has established logistics pipelines from Poland, Hungary, and Romania to allow for the delivery of life-saving aid into Ukraine, supporting the Ukrainian Red Cross Society in areas most saturated with internally displaced persons. In the past month, the Ukrainian Red Cross teams have reached more than 400,000 people in the country with more than 1,600 tons of essential goods distributed. They have supported the evacuation of over 79,000 people from Energodar, Sumy, Kyiv region, Kharkiv and Kherson region. Also, in addition to providing first aid, they are teaching people sheltering underground how to provide it themselves. An estimated 6.5 million people have been displaced within Ukraine, the majority of whom are women and children, people living with disabilities, older people and minority groups, the UNHCR reports. The IFRC is supporting the work of National Red Cross Societies in neighboring countries responding to the needs of the 3.5 million people who have fled Ukraine with cash grants, shelter, basic aid items, health care, psychosocial support and medical supplies. Among these groups, a special focus is on vulnerable people, including unaccompanied minors, single women with children, older people, and people living with disabilities. For related AV materials: https://www.ifrcnewsroom.org Media contacts: In Ukraine: Caroline Haga, +358 50 5980500, [email protected] In Poland: Jenelle Eli, +1 202 603-6803, [email protected] In Budapest: Kathy Mueller, +1 226 376-4013 [email protected] In Geneva: Anna Tuson, +41 79 895 6924, [email protected]

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21/03/2022 | Press release

“In Ukraine, the needs are growing every day,” says Red Cross President

Bucharest, 21 March 2022 - As the world’s largest humanitarian network responds to the unfolding crisis in Europe, its leadership returns from Ukraine with a warning about the coming days and weeks — and reaffirms that the Red Cross will strengthen support inside and outside its borders. Francesco Rocca, President of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), connected with some of the 6,000 Ukrainian Red Cross volunteers delivering aid to families experiencing the worst weeks of their lives. “The devastating reality of Ukraine is that the needs are growing every day. Amidst increased violence and a disrupted supply chain, delivering essential goods in many parts of the country is getting harder — not easier. Responding to a crisis of this magnitude takes teamwork, which is why we’re working hand-in-hand with the Ukrainian Red Cross on the ground to let people know that they’re not alone. Not ever,” states Rocca. Since the conflict began, the Ukrainian Red Cross has distributed hundreds of tons of essential goods and team members have supported the evacuation of approximately 57,000 people from Energodar, Sumy, Kviy region, Kharkiv and Kherson region. The Ukrainian Red Cross is not only providing first aid, but also teaching it to people who are taking cover in basements and shelters. No one in Ukraine is left unscathed by the ongoing conflict. An estimated 18 million people — or one-third of the population — will require humanitarian assistance. “Ukrainian Red Cross volunteers have lost homes, communities, and loved ones. Yet, they keep doing the work of delivering aid and comfort to families in need. I am humbled by their resilience and their commitment to humanitarianism in the midst of conflict.” Speaking from the Romanian border in Siret, Mr. Rocca stressed the altruistic nature of community members around Europe welcoming the more than 3 million people who have fled Ukraine. After Poland, Romania has received the second highest number of people crossing its borders in search of safety: more than 500,000 according to the UN Refugee Agency. Romanian Red Cross teams have been working 24/7 at border crossings since day one, providing items such as food, water, diapers, feminine hygiene products, warm gloves, and other necessities. The Romanian Red Cross is offering SIM cards and mobile charging stations — to help people who have been separated from their loved ones in Ukraine to reconnect. Many who have crossed the border simply ask for a cup of coffee or tea. Seemingly simple aid like this can offer families peace of mind in an otherwise hopeless moment. “We have provided more than 400 tons of aid to those affected by the conflict, but a hot drink and a warm welcome is what many of those fleeing say they appreciate most,” says Rocca. Media contacts: In Romania and Ukraine: Tommaso Della Longa, +41 797 084 367, [email protected] In Romania: Jenelle Eli, +1 202 603 6803, [email protected] In Budapest: Kathy Mueller, +1 226 376 4013, [email protected] In Geneva: Benoit Matsha-Carpentier, +41 79 213 24 13, [email protected]

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01/03/2022 | Press release

International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement appeals for 250 million Swiss francs to assist people affected by Ukraine conflict

Geneva, 1 March 2022 - With the humanitarian situation in Ukraine and neighbouring countries deteriorating rapidly, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) fear that millions of people face extreme hardship and suffering without improved access and a rapid increase in humanitarian assistance. To respond to this sudden, massive need, the two organizations together are appealing for 250 million Swiss francs ($272 million). The ICRC is appealing for 150 million Swiss francs ($163 million) for its 2022 operations in Ukraine and neighbouring countries. ICRC Director General Robert Mardini said: “The escalating conflict in Ukraine is taking a devastating toll. Casualty figures keep rising while health facilities struggle to cope. We already see long-term disruptions in regular water and electricity supplies. People calling our hotline in Ukraine are desperately in need of food and shelter. To respond to this massive emergency, our teams must be able to operate safely to access those in need.” In the coming weeks, the ICRC will increase its work reuniting separated families, providing food and other household items to the internally displaced, increasing awareness about areas contaminated by unexploded ordnance, and carrying out its work to ensure that dead bodies are treated with dignity and that family members of the deceased can grieve and find closure. Water trucking and other emergency water delivery is now needed. Support to health facilities will be increased, with a focus on providing supplies and equipment to care for people wounded by weapons. The IFRC is appealing for 100 million Swiss francs ($109 million) to support National Red Cross Societies to assist an initial two million people in need due to intensified hostilities in Ukraine Among these groups, a special focus will be on vulnerable people, including unaccompanied minors, single women with children, elderly, and people with disabilities. Investment will be significantly increased in capacity building of Red Cross teams in Ukraine and neighbouring countries to bolster locally led humanitarian action. They have already mobilized thousands of volunteers and staff and are providing life-saving assistance such as shelter, basic aid items, medical supplies, mental health and psychosocial support and multi-purpose cash assistance to as many people as possible. IFRC Secretary General Jagan Chapagain said: "In the middle of so much suffering, it is heart-warming to see the level of global solidarity. The needs of the people affected by the conflict are increasing by the hour. The situation is very desperate for many. A rapid response is needed to save lives. Our member National Societies are uniquely positioned to respond, and, in some contexts, they are the only actor that can deliver humanitarian assistance at scale, but they need support to make it happen. I call for global solidarity to ramp up the assistance to people suffering because of this conflict.” For more information or to arrange interviews: In Geneva: Anna Tuson, +41 79 895 6924, [email protected] In Budapest: Corinne Ambler, +36 704 306 506, [email protected] In Geneva: Florian Seriex, +41 79 574 06 36, [email protected] In Geneva: Jason Straziuso, +41 79 949 3512, [email protected]

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28/02/2022 | Press release

Red Cross providing life-saving assistance for hundreds of thousands displaced from Ukraine

Budapest/Geneva, 28 February 2022 – The conflict in Ukraine is shaping up to be one of the biggest humanitarian emergencies in Europe for years to come, says the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC). As the fighting continues for the fifth day, millions of people in Ukraine desperately need safe drinking water and food, as roads are impassable, and electricity and water supplies are cut off. The most pressing needs are emergency medical care, medicine, clean water and shelter for people who have had to leave their homes. In recent days, the Ukrainian Red Cross has provided first aid training for more than 2,000 people sheltering in metro stations and bomb shelters so they can help treat family and friends in the event of injury. Its volunteers are helping to evacuate people with disabilities and emergency response teams are assisting firefighters, medical and civil protection teams – helping to save many lives. The National Society has already distributed its complete stock of 30,000 food and hygiene parcels for people on the move. Volunteers are also helping at reception centres set up in schools and coordinating with the Polish Red Cross to assist people at the border. “Our teams are fully committed to helping as many people as possible. At the moment, it is often too dangerous to be outside and we cannot reach people without risking our own lives, but we continue to try our best. Yet, in the past few days, more than a thousand people have joined as Red Cross volunteers, which shows just how keen people are to help their communities in these dark times,” says Maksym Dotsenko, Director General of the Ukrainian Red Cross. Due to the armed conflict, hundreds of thousands of people have left their homes and crossed into neighbouring countries. As of 28 February afternoon, UNHCR reports that at least 500,000 people have left, but the number is growing by the hour as people queue at border crossing points. To support the Ukrainian Red Cross and National Societies in neighbouring countries, the IFRC has already released one million Swiss francs from its Disaster Relief Emergency Fund, ahead of a multi-million francs Emergency Appeal to be launched tomorrow. Red Cross teams in Croatia, Hungary, Moldova, Poland, Romania, Russia and Slovakia have immediately mobilized to help people arriving from Ukraine. Temporary accommodation has been set up along the borders to offer shelter or respite for the night. Volunteers are distributing food, water, bedding, clothes and basic aid items on both sides of the border and providing medical care and psychosocial support for those in need. They’re also handing out SIM cards, so that people can stay in touch with their loved ones. “It is heart-breaking to see so many individual tragedies unfold at our doorstep. Humanitarian actors like National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies should be given safe access to people who are injured, hungry and desperate, no matter who or where they are. There’s no end in sight for this conflict, and no telling when people can safely return home. Until that day, we will be there to support them,” says Birgitte Bischoff Ebbesen, IFRC Regional Director for Europe. For more information, please contact: In Budapest: Nora Peter, +36 70 265 4020, [email protected] In Budapest: Corinne Ambler, +36 704 306 506, [email protected] In Geneva: Caroline Haga, +358 50 598 0500, [email protected] Photos and videos: Ukraine: https://shared.ifrc.org/c/1240 Romania: https://shared.ifrc.org/c/1247 Hungary: https://shared.ifrc.org/c/1242 Croatia: https://shared.ifrc.org/c/1248 Poland: https://shared.ifrc.org/c/1239 Slovakia: https://shared.ifrc.org/c/1243 Russia: https://shared.ifrc.org/c/1249

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27/01/2022 | Press release

Syria: Extremely harsh winter raises acute humanitarian needs to highest level ever

Damascus/Beirut, 27 January 2022–Extreme winter conditions are putting communities already overwhelmed by overlapping crises in immediate danger, resulting in the highest level of acute humanitarian needs ever in Syria, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) warns. In many areas, this winter has been one of the coldest in the past decade, with snowstorms and sub-zero temperatures. IFRC is deeply concerned about the situation in the country as the number of people in need of humanitarian assistance has reached the highest since the start of the crisis. According to the UN, a total of 14.6 million people needs support, 1.2 million more than in 2021. 6.9 million people are internally displaced. Mads Brinch Hansen, Head of the IFRC Delegation in Syria, said: “Exceptionally cold weather is making the lives of many people all around Syria even more difficult, especially the displaced communities living in temporary shelters who don’t have appropriate clothing or heating for sub-zero temperatures. “The situation in Syria is worse than ever. The price of basic commodities such as food and fuel has skyrocketed making them unaffordable for the majority of people, escalations of violence are intensifying, and COVID-19 continues to put an extra burden on communities. At the same time, funding for humanitarian actors is shrinking.” Eng. Khaled Hboubati, President of the Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC), said: “Daily, our volunteers in Hassakeh and everywhere in Syria see more people who are asking for support, more children who are without winter clothes in the middle of the storm. The situation is getting worse amid the COVID-19 pandemic and the economic sanctions that complicate our humanitarian response. “We will continue doing our best to alleviate the suffering of millions of people and preserve their dignity. We need the support from partners and donors to restore the livelihoods of people and ensure sustainable solutions to accelerate the recovery.” Hassakeh, where up to 45,000 people have been displaced by recent violence at Sina'a Prison, is one of the hardest-hit regions with sub-zero temperatures making the winter one of the coldest in recent history. Snow has also covered the Al-Hol camp, which hosts more than 60,000 displaced people. SARC continues to be the main humanitarian actor in the country with thousands of volunteers responding to the acute needs caused by the conflict, economic crisis, and COVID-19 as well as the cold wave. In Hassakeh, SARC has a key role in evacuating as well as providing medical services and drinking water for the newly displaced and the communities hosting them. Almost 11 years since the start of the conflict, Syria continues to be one of the biggest and most complex humanitarian crises globally. Homes and whole cities have been utterly destroyed, forcing mass displacement. According to the UN, 90 percent of the population in Syria lives below the poverty line and 70 percent are facing acute food shortages – figures that have not seen improvement in recent years due to the economic downturn, instability and disasters driven by climate change. In 2021, Syria faced the worst drought in more than 50 years. To scale up the Syrian Arab Red Crescent's humanitarian response and meet the growing needs, IFRC calls for partners and donors to continue showing their solidarity towards the people in Syria. Funding is more urgent than ever to ensure Syrian people can cover their basic needs and maintain a life of dignity. For more information: In Beirut: Jani Savolainen, IFRC, [email protected], +961 70372812 In Damascus: Rahaf Aboud, Syrian Arab Red Crescent, [email protected], +963 959999853 Read more: IFRC Syria Country Plan For the editors: About the Syrian Arab Red Crescent: The Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC) is the main humanitarian actor in Syria. It has more than 13,500 staff members and volunteers in 14 branches and 97 sub-branches nationwide. Annually SARC reaches 5.6 million people with humanitarian assistance. About the IFRC: The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (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. With a permanent delegation in Syria since 2007, IFRC has played a pivotal role in providing humanitarian services and supporting the Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC) in their organisational and strategic development and in strengthening SARC’s operational capacity.

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25/01/2022 | Article

Cash and livelihoods: a winning combination for long-term sustainability and support to refugees

By Deniz Kacmaz, IFRC Turkey, Livelihood Officer Turkey is hosting the largest refugee population in the world. More than 3.7 million Syrians have sought refuge as well as 330,000 under international protection and those seeking asylum, including Iraqis, Afghans, Iranians, Somalis, among others. With the conflict in Syria now entering its twelfth year with few signs of change, means that we are not just looking at a humanitarian emergency anymore, but on long-term resilience. Since the refugee influx began in Turkey, the Turkish Red Crescent (Türk Kızılay) has been taking a leading role in the response. As of April 2020, Turkish Red Crescent through its KIZILAYKART platform and IFRC run the largest humanitarian cash programme in the world, the Emergency Social Safety Net (ESSN), funded by the EU. This programme has helped more than 1.5 million cover some of their most basic needs, covering their groceries, rent and utilities, medicine and their children's school supplies. But humanitarian emergency cash assistance can only go so far. There is also a need to focus on longer-term resilience. This is why we are working on both the urgent needs of refugees, while also supporting longer-term livelihood opportunities for refugees and host communities. From humanitarian cash to longer-term resilience We are working on both the urgent needs of refugees, while also supporting longer-term livelihood opportunities for refugees and host communities. This means being part of the labour market to meet their own needs and rebuild their life without depending on social assistance, including the ESSN. We must focus on long-term solutions where refugees, supported by the ESSN, gain their power to stand on their feet and become self-reliant again. I have been working at IFRC Turkey Delegation for almost two years helping identify gaps and find opportunities to empower people's socio-economic capacities. This approach helps ensure they are resilient in combating challenges in the future, including the devastating socio-economic impacts brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic and general obstacles around employment opportunities. We have seen in many contexts when refugees are able to build their resilience and self-sufficiency, they can contribute even more meaningfully to the local economy. When they benefit, we all benefit, including host communities. What are we doing to bring this long-term solution to the lives of refugees? As of April 2021, we have launched referrals that link people receiving cash assistance through ESSN with a plethora of livelihood trainings and opportunities in Turkish Red Crescent community centres. The 19 community centres across Turkey offer support to both refugee and host communities, including work permit support, vocational courses such as sewing; mask producing; various agricultural trainings; and Turkish language courses and skills trainings. These services are critical to breaking barriers in the local markets. The community centres connect skilled individuals to relevant job opportunities by coordinating with public institutions and other livelihood sector representatives. The ESSN cash assistance provides support to refugees in the short term while giving them opportunities to learn new skills, which can lead to income generation in the long term. How do we conduct referrals from the ESSN to livelihoods? There are many sources where families are identified for referrals, some of the most common are: Turkish Red Crescent (Türk Kızılay) Service Centre 168 Kızılay Call Centre Direct e-mail address to the TRC referral and outreach team Identified potential individuals among ESSN protection cases Field teams including monitoring and evaluation and referral and outreach teams who are regularly engaging with those benefitting from ESSN In the first months of combining cash assistance with longer-term programmes, we have supported more than 1,000 refugees. Some have been referred to employment supports including consultancy for employment and work permit support, while others are attending language courses, vocational trainings, and skills development courses through public institutions, NGOs, UN agencies and TRC’s community centres. Though we have developed a robust livelihood referral system, collectively, we need to make stronger investments in social economic empowerment in the future. While we continue to work on improving our programming and referral mechanisms, as IFRC, we are also reaching out to agencies, civil society, donors, and authorities tolook at how we can: increase investment in socio-economic empowerment in Turkey, mitigate barriers to employment for refugees, and create greater synergies between humanitarian and development interventions. It is this collective effort that will deliver the longer-term gains necessary for both refugee and local communities in Turkey to thrive. -- The ESSN is the largest humanitarian cash assistance program in the world, and it is funded by the European Union. The ESSN has been implemented nationwide in Turkey in coordination and collaboration with the Turkish Red Crescent and International Federation of Red Cross and Crescent Societies (IFRC). We reach more than 1.5 million refugees in Turkey through the ESSN, and we give cash assistance to the most vulnerable populations to make sure they meet their basic needs and live a dignified life. The Turkish Red Crescent with its 19 community centres throughout Turkey supports millions of refugees as well as host communities. The Centres provide several courses, vocational trainings, social cohesion activities, health, psychosocial support, and protection services, among others.

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18/01/2022 | Press release

#PowerToBe campaign launches to help shift perceptions of refugees

Ankara/Berlin, 18 January 2022 -The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) has launched a campaign to tackle negative perceptions of refugees at an increasingly critical time across Europe. The #PowerToBe campaign follows four passionate Syrians living in Turkey – Hiba, a musician, Eslam, an illustrator, Ibrahim, a swimmer and Mohammed, a coffee lover – who are regaining control of their lives through the help of monthly cash assistance funded by the EU, ultimately giving them more power to be themselves. The four protagonists each meet digitally with influential people from Germany, Italy, Sweden, Turkey, Portugal and Poland who share a common passion for music, art, water sports and coffee. The campaign shows how people from all walks of life can connect with one another at eye-level despite differences in language or backgrounds. In the #PowerToBe campaign, fifteen-year-old drawer Eslam speaks to well-known German illustrator Steffen Kraft, Italian street artist and painter Alice Pasquini and Swedish street artist Johan Karlgren about her passion for illustration. “Drawing a lot helped me to show the world, even if only a little, what happened in Syria,” Eslam said. Ibrahim, who became paralyzed during the conflict in Syria, connects with Polish professional high diver, Kris Kolanus about the freedom and boundlessness they both feel in the ocean. “Even though many things can hinder me, I am trying to do something. For next year, I’m preparing myself to swim the competition across the Bosporus.” Mohammed, a father of two, talks to Turkish coffee bean suppliers Hasibe and Ümit about his passion and memories associated with coffee. “When we came to Turkey to an empty house, we had nothing at all. Some Turkish brothers helped us, gave us some furniture.” They tasted his coffee and told him it was “the best they’ve ever had”. Hiba, who now attends a music school in Istanbul, connected with Portuguese singer-songwriter April Ivy, whom she wrote and sang a song with. “I like to give people hope because whatever struggles we go through, there are actually nice things happening as well,” Hiba says. Turkey is currently home to the world’s largest refugee population with almost four million who are trying to rebuild their lives. About 3.7 million of those are Syrians who fled the conflict that has devastated their country. Funded by the European Union, the Emergency Social Safety Net (ESSN) is the biggest humanitarian programme in the history of the EU and provides monthly cash assistance via debit cards to nearly 1.5 million vulnerable refugees in Turkey. The ESSN is implemented by the Turkish Red Crescent and the IFRC in coordination with the Government of Turkey. The cash assistance helps give refugees some relief from an exceptionally challenging year where many are facing deepening debt and poverty due to the secondary impacts of COVID-19. Cash assistance helps give people like Hiba, Eslam, Mohammed and Ibrahim freedom and dignity to decide for themselves how to cover essential needs like rent, transport, bills, food, and medicine. At the same time, it provides the opportunity to invest back into communities that host them, supporting the local Turkish economy. This year we have seen vulnerable refugee communities slip further into hardships, but we also see their hope and strength. Through this campaign, we wanted to highlight the contributions and resilience they have despite all the challenges. When given the right support, refugees’ potential is endless. Jagan Chapagain IFRC Secretary General Hiba, Eslam, Ibrahim and Mohammed were forced to leave everything behind, but have held on to their dreams and continued to pursue them with passion. The ESSN programme offers a critical lifeline to them and 1.5 million other vulnerable refugees in Turkey, many of whom have been especially hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic. We are proud to see the tangible difference it makes by giving them the opportunity to make choices for their lives. Janez Lenarčič EU Commissioner for Crisis Management More information Click here to download more information about the #PowerToBe campaign, including short backgrounds on each of the people receiving ESSN assistance and the influencers taking part. You can also visit the #PowerToBe website and learn more about the ESSN on our website here. To arrange interviews, please contact: In Berlin: Samantha Hendricks (Social Social), +49 1577 495 8901, [email protected] In Turkey: Nisa Çetin (Turkish Red Crescent), +90 554 830 31 14, [email protected] In Turkey: Corrie Butler (IFRC), +90 539 857 51 98, [email protected] In Turkey: Lisa Hastert (ECHO), +90 533 412 56 63. [email protected]

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16/12/2021 | Press release

Red Cross Red Crescent reaching 1.5 million people on the move in MENA, yet millions are left without support

Beirut, 16 December 2021 – Red Cross and Red Crescent National Societies are reaching more than 1.5 million migrants, refugees and internally displaced people (IDPs) in the Middle East and North Africa, yet the number of people on the move left without essential support is colossal, a report by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) has found. Ahead of International Migrants Day on 18 December, the IFRC is calling for a stronger commitment to support people on the move during their journey, not only once they have managed to reach their planned destination – if they ever do. Fabrizio Anzolini, Migration Regional Advisor for IFRC MENA, said: “Countless migrants face inhumane conditions along their way, including violence, lack of food, shelter and access to health services. Climate change and conflicts are only expected to accelerate the number of people migrating out of the region in the coming months and years. We need to act right now on the routes and advocating for durable solutions.” The region, with more than 40 million migrants and 14 million internally displaced people, has some of the world’s longest protracted conflicts, combined with frequent natural disasters, man-made crises and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Regional hotspots include the population movement from Afghanistan to Iran, the migration flows from Morocco, Tunisia and Libya to Europe, the extensive number of internally displaced persons in Syria, as well as the route from the Horn of Africa to Yemen, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states. Rania Ahmed, IFRC MENA Deputy Regional Director, said: “Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies are reaching more than 1.5 million migrants and displaced people in the Middle East and North Africa, but it is not enough. We need bigger investment and greater long-term commitment to address their plight. We need to mobilize all efforts and resources to ensure people on the move receive humanitarian assistance and protection. Migrants and displaced populations are intensely vulnerable and must be included in COVID-19 prevention, response, and recovery plans. We urge governments to ensure that people on the move have equal access to vaccinations, health care and basic services.” With the engagement of the IFRC, Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies in the MENA region are on the frontline attempting to cover the enormous gap between people’s needs and the support that is available for them. Red Cross and Red Crescent teams provide multidisciplinary assistance, including health services, livelihood support, protection for children and victims of violence, mental health, and psychosocial support, as well as cash assistance. These support services are also widely available to host communities, leaving no one behind. Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies remain committed to continue responding to the needs of migrants and displaced people as well as advocating for the support that they need at country, regional and global levels through evidence-based humanitarian diplomacy. However, their continued activities are hampered by shrinking funding. In addition, access to migrants is often limited, especially in conflict zones and due to restrictions put in place to curb the COVID-19 pandemic. You can access the full report here: MENA Red Cross and Red Crescent Activities on Migration and Displacement – Snapshot 2021. The survey includes responses from twelve Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies in the Middle East and North Africa. For more information or to arrange an interview, contact: In Geneva: Rana Sidani Cassou, +41 766715751 / +33 675945515, [email protected] In Beirut: Jani Savolainen, +961 70372812 / +358 504667831, [email protected]

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26/08/2021 | Press release

IFRC launches multiregional plan to ramp up humanitarian assistance to migrants and displaced people

Geneva, 26 August 2021– The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) launched today a three-year plan to extend humanitarian assistance and support to migrants and displaced people along the migration routes of greatest humanitarian concern in Africa, the Middle East and Europe, three regions facing some of the most complex and critical migration dynamics in the world. As a global humanitarian network with a presence in 192 countries and 14 million community-based volunteers, the IFRC witnesses every day the enormous suffering that many migrants and displaced people face along their journeys. Xavier Castellanos, IFRC Under Secretary General, National Society Development and Operations Coordination, said: “Migrants and displaced people are taking increasingly dangerous routes, both across land and sea. During their journeys, they face significant risks and challenges: many are abused and face exploitation – others face protection risks, including child abuse, sexual and gender-based violence and human trafficking. We are extremely concerned that migrants and displaced people are not able, at all stages of their journey, to access what they need most – such as food, water and sanitation, shelter, and healthcare. Our multiregional humanitarian assistance plan aims to bridge this gap”. The IFRC multiregional plan brings together humanitarian operations of 34 National Societies across Africa, the Middle East and Europe and focuses on delivering humanitarian assistance and protection to over 2 million people and more than 500,000 individuals from host communities every year. In order to extend humanitarian assistance to a growing number of people in need, the IFRC is appealing for financial support totalling 174 million Swiss francs over three years. The plan also includes assistance and protection to people in distress at sea on the Central Mediterranean route. Through a partnership with SOS MEDITERRANEE, a European maritime and humanitarian organization operating in the Mediterranean Sea, the IFRC will provide life-saving support to people rescued at sea as of early September 2021. SOS MEDITERRANEE will conduct search and rescue operations at sea, while IFRC will provide post-rescue support — including medical care, psychological support, protection and basic necessities — to the people who have been safely brought onboard the Ocean Viking. The IFRC team includes medical doctors, a midwife and professionals who can provide psychological support and assist those who are particularly vulnerable and in need of special protection, such as unaccompanied minors and victims of human trafficking. The long-standing commitment and experience of the IFRC network in providing assistance and protection to all migrants all along their migratory journeys allows for an integrated and comprehensive response, based on people’s needs and vulnerabilities. Our principled approach to migration, as well as our global presence along migratory routes, mean that we are uniquely positioned to provide humanitarian assistance and protection at all steps of migrants’ journeys – in countries of origin, transit and destination. To learn more about the plan, download the document(pdf, 18 Mb). For more information and to set up interviews, contact: In Geneva: Nathalie Perroud, +41 79 538 14 71, [email protected]

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25/11/2021 | Emergency

Belarus and neighbouring countries: population movement

Since May 2021, a growing number of people crossed, or attempted to cross, from Belarus into neighbouring Lithuania and Poland. This Emergency Appeal enables the IFRC to support the National Red Cross Societies of Belarus, Poland and Lithuania (and potentially other countries as the situation develops) to provide broad and integrated humanitarian assistance to thousands of people on the move. Support includes: food and water, hygiene kits, warm clothes and footwear, raincoats, blankets, sleeping bags, nutrition for children, COVID-related information, personal protective equipment, psychosocial support and restoring family links services as well as first aid and medical referral support.

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18/03/2017 | Emergency

Bangladesh: Population movement

Several years since the mass displacement of people from Rakhine, Myanmar into Bangladesh began, the vast majority of those displaced (an estimated 896,879 people) are completely reliant on humanitarian aid to meet their everyday needs. The IFRC and Bangladesh Red Crescent (BDRCS) have been supporting both displaced people and host communities since the very start of this protracted crisis. Our revised appeal marks a new phase of our support to the BDRCS to help them provide wide-ranging assistance to people in Cox's Bazar and on Bhashan Char island.

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25/09/2021 | Emergency

Afghanistan: Regional population movement

The situation in Afghanistan remains precarious and uncertain following the change of leadership in August 2021, and as multiple political, socio-economic, climate-related and humanitarian shocks reverberate across the country. This Emergency Appeal supports preparedness and priority humanitarian response for population movement from Afghanistan to neighbouring countries, focusing on Tajikistan (and potentially other countries in Central Asia), Iran and Pakistan. This includes a focus on the response capacity and readiness of National Societies and host communities.

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28/09/2021 | Press release

IFRC launches emergency appeal to prepare for and respond to population movements from Afghanistan

Geneva, 28 September 2021 – The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) has recently launched a multi-country emergency appeal focused on preparedness and response efforts to population movements from Afghanistan into neighbouring countries and the wider region. Afghanistan faces an alarming humanitarian emergency and a worsening economic crisis, both likely to be further exacerbated by the approaching winter season. Access to banking services has been severely constrained, with cashflow crippled. A rapid deterioration of humanitarian conditions in Afghanistan could result in catastrophic consequences for vulnerable Afghans and could lead to further internal and cross-border displacement. Xavier Castellanos, IFRC Under Secretary General, National Society Development and Operations Coordination, said: “Millions of people in Afghanistan are suffering from compounded crises, such as severe drought, food and water shortages, internal displacement, the COVID-19 pandemic, a fractured health system, limited access to banking services, and restrictive social norms. Winter is approaching and we know it can be harsh. Many Afghans could cross international borders in the coming months. We need to prepare to provide them with protection and humanitarian assistance”. To support Red Cross and Red Crescent National Societies in preparing for and responding to population movements from Afghanistan, the IFRC is appealing to donors with a funding requirement of more than 24 million Swiss francs. This amount would allow IFRC and its National Societies to continue their preparedness efforts to provide humanitarian assistance and protection to around 160,000 people crossing from Afghanistan into neighbouring countries and the wider region, for an initial period of twelve months. Priority countries of the emergency appeal include Iran, Pakistan, and Tajikistan. Other countries in Central Asia could also be involved in preparedness efforts. National Societies in neighbouring countries and the wider region have a long history of providing humanitarian assistance and protection to people from Afghanistan. Building on their technical experience in emergency response, National Societies stand ready to increase support to newly arriving Afghans, including with emergency shelter and essential household items; food; healthcare; water, sanitation, and hygiene; and protection of the most at risk, including women, children, and marginalized groups. The IFRC operational strategy remains flexible and will be constantly adapted based on the evolving situation, as well as people’s most urgent needs. The emergency appeal can be accessed from this webpage:Afghanistan – Regional population movement For more information, contact: In Geneva: Nathalie Perroud, +41 79 538 14 71, [email protected]

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30/04/2021 | Basic page

Migration: our programmes

Around the world, our 192 Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies are a lifeline for vulnerable migrants and displaced people—whoever and wherever they are on their journeys.

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26/01/2021 | Emergency

Ethiopia’s crisis and its humanitarian consequences

The humanitarian situation in Ethiopia and prevailing outlook remain of grave concern. An estimated 23 million people in Ethiopia are in need of humanitarian assistance across the country due to the combined consequences of conflict, drought, epidemics, food insecurity, pest outbreaks, and population movement. Through this Emergency Appeal, the IFRC is supporting the Ethiopian Red Cross Society, Sudanese Red Crescent Society and Djibouti Red Crescent Society to scale up their live-saving humanitarian response and preparedness for future needs.

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20/09/2021 | Press release

IFRC ramps up humanitarian assistance as record number of migrants cross the perilous Darién Gap

Panama City/Geneva, 20 September 2021 – The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is ramping up efforts to provide protection and humanitarian assistance to migrants travelling through the Darién Gap, one of the most dangerous migratory routes in the world. Between January and August of 2021, 70,376 migrants (including 13,655 children) have crossed the Panamanian jungle, an amount in par with the total number of migrants over the last five years. In the past few years, the Darién Gap has become a common transit point for migrants headed north, but the latest figure vastly surpasses the high numbers of 2016, when 30,000 people made the crossing throughout the whole year. In comparison, in August 2021 alone, 25,361 people have used this route. Martha Keays, Regional Director for the Americas at IFRC, said: “As the pandemic and its impacts persist, the number of migrants crossing the Darién Gap has hit all-time highs this year. In Panama, we have seen between 600 and 1,300 people entering the country every day. They face many risks during their journey through the jungle, often showing signs of physical and mental trauma. The Red Cross is there to support them to meet their basic needs, such as safe water, sanitation, healthcare, protection, information and psychological support.” In response to the growing number of people crossing the Darien Gap, the IFRC has activated its Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF) to scale up support to migrants in collaboration with the Panamanian Red Cross. The humanitarian response is focused on the distribution of clean water; promotion of community and personal hygiene; and distribution of essential items, such as mosquito nets. It also includes provision of healthcare and protection services; and the increase of capacities to deliver psychological support. In addition, the DREF supports the Costa Rican Red Cross to prepare for a possible increase in the number of migrants transiting through Costa Rica. In Colombia, at the end of August 2021, more than 10,000 migrants were waiting in the village of Necoclí at the border between Colombia and Panama, an entry point into the Darién Gap. The Colombian Red Cross is providing them with information about their journey; distributing personal protective equipment against COVID-19; and providing health and protection services to assist vulnerable communities. According to the Panamanian authorities, migrants of around 40 nationalities have crossed the Darién Gap this year. They come from Asian and African nations, such as Angola, Burkina Faso, Mauritania, Nigeria, Pakistan and Uzbekistan, but also from Latin America and the Caribbean. Many people are Haitian and Cuban, and there has also been an increase in the number of Venezuelan migrants. “Some of the people currently crossing the Darién Gap have left their home countries years ago to start a new life in South America. But socio-economic disparities, stigma, discrimination, and the COVID-19 pandemic have caused them to lose their jobs or homes, and now they are facing impossible options, such as migrating once again. Access to basic services, such as food, water, sanitation, medical care, housing, essential information, and access to COVID-19 vaccines must be guaranteed to all, regardless of legal status”, added Keays. The IFRC and its network of Red Cross National Societies have activated a monitoring system to track the population movement from the Southern Cone to Guatemala, including the migratory routes across the Andean countries, the Darién Gap, and Central America. They are also monitoring the evolution of the humanitarian situation in Haiti and Afghanistan, as the increase of humanitarian needs in those countries could lead to further displacement and migration along the Darién route. In Panama, the IFRC and the Panamanian Red Cross, with support from the European Union, UNICEF and other partners, have been responding to the needs of migrants crossing the Darién for the last three years. Since 2019, they have provided more than 20,000 humanitarian interventions including psychosocial support, health care, access to water, and information on the migratory route. For more information and to set up interviews, contact: In Panama: Susana Arroyo Barrantes, + 506 8416 1771, [email protected] In Geneva: Nathalie Perroud, +41 79 538 14 71, [email protected]

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19/07/2021 | Emergency

Central Mediterranean population movement: Humanitarian Service Point at sea

In 2021, there was a sharp increase in the number of migrants attempting the deadly Central Mediterranean route. This emergency operation seeks a total of 2.4 million Swiss francs to enable the IFRC to provide humanitarian services on the sea section of this route. The IFRC is working in partnership with SOS Mediterranée with the objective of reducing human suffering and preventing loss of life through a fully able-to-assist rescue ship.

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