Emergency health

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30/11/2023 | Press release

3 billion mosquito nets shipped to prevent malaria

Geneva – 30 Nov 2023 / On the same day the World Health Organization releases its 2023 World Malaria Report, the  Alliance for Malaria Prevention (AMP) reveals that a significant milestone has been reached. Three billion insecticide treated nets (ITNs) have been shipped since 2004 to prevent malaria, most of them to countries in sub-Saharan Africa. These ITNs are estimated to be responsible for two-thirds of the reduction in malaria cases over the past decades. Thanks to the efforts of national malaria programmes and partners, about 68% of households across sub-Saharan Africa own at least one net. Most of these nets have been bought via funds from The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, the United States President’s Malaria Initiative, UNICEF and the Against Malaria Foundation (AMF).  In 2022 alone, more than 190 million ITNs were distributed globally by National Malaria Programmes in malaria endemic countries. Of these 180 million were distributed in sub-Saharan Africa.  Petra Khoury, Director of the Health and Care Department at the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, which houses the Alliance for Malaria Prevention (AMP), said:  “Three billion is a staggering number – a number reached by phenomenal efforts by people in many countries. Those nets have, over two decades, saved countless lives. Malaria will continue to be a threat, particularly in a warming world. But insecticide treated nets are the most effective tool we have to tackle it.”    In 2004, Togo rolled out the very first nationwide mosquito net campaign targeting children under five years of age with an integrated package of life-saving interventions. Twenty years and six ITN mass distribution campaigns later, Dr Tinah Atcha-Oubou, coordinator of the Togo National Malaria Control Program (NMCP), says the mass distribution of bed nets has had a dramatically positive impact on malaria mortality and mobility. Dr Atcha-Oubou says the NMCP in Togo is aiming for malaria elimination.   ‘We have a vision for our country, a Togo without malaria. We want to free communities from the burden of malaria to improve the economic growth of Togo. Malaria prevention strategies have shown promising results, we also have access to efficient tools to reach this goal. We are hopeful that we can eliminate malaria in the same way that many other countries already have’.   Access to and use of mosquito nets are essential to keep Togo on track for malaria elimination. Investments from partners at national and international level must continue to ensure that the country can keep working towards this goal.  The Alliance for Malaria Prevention’s Net Mapping Project has been independently tracking net shipments from the very first national campaign in 2004 in Togo. The Net Mapping Project data informs the World Health Organization’s World Malaria Report each year, feeding into modeled estimates of ITN coverage across the globe.  Global partners commented on the milestone:  ‘Nets are one of the best tools in our arsenal in the fight to end malaria. The U.S. President’s Malaria Initiative is proud to support this historic milestone and applauds the work of AMP and our partners to strengthen the capacity of national malaria programs to distribute nets to the communities that need them most and to track and report data.’  Dr. David Walton, U.S. President’s Global Malaria Coordinator  “The Global Fund remains committed to improving the lives of communities suffering under the burden of malaria. Helping the countries we support ensure optimal vector control coverage is a cornerstone of our malaria strategy. The milestone of 3 billion ITNs should be celebrated and act as catalyst to further drive towards achieving and sustaining this life saving intervention.”  Scott Filler, Head of Malaria, Technical Advice and Partnerships Department, Global Fund  "This landmark achievement of shipping 3 billion insecticide-treated mosquito nets (ITNs) represents a crucial step forward in our fight against malaria. The widespread distribution of ITNs with intensive Behaviour Change Communication at community level has contributed significantly to reducing malaria transmission, protecting vulnerable populations, and saving lives.   Keziah Malm, National Coordination of National Malaria Elimination Program in Ghana  Further Information: In the last few years, an increasing proportion of ITNs shipped have contained active ingredients designed to mitigate the effects of insecticide resistance. In 2022, of the 281.5 million ITNs that manufacturers delivered to malaria endemic countries, 47% were treated with a synergist, pyrethroid-piperonyl butoxide (PBO), and 8% were dual active ingredient ITNs, which have combined insecticides with different modes of action.  While protecting people from malaria remains critical, the global community also recognises the environmental footprint of ITNs for vector control from the point of manufacture through exit from the supply chain given the heavy reliance on plastic for the nets themselves and their packaging. Responsible collection and disposal of plastic waste at the point of distribution and as nets become unserviceable for malaria prevention is, therefore, an integral part of many national malaria programmes’ vector control strategies.  Global and national stakeholders and partners are working together to find solutions to limit the amount of waste generated and to ensure more sustainable and environmentally focused supply chains for vector control with ITNs.    Despite the efforts of national malaria programs and their funding, the latest World Malaria Report notes that global malaria cases and deaths in 2022 were higher than in 2019, mostly due to the disruption of services during the COVID19 pandemic. Countries most affected include Pakistan, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Uganda and Papua New Guinea. The World Health Organization estimates that there were 608’000 malaria deaths in 2022 – 32’000 more deaths than in the year before the pandemic.   The 2023 World Malaria Report also highlights that the funding gap between the amount invested in malaria control and elimination and the resources needed continues to widen. It grew from US$2.3 billion in 2018 to US$ 3.7 billion globally in 2022. Despite the shortage of funding, continued research and development to address insecticide resistance reinforced efforts of national malaria programs and their partners to deliver services to all populations at risk. Significant work to generate sufficient funding to support national malaria strategic plans remain critical in ensuring that the fight against malaria remains on track towards the WHO 2030 targets.    For further details please contact: [email protected]   Andrew Thomas   International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent +41763676587  Tommaso Della Longa   International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent +41797084367  There are spokespeople available to talk about this announcement, including Petra Khoury, the IFRC’s Director of Health and Care.    Partners:   The Alliance for Malaria Prevention receives funding support from USAID, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) and the United Nations Foundation (UNF).  Since 2013, the Net Mapping Project has been funded by the United Nations Foundation and the IFRC. 

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22/11/2023 | Article

Central African Republic: Red Cross project gives a boost to a weakened health system

IFRC's Muriel Atsama and Bienvenue Doumta, head of communications at the Central African Red Cross, visited several of these facilities and filed this report. It's 7.30 am when we arrive at the Sakai health centre. On the benches outside, several patients are waiting to be examined by Don de Dieu, who is the head nurse that day. Among the many patients sitting on the benches is Rebecca, who is holding her sick daughter in her hand. "My family and I used to come here for consultations when we were ill," she says. "The nurses treat us well and we get free medication”. Located about thirty kilometres from the capital, Bangui, the Sakai centre receives patients from 36 villages. Renovated in 2020 by the Central African Red Cross (CARC), it previously consisted of a single building made of earth and was in a state of advanced deterioration. Now the centre now has two buildings, including a maternity hospital, a room for maternal, child-health and family-planning, a child consultation room, and a child hospitalisation room. There is also a dispensary with a five-bed hospital ward, a treatment room, a laboratory, and a pharmacy. In previous years, the centre had only the bare minimum to accommodate and treat patients. The renovation and equipping of the centre by the Red Cross has been a breath of fresh air for the whole village. The aim of these renovations was to make the Minimum Package of Activities, a basic standard for heath services, available to the people here. "The health centre has changed a lot and has really improved," adds Rebecca. "We can see it in the equipment the nurses use to look after us. Today, more than ever, we come here for consultations, and we're satisfied." For Don de Dieu, these improvements also make it possible to offer hospital services to a greater number of people, consistently and over a longer period. "Thanks to the project, we have benefited from solar panels that provide continuous electricity," he explains. "We can now carry out patient examinations at any time and store our products in better conditions". The centre has also received an incinerator for waste management, as well as beds, office space, a waste-sorting shed and a borehole for pumping water from the ground. "Thanks to this new facility, the number of patients attending the Sakai health centre has increased exponentially", adds Don de Dieu. "From around a hundred patients a month in the past, we now welcome more than 500 patients from the surrounding villages.” Pride of the village A little further on, we meet Charles, the chief of the village of Sakaï. He explains that this new building is the pride of his village and the surrounding villages. What's more, his entire community gets safe drinking water from the borehole. "The borehole at the Sakaï health centre is a source of water that serves the whole community," says Charles. The Sakai health centre is not the only one to have benefited from these rehabilitations. A total of 14 other health centres across the country and one hospital have received a wide range of equipment, including an ambulance, an X-ray machine and other equipment required to meet the necessary standards. Our visit continued at Bangui University's Faculty of Health Sciences, where we were welcomed by the Dean, Professor Boniface Koffi. "Thanks to the Red Cross and its donors, all the offices have been renovated,” he said. “The roofs of some buildings have been replaced, as has the electricity. We have also received office furniture, around 1,200 chairs and tables for the comfort of our students, as well as around twenty microscopes.” The University of Bangui was founded in 1969, and the two buildings that make up the Faculty of Science and Health were constructed in 1970 and 1980. Since then, they had not been renovated, and crises weakened them. A perfect illustration In addition to this equipment, the Red Cross has equipped the faculty's digital library with 35 desktop computers, eight laptops and video projectors. "We are very grateful for this major donation from the Central African Red Cross, which has breathed new life into our faculty,” he concludes. “But as you know, the hand that receives asks for more. We would like to have many more classrooms to accommodate and train even more students. Our country badly needs them for the well-being of the population". Our journey ends at the Central African Red Cross University Institute for Paramedical Training, where we are welcomed by Honorine Konzelo, Director of the Institute studies. Created in 2010, the initial building was constructed at the CARC headquarters. Following the crisis that hit the country, the institute was relocated to an abandoned primary school that was in urgent need of renovation. Today, it has three laboratory rooms, a library and lecture theatres. The Red Cross is also paying the salary of the staff accountant, who has also worked as a teacher since the project began. "Our institute is a perfect illustration of the Red Cross's commitment to the well-being of young people, who need high-quality training, and to the population, which needs qualified health workers," says Ms Honorine. The CAR health system reconstruction project has been implemented by the Central African Red Cross since 2018 thanks to technical support from IFRC. Funded by the Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau (KFW), the project is in its second phase of implementation, which will run until 2026.

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21/09/2023 | Speech

IFRC Secretary General statement at the High-level meeting of the General Assembly on Universal Health Coverage

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen. UHC political declaration marks one of the most ambitious gatherings on health. I am happy to share the perspective of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies on this important topic. Through our experience reaching 1 billion people with health services during COVID-19, I can tell you that a primary health care approach is the only way we stand a chance to achieve universal health coverage and to ensure no one is left behind, both in times of crisis and stability. Resilient health systems focused on primary health care (PHC) with enough trained health workers, data capacity, and well-functioning basic services are better prepared to prevent and respond to health emergencies. Health emergencies often differ from other emergencies in their complexities, their scope, durations, and in response approach. Here are the shifts needed to embed the PHC during health emergencies, this comes from the IFRC study on recent COVID19 pandemic: First and foremost: trust. Governments must do the groundwork to build trust with the public before health emergencies - people won’t use even the best health systems if they don’t trust them. How do we do this? -Proximity: People trust people they know, such as community members. -Education: People trust what they understand, via health literacy programmes. -Listening: People trust those who listen to them and act on their concerns, such as trained community engagement specialists who gather feedback and analyse it. -Access to services: People trust those who address their needs, including their basic health and social protection needs. -Ownership: People trust measures they feel ownership of and are consulted on. Second is equity. Do not exclude anyone. Equity is fundamental element of embedding PHC during emergencies. Migrants, refugees and other disadvantaged communities are the worst impacted by health emergencies. We need to address formal and informal barriers to access to health and other essential services, including stigma and discrimination. Data driven decision making significantly helps to ensure inclusion. Embedding a PHC approach requires integrating health information systems to facilitate real time data sharing and evidence-based decision making. Finally, local action. Strong Community Health Systems that combine the power of communities and technologies: We must prioritize health systems strengthening at the community level, with a well-resourced and protected community health workforce to match. To do this, a much greater portion of existing health financing needs to go to the local level. Universal health Coverage plans must be tailored to the communities they serve by putting them at the center of policy design. It is groundbreaking that governments have committed in paragraph 104 of the declaration to involve local communities in the design of universal health coverage plans, and to find ways of enhancing participatory and inclusive approaches to health governance. Excellencies, humanitarian needs are only growing, and global health is at a crossroads: without systemic change, we will only achieve health for some, and not health for all. Strong governance and leadership are expected of all of us. In the decades since the Alma-Ata Declaration, the international community has focused more on diseases rather than on individuals, and on treatment rather than on prevention. We can’t continue down the same path and expect a different result. Today must represent a shift towards a community-driven, primary health care-first model to global health systems. Thank you.

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07/09/2023 | Article

New IFRC podcast introduces the 'People in the Red Vest’

When disaster strikes, the sight of someone wearing a red vest is a sign that help has arrived. It’s a powerful symbol of hope and comfort amid the chaos following an emergency, worn by members of the IFRC and its 191 member Red Cross and Red Crescent National Societies. And now it’s also a symbol of our brand new podcast. Launching on 12 September across all major streaming services, People in the Red Vest is a twice-monthly podcast that features inspiring stories of people from across the IFRC network. They’ll speak about their personal experiences of responding to the world's biggest humanitarian crises and what inspires them to keep going. The first episode features IFRC Secretary General Jagan Chapagain, who talks about his recent missions to several countries in Africa impacted by an acute hunger crisis, and to Slovenia, hit by severe flooding. He also speaks of his upcoming trip to New York for the United Nations General Assembly and shares what inspired his own personal humanitarian journey. “One thing that always stuck into my head was something Albert Einstein said, ‘You live a real life by making a difference in someone else's,’” said Chapagain, who was 14 when he became a volunteer for the Nepal Red Cross. Keenly interested in science from a young age, Chapagain is an engineer by training. But it was his first job, helping refugees in Nepal, that steered him down the humanitarian path. “Just listening to the refugees’ stories, their dreams and plans for their families... in many ways, that cemented my belief that if you want to live a satisfied life, you should do something for others,” he adds. Upcoming guests include: A regional leader in the fight against food insecurity in Africa, Ambassador Mahabub Maalim, who also serves as advisor to IFRC’s response to the current hunger crisis in Africa (now impacting 23 countries). He shares his thoughts on how to break cycles of food insecurity in the face of the climate crisis, as well as his own personal experiences growing up with hunger in eastern Kenya. Nena Stoiljkovic, a leader in the world of humanitarian and development finance who serves as IFRC’s Under Secretary General for Global Relations, Diplomacy and Digitalization. She talks about her life-long passion for using innovative financing and partnerships to help people and communities bounce back from hardship, as well as her experiences as a woman leader in the still male-dominated world of finance and development. Future episodes will also include people working at the heart of IFRC emergency and recovery operations around the world, as well as volunteers and leaders from its member National Societies. They will share their own compelling and inspiring stories and their thoughts on new trends in technology and humanitarian response, how to make our operations more inclusive and equitable, and what makes them to keep going despite the mounting challenges. In each episode, the guests will also tell us what the Red Vest symbolizes to them. If you’re curious, subscribe and join us wherever you listen to your podcasts.

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06/09/2023 | Article

Three months after the Kakhovka Dam disaster, Ukraine Red Cross still stands by affected communities

When the Kakhovka Dam in southern Ukraine collapsed in June, a torrent of water poured over downstream towns and farmlands, reducing homes to rubble and leading to the tragic loss of many lives. The flood swept up everything in its path, washing farm animals, unexploded mines, hazardous chemicals and dangerous bacteria—such as salmonella, E. coli, and cholera—down toward the Dnipro-Buh Delta on the Black Sea. The Ukraine Red Cross Society’s (URCS) response to the dam disaster was swift. From the moment the dam collapsed, their volunteers began evacuating people from flooded areas and distributing essentials such as food, hygiene products and water purification equipment. Psychosocial support specialists were also on hand to help people cope during those difficult first days. But recovering from a disaster like this doesn’t happen overnight. Three months on, URCS teams remain firmly by the side of communities to help them get their lives back on track. “People's needs have changed but have not disappeared," says Serhiy Moroz, a URCS volunteer. "In many populated areas, people are attempting to return to their previous lives in damaged housing and amidst disruptions in centralized water supply services. Often, water systems are simply non-existent, leaving people to suffer from a lack of clean water. This creates significant household challenges as well as risks to public health." The IFRC recently deployed an Emergency Response Unit or 'ERU'—a team of specialized personnel and equipment from across the IFRC network—to Kropyvnytskyi city to support the Ukraine Red Crescent Society’s work restoring access to safe water. Marco Skodak, the ERU team leader, details their efforts: "We're launching Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) activities in response to the dam's destruction. URCS volunteers are undergoing training to provide assistance, and, working alongside our specialists, they are already on the ground conducting needs assessments and establishing crucial water purification systems and pipelines." By training up the Ukraine Red Cross Society in this way, the IFRC network is ensuring that communities get the long-term assistance they need to recover, and that volunteers have an even greater ability to respond should a similar disaster ever occur in future. -- Click here to learn about how the IFRC is supporting local humanitarian action, including the different types of ERUs we can deploy. And click here to learn more about the IFRC’s work in Water, Sanitation and Hygiene.

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21/04/2023 | Article

Sudan conflict: Sudanese Red Crescent Society and IFRC teams responding

Latest information Sudan: Complex emergency- our Emergency Appeal to support people inside Sudan Sudan crisis: Regional population movement- our Emergency Appeal to support people fleeing the conflict to neighbouring countries -- Fighting broke out in Marawei military base, Sudan on 15 April and then escalated rapidly in Khartoum and across the country. Reports indicate that hundreds of peoplehave lost their lives, with thousands more wounded and in need of urgent medical attention. Civilians are unable to access food or water because shops remain closed and their safety is not assured. Basic services like electricity and internet services have been disrupted. So far, hundreds of thousands of people have been displaced internally or fled across borders to seek safety in neighbouring countries. Medical personnel are struggling to access health facilities due to the fighting. Hospitals that are usually re-stocked every 2-3 days are now going weeks withoutsupplies. Some of the most urgent needs in hospitals are first aid kits, diesel for power generators, stretchers, and beds, as well as transportation for medical staff and volunteers. This latest flare-up of violence threatens to worsen a humanitarian crisis in a region that has suffered from years of violence, instability, economic hardship andfood insecurity. Our response so far More than 200 Sudanese Red Crescent Society (SRCS) volunteers have been deployed in Khartoum to offer first aid services and psychosocial support to those affected. Hundreds of volunteers have also been deployed in other states; North Darfur, South Darfur and Northern State (Merawi) to offer first aid services in hospitals. Volunteers are running a family reunification service for people who have been separated from their loved ones, offering psychosocial support to those who have lost contact. On 2 May we launched an Emergency Appeal for Sudanfor 30 million Swiss francsto scale-up the Sudanese Red Crescent Society's local, life-saving action in the country, in collaboration and coordination with members of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement. The IFRC has also made the following funding allocations to National Societies through ourDisaster Response Emergency Fund(DREF): 475,320 Swiss francs to the Sudanese Red Crescent Societyto enable them to provide health services, psychosocial support, and search and rescue efforts across multiple states. Find out more. 137,369 Swiss francs to the Chad Red Cross to help them support the growing number of people fleeing the conflict and crossing the border into Chad. Find out more. 305,832Swiss francs to the Egyptian Red Crescent to help them support the growing number of people fleeing the conflict and crossing the border into Egypt.Find out more. 485,297 Swiss francs to the Ethiopian Red Crossto help them support the growing number of people fleeing the conflict and crossing the border into Ethiopia. Find out more. 355,567 Swiss francs to the South Sudan Red Crossto help them support the growing number of people fleeing the conflict and crossing the border into South Sudan. Find out more. 223,438 Swiss francs to the Central African Republic Red Cross to help themsupport the growing number of people fleeing the conflict and crossing the border into Central African Republic. Find out more. We continue to call on parties involved in the conflict to provide vital humanitarian space. With every single hour that the wounded and the sick cannot receive urgent assistance, the human toll continues to grow. Health-care facilities must be protected, and their personnel and transport must be given safe passage. It is an urgent priority for us to be able to reach these facilities and for maintenance teams to reach power and water stations. For more information English: Reuters article 'Red Cross warns of possible humanitarian disaster on Sudan-Chad border'(23 May) Audio report from IFRC Deputy Regional Director for Africa (17 May) Press release about an IFRC shipment of aid arriving in Port Sudan (16 May) Audio update from IFRC Africa Migration and Displacement Coordinator (5 May) SciDev.net article 'Sudan conflict leaves health system in 'total collapse'quotingIFRC Head of Country office for Sudan (27 April) Audio report from IFRC Operations Manager in Sudan, Mohamed El Amin Ibrahim (26 April) ABC interview with Farid Abdulkadir, IFRC Head of Country office for Sudan (25 April) Al Jazeera English interview with Farid Abdulkadir, IFRC Head of Country office for Sudan (20 April) Reuters article 'Almost impossible to provide aid in Sudanese capital', quotingIFRC Head of Country office for Sudan (April 18) Other languages: (Arabic) AlQAhera interview with IFRC MENA Regional Head of Disasters (28 April) (Arabic) AlQAhera interview with IFRC Head of Country office for Sudan (25 April) (Spanish) El Pais article quotingOsama Osman, Director of Communications at the Sudanese Red Crescent Society (19 April) Media enquiries If you are a journalist and would like more information or to request an interview about this emergency, please contact [email protected] Follow these Twitter accounts for the latest updates: IFRC Africa Regional Team: @IFRCAfrica Sudanese Red Crescent Society: @SRCS_SD Farid Abdulkadir, IFRC Head of Country office for Sudan: @FARID1969 @IFRC Donations If you would like to donate to help us support people affected by the conflict in Sudan, please click here. We are grateful for your valuable support. You can learn more about donating to the IFRC here.

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04/02/2021 | Article

Seeing the world, and helping others, through science

For Eva Turró, science has almost been about much more than a career. Her passion for biology has allowed her tosee the world with different eyes, to understand, respect and take care of the environment and the people around her. Born into a family ofdoctors,sheremembers as a child watching her grandfatherhelping families as a medicalpractitionerin her hometown in Barcelona, Spain.While medicine became a tradition in herfamily,she chose tolearn about humans and their interaction with the world through a differentlens. “I thought that it would be a good ideato try and help peoplefrom a biological perspective,” says Turró, who most recently used that approach in her work as an emergency response delegate for the Spanish Red Cross in Mozambique and Honduras following devastating storms in 2019 and 2020. In the flooding, devastation and disruption that comes after major storms, the household and neighborhood ecosystems that maintain people’s lives is turned upside down. Clean water is suddenly hard to come by. Washing and going to the bathroom can’t be done in the normal way. People are stressed, hungry, sad and they may have to stay in homes or shelters with many others. It’s a biological environment where diseases and bacteria can thrive and easily spread. Eva’s job is to use her knowledge of the natural and human world to help people in these situations understand the science and take steps to keep themselves safe. “I get to go into communities and have the chance of explaining things scientifically,” she says. “Things like ‘Why is hand-washing important?’,‘Why do weneed to prevent diseases like diarrhoea?’and ‘Why is it important to treat the water?’” Her knowledge comes in very handy when helping these communities find or restore access to clean water and sanitation systems, as well as encourage coping tactics that preventthe spread of diseases such as diarrhoea, cholera or other infectious diseases. The path of science and humanity While Eva’s desire to help others began at an early age, her particular path became clear after she finished her studies and spent some timetraveling. She soon realizedshe could also help people far from her hometown of Barcelona and so she opted todo something in the humanitarian world.One way to do that was to connect her desire to help others with her scientific leanings. Her first international assignments were as hygiene promoter in Mozambique after Cyclone Idai in 2019 and in Honduras after two hurricanes, Eta and Iota, smashed into Central America within two weeks of each other in December 2020. Those two storms caused widespread flooding affecting more than 7.5 million people in the region, of which 4 million are in Honduras. “We worked toreach communities and shelterswhere people have found refuge after the hurricane,” Eva says of her work in Honduras.“Not only through awareness-raising activities,but also distributing menstrual hygiene kits”. An invaluable opportunity Eva’s scientific background has allowed hernot onlytoshare whatshe has learned as a biologist, but also to learn from othersandform real bonds with people from many different walks of life. “To listen to the life stories from all over theworld … To go anywhere in the world, not just as a traveller, but to help others…This is invaluable”.

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18/02/2022 | Article

His theatre in Yemen destroyed, Osama finds a new stage

For many years, Osama consideredthe theatre his second home,a place where he could embody different characters, share poetic words of wisdom and see the smiles and laughter on the faces of people in his community. “Every time I appear on the stage and see the smiles of children, I feel satisfied,” says Osama, a gregarious talkative man whose passion for acting has provided some refuge from the scourge and heartaches of war. But Osama’s ability to pursue this dream suffered a serious blow when his beloved theatrewas bombed and reduced to a pile of rubble. “My dreams were shattered,” says Osama, standing on the ruins of what was once a spacious, airy theatre, capable of holding hundreds of people. “My dreams were here in this very place,” he says, looking out of a field of broken bricks and stone. “Here, we used to bring smiles to people’s faces … before the war began.” Most of the theatre pieces his company produced were comedies and dramas that brought happiness and laughterwhile also sharing purposeful messages. A new humanitarian role After the theatre was bombed, with the accumulated pain and despair of war weighing on him, Osama started looking for a new role: something that would again bring him joy and help him to rebuild his sense of purpose. His journey led him to the doors of theYemeni Red Crescentin Al Hudaydah. Now Osamauses his gift for comedy and drama to educate people through interactive theatre sketches. The performances also convey important messages about how to stay healthy and safe in a context where war has shattered many of the basic food, water, health and sanitation systems that keep communities safe and well. “I remember the first time I participated in an awareness-raising activity with the Yemeni Red Crescent Society,” Osama says . “I was just giving children advice about washing hands, but in a funny way. I remember their laughter at my attempts to correct some of my mistakes. “One time, I was doing a comedy show to teach, in a comical manner, the right ways to wash hands, but I forgot one of the important ways to rub your fingers. One of the kids got up and hit me over the head in a comedic style and said, ‘The artist forgot to tell us this step.’ He started explaining it like a member of a theatrical troupe. It was the first time I felt I was really helping ordinary people cope with the challenges of war.” Inspired by the work of the Yemeni Red Crescent in Al Hudaydah, Osama has not only played a role in the Red Crescent’s outreach programmes, but also became an active volunteer in the provision of first aid, food distribution, emergency response, and even the transportation of wounded people and bodies. Alongside all this, the energetic father and husband works various jobs, such as tending trees around the city, to support his family. Deeper into the role Osama remembers one situation that pushed him even deeper into his role as a volunteer:a dengue outbreak in Al Hudaydahthat made an already desperate situation in the governorate even worse. While 20 million Yemeni people lacked access to basic healthcare, half of the country’s health facilities were either partially or completely damaged by war, leading to dramatic increases of endemic diseases and epidemics. “The dengue epidemic reached our home where I live with 16 members of my family, including four children. It was difficult to access healthcare and even to purchase medicines due to the economic situation. I took my eight-year-old brother Rakan to the Health Centre of the Yemeni Red Crescent Society, hoping he would be cared for at the centre. He was treated there until the staff were certain that he had recovered and was not in danger anymore. “This kind of assistance was not provided because of my work as a volunteer in the Red Crescent — it is available to all members of the community.The centre provides medical care services to all, and the number of beneficiaries is more than 1,700 people.” “The moment I arrived at the centre, holding my brother in my arms, was like a dream. I went there as a person in need and was received by a team that helps everyone. I realised after my brother’s recovery that working with the Red Crescent was also an opportunity to give something back, to return the favour, so to speak." In the meantime, this gregarious, outgoing volunteer can also nurture the stage actor that is always inside him, never far from the surface. “Even if I cannot appear on stage, I can at least do this for the Yemeni Red Crescent Society as a volunteer and play around for the kids,” Osama says with a smile. “That makes me happy and proud.” -- This story was produced and originally published by the Red Cross Red Crescent Magazine. To learn about the Magazine, and to read more stories like this,click here.

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01/06/2023 | Press release

Urgent support needed to prevent worsening impacts of Cyclone Mocha on health and livelihoods

Kuala Lumpur/Geneva, 1 June 2023 - Following the widespread devastation of Cyclone Mocha in Myanmar, it is now a race against time to aid people in need and prevent the spread of disease. Over 235,000 households are estimated to have been affected by winds of up to 250km/h, storm surges, flash floods and landslides brought by the cyclone, which was the strongest in the Bay of Bengal in the last decade. In Rakhine and Chin States, and Magway, Sagaing, and Ayeyarwaddy regions in the southwest of Myanmar, homes, livelihoods, and public and private infrastructure have been destroyed. In the northwest, access challenges, ongoing clashes and fighting, and communications restrictions are limiting the ability of humanitarian organisations to obtain a full picture of the damage and respond accordingly. Myanmar Red Cross has access to communities through its branches and volunteers present in hundreds of townships, including Rakhine, Magway, Chin and Ayeryawaddy. Over 960 volunteers are currently on the ground in affected areas, identifying needs, and providing emergency relief, healthcare, and safe drinking water. As of 29 May 2023, the Myanmar Red Cross had reached over 75,000 people with a multi-sectoral humanitarian response. Dozens of thousands have received access to safe drinking water, more than 900 people received healthcare through mobile clinics, more than 1,300 people received health education, more than 1,000 were provided with dignity kits, 700 families were provided with tarpaulins to help shelter from wind and rain, and more than 400 families were provided with kitchen sets. Director of the Myanmar Red Cross Rakhine Operations Management Unit, Aye Aye Nyein said: “Together with our volunteers and staff from Rakhine State Red Cross Branch, we have provided assistance such as early warning and relocation of the most vulnerable communities and we are providing relief aid, safe water and medical assistance with our mobile clinics team in Sittwe and neighboring areas." “In Rakhine State, we will initially be focusing on the most affected five townships of Sittwe, Rathedaung, Ponnarkyun, Kyauktaw and Pauktaw and plan to extend our assistance further under the guidance and principles of our leadership and in coordination with Red Cross Red Crescent Movement and other partners.” Shelter, basic needs, and livelihoods are now a priority. Access to clean water, food, first aid, primary healthcare and cash assistance for the affected communities is urgently needed. IFRC Disaster Risk Management Delegate, Rajeev K.C. said: “Affecting populations with significant pre-existing vulnerabilities, Cyclone Mocha has put more people at risk and in immediate need of shelter, water, and sanitation services. We already see the possibilities of disease transmission emerging, so immediate hygiene and health services assistance is required.” Myanmar Red Cross has established communications channels with relevant stakeholders on the ground and is seeking access to affected people in need. It is engaged with the authorities in order to fulfill its mandate while maintaining neutrality, impartiality, and independence from the government. The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) has launched an emergency appeal along with its members, to support the response of the Myanmar Red Cross, focusing on relief provisions and early recovery assistance in Myanmar's hardest-hit areas to the 7,500 most vulnerable households (37,500 people) for the next 12 months, particularly in the most affected areas of Rakhine, Chin, Magway, Ayeryawaddy, and Sagaing. For more information or to request an interview, please contact: [email protected] In Yangon: Swe Zin Myo Win, [email protected] In Kuala Lumpur: Afrhill Rances, [email protected]; +60 19 271 3641 In Geneva: Anna Tuson, +41 79 895 6924 Tommaso Della Longa, +41 79 708 4367

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16/05/2023 | Press release

New shipment of IFRC humanitarian aid arrives in Port Sudan amid conflict

Khartoum/Nairobi/Geneva, 16 May 2023: A new batch of International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) humanitarian supplies, weighing 17 tons, arrived in Port Sudan today from Dubai. Transportation of these supplies was made possible through a European Union humanitarian air bridge flight. The IFRC is hopeful that this air bridge will be maintained to ensure further aid is provided in the coming weeks. Among the household items delivered were blankets, jerricans, kitchen sets, mosquito nets, sleeping mats and tarpaulins for 500 families. This dispatch will be followed in the coming days by a second batch of medical supplies including Interagency Emergency Health Kits (IEHK) to increase access to much needed healthcare services for thousands of people affected by the conflict. Upon arrival, they will be handed over to the Sudanese Red Crescent Society. Mohammed Mukhier, IFRC Regional Director for Africa said: “Most of our aid supplies were already distributed to people in need, despite some being looted in Khartoum and Darfur. So, this international humanitarian shipment comes at a crucial time as it will help the Sudanese Red Crescent Society to assist people caught between the conflict and the next flooding, which is typical in the country.” Since conflict escalated, thousands of families have been cut off from basic services, including health services, food, water, and shelter and are in desperate need of help. Sudanese Red Crescent volunteers have been working tirelessly, right from the start, to provide lifesaving assistance to affected people, despite the dangers they face and the fact that they are also affected. They are running a broad range of humanitarian services, including first aid, psychosocial support, family reunification for people who have been separated from their loved ones, food and water distribution, shelter provision, and safe and dignified burials for those who lost their lives. On May 4, the IFRC launched an Emergency Appeal to support the Sudanese Red Crescent Society to deliver assistance to 200,000 people affected by the conflict. “Our volunteers will deliver the relief items wherever access and security allow. For that purpose, we renew our call for safe and unhindered access and passage to allow humanitarian help to reach those in need,” said Mr Mukhier. While supporting the Sudanese Red Crescent Society in assisting people in Sudan, IFRC is also scaling up its response to meet the urgent needs of those fleeing the conflict and crossing into neighbouring countries: Central African Republic, Chad, Egypt, Ethiopia and South Sudan. For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact: [email protected] In Nairobi: Rita Nyaga, +254 722 527553, [email protected] In Geneva: Anna Tuson, +41 79 895 6924 Tommaso Della Longa, +41 79 708 4367 In Dakar: Moustapha Diallo, +221 77 450 10 04, [email protected]

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24/04/2023 | Article

Ukraine one year on: seven things to know about the ongoing humanitarian crisis

1. Millions of refugees are still adjusting to life in a new country Since 24 February 2022, more than 8 million people have fled Ukraine to seek safety abroad. Forced to leave everything behind, and unable to safely return to their homes, they’re still trying to adapt to their new “normality”. That’s one year of fear, sorrow, uncertainty, separation from friends and family, and worrying about the people and homes left behind. For the past 12 months, the IFRC, along with 58 Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, has been working in Ukraine and the wider region to provide essential aid to people fleeing the country—including women, children, older people, and people with disabilities—and to help them integrate in their new communities. 2. Millions of internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Ukraine are still in need of basic assistance The displacement of more than 5.3 million people within Ukraine remains a staggering humanitarian crisis. Many of these people fled their homes with only the clothes they were wearing and are still staying with relatives or host families, in collective shelters or rented apartments. Working together with the Ukrainian Red Cross Society, the IFRC network has been there from the very beginning, providing crucial relief items to those who need them. While the initial shock of displacement may have subsided, the need for ongoing support and assistance remains critical. 3. Some people have returned to their homes, but rebuilding their former lives is a daunting challenge Despite ongoing hostilities, more than 5.5 million people have chosen to return to their homes—whether from abroad or within Ukraine. Many of their houses, however, have been damaged or destroyed. The cost of rebuilding or repairing them can be prohibitively expensive, and many families simply cannot afford the materials or labour needed to make their homes habitable again. Members of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement are providing vital support to people in Ukraine, including assistance with rent and utility payments, refurbishment of collective centres hosting IDPs and of individual housing, and providing building materials for home restoration. However, many people, particularly those in frontline areas, are still suffering. 4. The significant toll on people’s mental health remains The ongoing conflict has had a devastating impact on the mental well-being of people inside and outside of the country. Many have lost loved ones, homes and livelihoods. People—including children—have been uprooted from their communities. The long-term uncertainty and instability are weighing heavy on so many people’s minds. The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement has provided psychosocial support to more than 328,000 people this past year. While this is a significant achievement, there are still so many more people who need a listening ear and professional support for their mental health. 5. For many, access to medical services is limited The World Health Organization (WHO) has reported more than 700 attacks targeting health facilities in Ukraine since February 2022. Many hospitals and medical facilities have been either destroyed or severely damaged, leaving people—especially those living near the front lines—with little or no access to medical services when they need it most. The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement continues to provide basic medicines and medical equipment to health facilities across Ukraine. Together, we’ve launched nearly 100 mobile medical units, providing vital medical care to people living in hard-to-reach areas throughout the country. The IFRC is funding a health centre in the city of Uzhhorod, run by the Ukrainian Red Cross, which provides essential healthcare services to vulnerable people and IDPs. And funding from our Emergency Appeal is also helping the Ukrainian Red Cross to provide home-based care and rehabilitation services to older people, those with disabilities, and wounded veterans. 6. The country's energy infrastructure has been severely damaged While the cold season has now ended, and the energy provision within Ukraine somewhat restored, social and health institutions across Ukraine continue to face the threat of recurrent power shortages. These facilities, particularly those in frontline areas, often suffer from electricity cuts, depriving the local population of basic services. The IFRC has already delivered 130 high-power generators to Ukraine over the course of the last winter. However, the country still needs further support to ensure the basic delivery of public services for millions of people affected by the conflict. 7. The country's economy has been severely affected In 2022, Ukraine experienced a staggering 35% decrease in GDP and a shocking 30% annual inflation rate. This means that families across the country are struggling with skyrocketing food and rent costs. For many households, savings have been all but depleted, leaving people in a state of financial hardship and uncertainty. National Societies in Ukraine and the surrounding region, supported by the IFRC, have been running several cash assistance programmes to help the most vulnerable get by. The crisis is ongoing: what comes next? Though this crisis has slipped from the headlines, the world cannot forget what’s happening in Ukraine. This past year, our Movement has worked tirelessly to support people affected in Ukraine and beyond. But despite our efforts, the scale of this crisis demands more, and continued, support and attention. Thanks to its auxiliary role and permanent presence in Ukraine, the Ukrainian Red Cross is best positioned to support affected people now and long into the future. The IFRC network will continue to support the Ukrainian Red Cross and the people affected, as long they need us. -- Click here to access the IFRC’s recently revised emergency appeal for Ukraine and impacted countries. And if you would like to support our life-saving work, please donate to our appeal here.

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02/05/2023 | Emergency

Sudan: Complex emergency

Fighting between the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and Rapid Support Forces (RSF) broke out in the capital, Khartoum, on 15 April and spread rapidly across the country. More than 1,000 people have died and hundreds of thousands of people are internally displaced or have fled across borders to neighbouring countries to escape the violence.Through this Appeal, the IFRC is supporting the Sudanese Red Crescent Society (SRCS) to provide life-saving humanitarian assistance to people in at-risk locations and on the move.

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04/05/2023 | Press release

IFRC increases support in Sudan to assist people in at-risk locations and on the move

Khartoum/Nairobi/Geneva, 4 May 2023 – The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) has launched an Emergency Appeal to support the Sudanese Red Crescent Society (SRCS) to deliver assistance to 200,000 people affected by the recent conflict. Since fighting broke out in several parts of the country on 15 April 2023, access to basic services such as healthcare and water provision have been deteriorating. Many families cannot access food, medicine, or water due to fear of being caught in the crossfire and the escalation of prices. Around 15 million people were already in need of humanitarian assistance prior to the conflict. Farid Abdulkadir, IFRC head of Country Cluster for Sudan said: “Despite these difficult circumstances, Sudanese Red Crescent volunteers have remained on the ground, providing psychosocial support and first aid services since the fighting started. Those close to hospitals are working alongside the healthcare staff and providing medical support.” Damage caused by the fighting is immense and the people will need to rebuild their lives in the months to come. Many have been moving to neighbouring countries in search of safety or to seek medical assistance. This has led to separation of families, causing further psychological strain on communities being forced to make decisions between remaining and leaving. “This means that many are remaining inside Sudan because they are not able to make this choice and more cannot leave because they do not have the means to do so. All of them need support and we want to work alongside the SRCS to ensure as many people as possible get the assistance they need,” said Mr Abdulkadir. Through the Disaster Response Emergency Fund (DREF), the IFRC previously activated funds to support mobilization of volunteers to help with emergency activities across all SRCS branches in Sudan. By launching this Emergency Appeal, the IFRC is seeking 30 million Swiss Francs to assist the SRCS in providing life-saving humanitarian assistance to people in at-risk locations and on the move. The SRCS has 18 branches and 40,000 volunteers spread across the country, including at border points with Egypt, Chad, Ethiopia, South Sudan and the Central African Republic. Red Cross Red crescent teams in these countries have also been mobilized to provide humanitarian support to the influx of people crossing the borders and seeking safety. For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact: [email protected] In Nairobi: Rita Nyaga, +254 722 527553, [email protected] In Geneva: Anna Tuson, +41 79 895 6924 Tommaso Della Longa, +41 79 708 4367

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01/05/2023 | Article

"Lucky boy": Mother reunites with Myanmar Red Cross health worker who saved her baby's life

The two women in the back of the ambulance held each other’s hands tightly as the vehicle rushed through the night on the rough road to Than Phyu Zayat, Myanmar. Late in the afternoon, the Myanmar Red Cross ambulance crew had collected a young pregnant woman from her home in Kyaik Kha Me Township, taking her to the local hospital as her contractions intensified. But with no doctor available they were directed to the regional hospital some 70 kilometers away. With the baby in a breech position, it was going to be a difficult delivery for the 27-year-old first time mother, Moe Thuzar. Public services had been drastically disrupted following the military intervention of February 2021. The combination of the political crisis and COVID-19 had put healthcare services – including maternal and new-born health – under severe strain. Recently divorced and living with her widowed mother, Moe worked late into the pregnancy doing “Kya” jobs (random tasks at people’s houses) to make ends meet, and was often forced to skip meals as food prices increased sharply. That afternoon when her contractions began, a Myanmar Red Cross volunteer in the neighbourhood took her to the local hospital. When they found there was no doctor there, a call for help was sent to take Moe to the next town. As night was falling, Myanmar Red Cross ambulance volunteer Thi Thi Mon received the emergency call to transport the young expectant mother. As a Red Cross veteran of 25 years, Thi Thi Mon quickly jumped into an ambulance to collect Moe from the local hospital. The team rushed to the regional hospital but the doctor there didn’t have the facilities to deliver the baby, which was now blocking the birth canal. He urged the ambulance to drive to Than Phyu Zayat township, Mon State. But, halfway between hospitals, Moe Thu Zar said that she could not cope anymore and begged Thi Thi Mon to help. The former midwife made the choice to deliver the baby there and then. The baby was born in the back of the ambulance, his umbilical cord wrapped dangerously around his neck, but breathing. “The baby did not make any sound at first, so I had to shake him a little before he cried out loud,” Thi Thi Mon recalls. The team resumed their journey at top speed reaching the hospital in Than Phyu Zayat township in ten minutes. They provided oxygen to the baby and transferred the mother and child to a state hospital for intensive care. “She named my boy as “Maung Kan Kaung” (Burmese translation: Lucky boy). I am grateful towards the Red Cross members who helped us. We are alive only because of them,” says Moe Thuzar. “Since I was a child, I loved one of the Red Cross’ seven fundamental principles: humanity” “I will never forget this memorable night. I believe if everyone gets First Aid training like I did, there will be fewer helpless people, ” says Thi Thi Mon. -- From February 2021 to December 2022, Myanmar Red Cross First Aid teams have helped with the referral of around 12,833 patients. The ambulance service has helped more than 300 pregnant women and newborn babies to access emergency treatment. In areas where local communities lack access to medical facilities, the Red Cross has established First Aid Posts and community clinics where volunteer doctors and medical staff provide basic healthcare. These volunteers keep the spirit of humanity alive. -- To read a longer version of this story, click here.

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25/01/2023 | Press release

Malawi: Red Cross scales up response to worst cholera outbreak in two decades

Malawi, 25 January 2023—Malawi is currently facing its worst cholera outbreak in two decades, with over 29,000 cases reported and more than 900 people dead. The Malawi Red Cross, in partnership with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and in-country partners—Danish Red Cross-led consortium and Swiss Red Cross—is scaling up its cholera response to assist over two million people. Since the first recorded case in February 2022, cases have continued to spread, with all 29 districts affected. Cholera is now putting over 10 million people at risk, including more than five million children. “Malawi Red Cross Society is committed to continue supporting the Government of Malawi in responding to the cholera outbreak and other health emergencies. We are grateful to the IFRC and other Movement partners for continued finance and technical assistance to the MRCS Cholera response plan,” said McBain Kanongodza, Secretary General for the Malawi Red Cross Society. According to the Malawi Ministry of Health’s cholera update on 22 January 2023, over 29,364 cases and 960 fatalities were reported, leaving the fatality rate at 3.27 per cent, which is considerably higher than the acceptable rate of less than 1 per cent set by WHO. The Malawi Red Cross Society (MRCS) is already providing lifesaving treatment at the community level by administering Oral Rehydration Therapy. Volunteers ensure that water supplies are safe and that sanitation facilities are working. They also go door-to-door to raise awareness on preventing the disease from spreading. With the rainy season underway, it is crucial that people take precautions to protect themselves and their families. “We have been monitoring the developments on the ground since the first cases, and we are deeply concerned that this outbreak has taken a foothold in every corner of Malawi. We need to support the joint efforts of the MOH and Malawi Red Cross in their response to this devastating situation. As the outbreak worsens, partnerships are crucial to ensure lives are saved,” said John Roche, Head of IFRC’s Delegation for Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe. The IFRC and its membership are launching an Emergency Appeal seeking 5.2 million Swiss francs, which will help the Malawi Red Cross reach a further 1,385,391 people in need of assistance. Malawi Red Cross and its partners with the IFRC aim to target 15 affected districts, with the core objectives being to prevent and control the spread of the outbreak, reduce morbidity and mortality due to cholera and improve the availability of safe water and sanitation facilities, through continued support to communities and district health offices. For more information, please contact: In Lilongwe: Felix Washon, +265 999 95 57 21, [email protected] In Harare: Ella Mcsharry, +263 78 689 3350, [email protected] In Nairobi: Euloge Ishimwe, +254 731 688 613, [email protected] In Geneva: Marie Claudet, +1 202 999 8689, [email protected]

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07/10/2022 | Press release

Water-borne diseases and food insecurity threaten Pakistan as Red Cross ramps up efforts

Islamabad / Kuala Lumpur, 7 October 2022 – As widespread flash floods in Pakistan continue to trigger waves of displacement, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and Pakistan Red Crescent are scaling up their humanitarian assistance. In a revised emergency appeal, the IFRC is asking for CHF 55 million to assist three times more people than initially targeted. The increased ask was prompted by the worsening situation, where a surge of flood-borne diseases and food inaccessibility is on the rise. In the areas where floods are receding, health and hygiene concerns, such as cholera, dengue and malaria, pose severe threats to people’s wellbeing. Pakistan has experienced an unusual amount of rainfall, three times higher than the last three decades, which affected 33 million people, killing 1,700 others and displacing nearly 8 million from their homes. Hundreds of staff and volunteers have been working tirelessly since the onset of this disaster to assist those in need. A new study from the World Weather Attribution—a group of international scientists including those from the Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre—found climate change likely intensified the rainfall that left huge swathes of Pakistan underwater and turned lives upside down. More than two months into the floods, the IFRC and Pakistan Red Crescent have reached around 270,000 people in the most affected areas—delivering critical life-saving assistance including tents, food, clean water and medical support. The revised appeal will strengthen the ongoing response, with a focus on food, water, medical care, and shelter assistance—all delivered by volunteers who are from the very communities they serve. The Chairman of Pakistan Red Crescent, Sardar Shahid Ahmed Laghari, who has been visiting affected areas with emergency response teams over the past weeks says: “The needs remain massive and keep on growing, and they are different for men, women, boys and girls. Our staff and volunteers are listening to and working with these different groups to raise awareness and deliver our interventions. It’s critical that families’ needs are met or these tragic floods will impact them in the long-term—just as people are suffering from the ongoing inflation and economic crisis." Through the strength of its staff and volunteers, the Pakistan Red Crescent has managed to access hard-to-reach communities in dire need of assistance. The IFRC, and its partners such as German Red Cross, Norwegian Red Cross and Turkish Red Crescent, have been collaborating with the government and humanitarian groups to cater to the most vulnerable people, with a special focus on displaced families, women, and children. Peter Ophoff, IFRC’s Head of Delegation in Pakistan, remarks: “This revised appeal will enable us to help the most vulnerable get back on their feet, especially those who live in the hard-to-reach areas. Before the lingering effects of this disaster turns into a catastrophe, the IFRC is acting now to scale up preventative public health interventions, including improving access to sanitation and increasing hygiene awareness around the emerging health crisis. Parallel interventions will also be made on shelter, livelihoods and cash assistance.” For more information or to arrange an interview, contact: In Kuala Lumpur: Afrhill Rances, +60 19 271 3641 [email protected] In Islamabad: Sher Zaman, +92 51 9250404-6, [email protected] In Geneva: Jenelle Eli, +1 202-603-6803, [email protected] AV materials for use by the media are available here:

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28/06/2022 | Press release

COVID-19: Red Cross Red Crescent turns to animation to boost global vaccine effort

The animation is in the form of a nature documentary that examines how humanity is coping with the global pandemic and why vaccines are key to controlling COVID-19. “Until the majority of humans are vaccinated, the virus will continue to spread and mutate, creating new variants that could evade the vaccine altogether,” a resonating voice reminiscent of David Attenborough explains in the 90-second animation. “The humans only hope is to share the vaccine amongst themselves.” New analysis by the IFRC reveals that nearly one billion people in Asia and the Pacific are yet to receive a single dose of COVID -19 vaccine. Globally, less than 20 percent of the population have received a single dose in low-income countries, according to Oxford University’s ‘Our World in Data’. John Fleming, IFRC’s Asia Pacific Head of Health, said: “The COVID vaccine has saved millions of lives but too many people are still living in danger.If we want to end this pandemic once and for all, we need to urgently address hesitancy in every country, strengthen local delivery to get doses into arms and transfer vaccine and anti-viral drugs technology to manufacturers in low-income nations." “There has been remarkable cooperation between countries around the world, but this pandemic is not over, and much greater action is needed by leaders in richer countries and pharmaceutical companies to enable equal access to vaccines for people everywhere.” The animation video underlines the need to distribute vaccines among poorer nations with utmost urgency. The video can be downloaded here. The IFRC is asking people to just click on ‘share this video’ until it reaches policy makers, pharmaceutical companies, and government authorities. Its message is simple – people all around the world can take action to vaccinate everyone in all corners of the globe by calling upon their governments to help. Help is needed to ensure supply of vaccines to low-income nations as well as to get those vaccines from the tarmac into the arms of people. The quicker we do this, the safer everyone will be. For more information or to arrange an interview, contact: In Bangkok: Preeti Abraham, +66 61 412 3910, [email protected] In Kuala Lumpur: Rachel Punitha, +60 19 791 3830, [email protected]

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27/05/2022 | Article

Menstrual Hygiene Day: #WeAreCommitted to challenging period stigma, exclusion and discrimination

Around the world, millions of women and girls* face stigma, exclusion and discrimination simply because of one perfectly natural bodily function: their periods. Negative attitudes and misinformation about periods limit women and girls’ potential. Too often they miss out on education and employment—either due to a lack of hygiene facilities and products to easily go about their daily lives while menstruating, or because they are weighed down by fear of shame and embarrassment from their communities. Women and girls’ safety is also at risk. Without proper hygiene facilities, women can be forced to go into the open to deal with their period needs—leaving them exposed to physical danger and psychological harm. And in extreme cases, period stigma has tragically claimed women and girls’ lives. At the IFRC, #WeAreCommitted to challenging period stigma, exclusion and discrimination and to improving the menstrual hygiene management (MHM) knowledge, skills and programming of our National Societies. We’re working to raise MHM standards across our network—both as part of our long-term water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) programmes, but also during emergency response. Because periods don’t stop in an emergency! We focus on three main areas: Providing pads and menstrual health items as part of our relief assistance Community engagement to demystify periods, educate women and girls on how to manage them safely, and challenge negative attitudes—especially among men and boys. This also involves advocating for more and better MHM activities with governments. Setting up WASH facilities designed with the additional needs of menstruating women and girls in mind. Many of our National Societies are already doing fantastic work in this area. Let’s look at some of them! Lebanon With support from Elrha’s Humanitarian Innovation Fund, the Lebanese Red Cross has partnered with the IFRC, British Red Cross and consulting firm ARUP to develop inclusive and MHM-friendly latrines and bathing/laundering facilities. They focused on women living in informal tented settlements near the Syrian border. Speaking to women in the settlements, Lebanese Red Cross teams learned that women mainly use disposable pads during their periods, or a cloth in an emergency, which they burn after a single use. Women explained if they had a safe, accessible and private space to use that was separated from men’s facilities and had discrete disposal methods, they would put their used pads in the bin. Based on this feedback, the Lebanese Red Cross piloted technical designs for emergency WASH facilities that took these women’s needs into account. They developed a manual that can be adapted and used by other National Societies and partners—which includes recommendations of how to best engage with women and girls about their period needs in a sensitive and effective way. Click here to read more about the project. Pakistan Although menstruation is considered natural and a sign of maturity for women in Pakistan, it’s also seen as dirty, shameful and something to be dealt with in silence. Men are generally responsible for deciding on the menstrual health facilities and services offered to women and girls, but rarely involve or consult them on their needs. The Swiss Red Cross worked with Aga Khan University in Pakistan to set up special MHM corners within hospitals—safe spaces in which women and girls could receive information and counselling about menstrual hygiene and reproductive health. They ran pad-making sessions with men and women to raise awareness of good hygiene practices. And they identified influential ‘MHM champions’ who are now spreading this knowledge and tackling period stigma within their communities. Malawi For many girls in Malawi, managing their periods continues to be a challenge due to a lack of access to information, sanitary products, and adequate WASH facilities—particularly in schools. The Malawi Red Cross Society, with support from the Swiss Red Cross, conducted mixed-method research with more than 500 school students to understand girls’ and boys’ knowledge, attitudes and practices around periods. They discovered that: More than half of the girls they spoke to had never heard about menstruation before it started Girls with increased knowledge used better MHM practices and skipped school less Interestingly, boys’ increased knowledge about MHM was associated with higher levels of teasing, and with more absenteeism of girls during their periods The Malawi Red Cross Society has since used this research to inform their work in MHM so it better meets girls’ needs. They’ve constructed female-friendly toilets in schools, produced reusable menstrual hygiene products, delivered training to teachers and parents’ groups and advocated for more menstrual health activities at the community and district level. Argentina During the COVID-19 pandemic, transgender people in Argentina were found to be having difficulty accessing menstrual hygiene items. In close coordination with two local specialist organizations which support and advocate for transgender people, the Argentine Red Cross distributed hygiene kits which included sanitary pads, tampons and menstrual cups. Transgender men provided recommendations and selected appropriate menstrual items for the kits. Distribution of the kits was accompanied with virtual workshops on sexual health and correct use of menstrual cups. The Argentine Red Cross also set up a health advisory line to offer psychosocial support to anyone who needed it. Learning resources and more information about MHM: Discover even more case studies from our National Societies’ MHM activities in this collection Explore our wealth of practical guidance, tools and advocacy resources on menstrual hygiene on our dedicated WASH site here Visit the dedicated WASH page on the IFRC website Visit the global Menstrual Hygiene Day campaign page for more information about this year’s theme Contact our Senior Officer for WASH in Public Health, Alexandra Machado, for any MHM-related questions: [email protected] -- *We recognize that not everyone who menstruates identifies as a woman, and that not all women menstruate.

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14/02/2022 | Press release

Ocean Viking rescues 247 people within 48 hours from the Mediterranean Sea, including 5-month-old baby

Budapest/Geneva, 14 February 2022 – Search and rescue (SAR) ship Ocean Viking had an extremely intense weekend, with the crew having saved 247 people in five rescues in less than 48 hours. The ship is operated by European maritime search and rescue organisation SOS MEDITERRANEE in partnership with the International Federation of Red Cross Red Crescent Societies (IFRC). Survivors are now being cared for onboard, having received food, dry clothes and blankets. The medical team provided first aid and psychosocial support, treating cases of mild hypothermia, fuel inhalation and fuel burns. Some people also show signs of torture. Among the 247 survivors, there are 52 unaccompanied minors and a 5-month-old baby. The survivors represent 16 different nationalities, with most people coming from Egypt, Bangladesh, Syria, Ethiopia, Tunisia and Ivory Coast. The first rescue operation started on Saturday, 12 February, three days after Ocean Viking had left the port of Trapani, Sicily. An alert was sent for an overcrowded wooden boat in distress in the Maltese search and rescue region. The rescue team of SOS MEDITERRANEE found 93 people in an overcrowded wooden boat without lifejackets and brought them to safety to Ocean Viking. The second rescue took place during the night of 12 February, again a wooden boat in distress, in the Libyan search and rescue region. 88 people were rescued. The boat was highly overcrowded, very unstable, the people had no lifejackets and had suffered from fuel inhalation. The third rescue happened on Sunday morning, 13 February, a small wooden boat with 22 people were in distress in the Maltese search and rescue region. The boat was at high risk of taking in water. The fourth rescue started soon after the third one. Ocean Viking received a VHF call from the aircraft of the NGO Pilotes Volontaires about a boat requiring urgent help and about to take water in. The rescue of 25 people was completed in one hour. The fifth rescue took place a day later, on 14 February, in international waters inside the Libyan SAR region. 19 people were safely recovered from a fiberglass boat in distress among 1-meter waves. Since IFRC entered in partnership with SOS MEDITERRANEE in August 2021, the Ocean Viking rescued 804 people in distress in the Mediterranean Sea. This life-saving mission is an integral part of the Red Cross Red Crescent presence to protect and assist people in countries of origin, transit and destination across Africa, Middle East and Europe. As a neutral, independent and impartial humanitarian organization, IFRC’s global network provides critical humanitarian assistance to all persons in need, regardless of their legal status. For more information, please contact: In Budapest: Hannu-Pekka Laiho, [email protected], +358 40 5257126 In Budapest: Nora Peter, [email protected], +36 70 265 4020

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25/01/2022 | Press release

Philippines: New data reveals Typhoon Rai wrecked 1.5 million houses

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

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25/01/2022 | Press release

Tonga: Aid ramped up after eruption and tsunami

Kuala Lumpur/Suva, 26 January 2022 – Local relief teams are urgently providing supplies to communities across Tonga, hit hard by a volcanic eruption and tsunami that destroyed hundreds of homes and left thousands without safe drinking water. Relief items are being unloaded after the airport was cleared of ash, making it safe for planes to land. Tonga Red Cross staff and volunteers have been assisting people from the moment the tsunami alert was triggered, and are ramping up the delivery of drinking water, temporary shelters and other critical relief supplies across the country’s many islands. Sione Taumoefolau, Secretary General of Tonga Red Cross, said: “This disaster has shaken the people of Tonga like nothing we have seen in our lifetime. The tsunami has wiped out homes and villages, but we are already rebuilding amid the ashes. “After being cut off from the world, we are very grateful for the relief supplies being delivered to our shores. Our Red Cross teams are using boat and trucks to take these vital items that last mile to communities in need of shelter, water and other basic necessities. “There is an urgent need for people to have access to safe water sources in the days and weeks to come. Ash has settled in water tanks- requiring time to settle and careful treatment before use. It has also smothered much of the country, including houses and crops. “It is critical to clean this ash away, so it doesn’t run into water supplies when the next rain comes. “Shelter is a top priority for families whose homes have been completely wiped out because of the tsunami. People have lost everything. We need to provide immediate support – then turn our attention to the longer term. It will be a tough time, but we will recover.” To support the relief efforts of our locally led response, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) has launched an emergency appeal of 2.5 million Swiss Francs to provide urgent assistance including safe water, tarpaulins, shelter materials including tool kits to rebuild, household items such as kitchen cooking sets and hygiene kits. Katie Greenwood, IFRC’s Pacific Head of Delegation, said: “While the damage to some of the islands is truly devastating, it is heartening to see Red Cross and governments from around the world providing assistance to the hard-hit people of Tonga, enabling much-needed services and relief items. “A well-coordinated humanitarian response that brings together governments and international organisations to support local agencies like Tonga Red Cross is crucial in the Pacific. These partnerships are critical for effective delivery of immediate relief and longer-term support.” For more information, contact: In Suva: Soneel Ram, +679 9983 688, [email protected] Asia Pacific Office: Joe Cropp, +61 491 743 089, [email protected] Asia Pacific Office: Antony Balmain, +60 12 230 8451, [email protected]

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19/01/2022 | Press release

WHO and IFRC partnership aims to build regional capacity in responding to key public health challenges

19 January 2022, Cairo-Beirut – The WHO Regional Director for the Eastern Mediterranean Dr. Ahmed Al-Mandhari and the Regional Director of the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) Dr. Hossam Elsharkawi, yesterday signed a memorandum of understanding to enhance collaboration to support countries in the Middle East and North Africa respond effectively to key public health challenges. The aims of the agreement between WHO and IFRC are to strengthen the support provided to countries in order to improve the health and well-being of populations living in emergencies and protect and improve the health of vulnerable groups through ensuring access to essential health services, in addition to strengthening country capacity to provide access to sustainable, affordable and quality health services across the life course. The agreement also aims to strengthen leadership, governance and advocacy for health. During the virtual ceremony, Dr. Ahmed Al-Mandhari, WHO Regional Director for the Eastern Mediterranean, expressed his appreciation of WHO’s valued partnership with IFRC. “With a long history of collaboration with IFRC and working together to serve humanity, I am confident that this joint agreement can serve as a roadmap for us to strengthen support to countries and enhance national efforts to address key public health challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond in order to meet the urgent health needs of all people in the region. It is a true interpretation of our vision; health for all by all: a call for action and solidarity”. In his opening remarks, Dr. Hossam Elsharkawi, IFRC’s Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa said, “Addressing current and future humanitarian challenges requires the strong commitment of all partners and courageous leadership that focus on locally led actions and interdependence. We are honoured to work alongside WHO and leverage our volunteer network to advance progress towards universal health coverage, strengthen emergency response and preserve the dignity of all people.” Dr. Rana Hajjeh, Director of Programme Management at the WHO Regional Office, noted that the memorandum of understanding focused on the health challenges related to emergencies such as outbreaks, epidemics and the COVID-19 pandemic. “The pandemic has been a game changer for all countries and demonstrated the importance of effective preparedness and response to emergencies, and it has highlighted how, we as international organizations, can provide targeted support to countries to help them build capacity and strengthen community resilience.” Rania Ahmed, Deputy Regional Director of IFRC, noted, “Today, the WHO/IFRC agreement is reaffirming our continued commitment to work together to create change that results in a positive impact on people’s lives. Our partnership emphasizes the need to develop policies that respond to community needs and promote effective community engagement and support to shape evidence-based responses that allow results at scale.” The collaborative partnership between WHO and IFRC aims to further build on country progress to achieve universal health coverage and enhance national health systems. It focuses on strengthening regional capacity to effectively prepare for, and respond to, emergencies. One of the top priorities for WHO’s Eastern Mediterranean Region is to ensure and availability of mental health and other essential health services for all people, including displaced persons and refugees. The memorandum of understanding takes immediate effect and will be implemented with the direct involvement of all national stakeholders and WHO country offices in the region. For more information: Rana Sidani Cassou, IFRC MENA: +41796715751; [email protected] Mona Yassin, WHO EMRO: +201006019284; [email protected] We are honoured to work alongside WHO and leverage our volunteer network to advance progress towards universal health coverage, strengthen emergency response and preserve the dignity of all people, IFRC MENA Regional Director Dr. Hossam Elsharkawi said during the virtual signing ceremony. With this distinctive partnership with IFRC , we can jointly steer the public health agenda at regional, and more importantly, at country level; working together towards achieving Universal Health Coverage, WHO Regional Director Dr. Ahmed Al-Mandhari said during the virtual ceremony.

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16/01/2022 | Press release

Tonga: Volcanic eruption and tsunami cuts off country from the world

Kuala Lumpur/Suva, 16 January 2022 - The small Pacific Island country of Tonga has been cut off from the rest of the world after an enormous volcanic eruption and subsequent tsunami hit the country on Saturday. All communication lines in the country have been disrupted with no timeframe given on restoration. Responding to one of the worst volcanic eruptions the Pacific has experienced in decades, Red Cross is mobilising its regional network to provide relief. Katie Greenwood, IFRC’s Pacific Head of Delegation, said: “From what little updates we have, the scale of the devastation could be immense- especially for outer lying Islands. We are trying hard to establish contact with our colleagues at Tonga Red Cross and establish the scale and specific nature of the support they need. “Trained Tonga Red Cross teams will be on the ground supporting evacuations in coordination with public authorities, providing first aid if needed, and distributing prepositioned relief supplies. “Red Cross currently has enough relief supplies in the country to support 1200 households with essential items such as tarpaulins, blankets, kitchen sets, shelter tool kits and hygiene kits.” There are fears that communities may not have access to safe and clean drinking water as a result of saltwater inundation caused by the tsunami waves and ashfall from the volcanic eruption. Shelter is also a concern, particularly for those communities near the coast line. “Local Red Cross teams are well placed to respond quickly to emergencies like this. We are determined to provide the extra resources and support they may need in the face of such a devastating disaster. “With communication channels disrupted one of the priorities for Tonga Red Cross will be to work with our Movement partner, International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to restore family links which will help people from all over the world try and find out if their family and friends in Tonga are safe and well.” Update: On 21 January 2022 the IFRC launched an Emergency Appeal for the Tonga volcano and tsunami. Find out more here. For more information, contact: In Suva: Soneel Ram, +679 9983 688, [email protected] Asia Pacific Office: Joe Cropp, +61 491 743 089, [email protected] Asia Pacific Office: Antony Balmain, +60 12 230 8451, [email protected]

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06/01/2022 | Press release

Philippines: Mounting health crisis after super typhoon

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

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28/10/2021 | Article

Actions must speak louder than words: Five asks to achieve equity in vaccine delivery

In June 2020, a few months into the COVID-19 pandemic, the United Nations and the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement jointly called on governments, the private sector, international and civil society organizations to accelerate efforts to develop, test, and produce a safe and affordable “people’s vaccine” to protect everyone, everywhere and bring the crisis to an end. A people's vaccine should protect the affluent and the poor, the elderly as well as the young, forcibly displaced persons, migrants regardless of their immigration status, and other often neglected populations, both in urban areas and in rural communities. Fifteen months later, thanks to extraordinary scientific and technological advances, as well as global collaboration and mutual reliance in regulatory aspects, multiple safe and effective vaccines against COVID-19 are available and being administered in countries around the world. Yet, despite lofty rhetoric about global solidarity, the goal of a “people’s vaccine” is far from being reached. Equitable vaccine distribution is a political, moral, and economic priority which has so far been largely neglected. Profits and short-sighted vaccine nationalism continue to trump humanity when it comes to the equitable distribution of vaccines. Though more than 48 per cent of the world’s population has received at least one dose of the vaccine, that percentage drops to barely 3 per cent in low-income countries. The situation is particularly worrying in countries in humanitarian crisis which need almost 700 million more doses to reach the World Health Organization’s target of vaccinating 40 per cent of their populations by the end of the year. Over half of the countries with a humanitarian appeal do not have enough doses to vaccinate even 10 per cent of their population. Seven of the poorest in the world only have enough doses to reach less than 2 per cent of their population (Burundi, Cameroon, Chad, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Haiti, South Sudan, and Yemen). Wealthy countries with access to large quantities of vaccines have generously pledged to donate their excess doses to low- and middle-income countries via COVAX. However, far too few of these donations have been received. Supply of doses to the most vulnerable continues to be constrained by export restrictions and an unwillingness of countries to give up their place in the production supply line to COVAX, even if they cannot use those doses immediately. The Humanitarian Buffer, part of the COVAX Facility, has been open for applications since June 2021. The Buffer is a measure of last resort to ensure the world’s displaced and other vulnerable populations are reached with COVID-19 vaccines. It is also part of the efforts to curb inequity, which would otherwise jeopardize social and economic recovery in humanitarian settings. We therefore need to urgently boost supply, share vaccines, and ensure that everyone has access. But having vaccine doses available is only part of the solution to this crisis. We must ensure that the vaccine makes it from the airport tarmac into the arms of the most vulnerable – including refugees, migrants, asylum seekers, marginalised groups, people who are stateless, and those living in areas controlled by armed groups and/or affected by armed conflict. There must be greater investment in local delivery mechanisms and capacity, not only to guarantee that vaccines are delivered quickly and fairly, but also to strengthen national health systems for more effective pandemic preparedness and response. All around the world, efforts to curb the pandemic are undermined by mistrust that leads to vaccine hesitancy. More than ever, it is important to work with and within communities, including through social media and community networks, to build trust and strengthen confidence on the efficacy and safety of vaccines. Activities that strengthen support for local actors and address misinformation are key to ensuring the successful delivery of vaccines to local communities, especially those most at-risk. The United Nations and the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement remain steadfast in their commitment to ensure equitable and effective access to COVID-19 vaccines across the globe. As the pandemic requires the international community to take extraordinary measures, today we unite our voices again to say it is time for actions to speak louder than words. --- It is a humanitarian imperative and our shared responsibility to ensure that lives everywhere are protected, not only in the few countries that have the means to buy protection. We call on governments, partners, donors, the private sector, and other stakeholders: to scale up COVID-19 vaccine supply and access to COVAX including through donations from high-income countries to donate vaccines to those countries and regions that remain inequitably served; to increase the funding and support to local actors to ensure that vaccines leave capital airports and reach everyone, including through investment both in the local health systems required for delivery and in community engagement to enhance acceptance and confidence in COVID-19 vaccines as well as vaccines in general; to strengthen the capacity for COVID-19 vaccine production and distribution worldwide, particularly in low- and middle-income countries; to accelerate the transfer of technology and know-how: investments made now will last well beyond this public health emergency and will strengthen the global capacity for response to future epidemics and pandemics; to request the lifting of all remaining barriers (by manufactures) to allow humanitarian agencies access COVID-19 doses, including through waiving the requirement for indemnification, particularly where the most vulnerable populations can only be reached by humanitarian agencies using the COVAX Humanitarian Buffer. For more information Tommaso Della Longa, IFRC,+41 79 708 43 67, [email protected] Crystal Ashley, ICRC, +41 79 642 80 56, [email protected] Anna Jefferys, UNOCHA, + 1 347 707 3734, [email protected]

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