Youth volunteers in Iran plant 100,000 trees to protect people and planet
Iran is highly vulnerable to climate change. In recent years, the country has suffered from both severe flooding and droughts linked to our warming world.
In July 2022 alone, flash flooding killed 90 people, destroyed communities, homes, and livelihoods across the country, and left thousands displaced.
Local Iranian Red Crescent volunteers are experienced in responding to disasters like these—deploying quickly to provide lifesaving first aid and rescue services, food, water, shelter, health services, and long-term support to recover.
But as well as just responding to climate-related disasters, the Iranian Red Crescent Society is increasingly working to prepare for them, and even prevent or reduce their impact on communities.
And to do that, they’re working with nature. Specifically, our planet’s superheroes: trees.
Trees play a critical role in fighting climate change. Most people know that by absorbing carbon, producing oxygen, providing shade and cooling, and maintaining soil health, trees contribute to the overall health of our planet.
But did you also know that trees can also help protect us from weather-related disasters?
Soak up excess water during floods and prevent, or slow down, run-off
Hold rainwater in the ground to reduce damage caused by droughts
Protect coastal communities from tidal surges
Help stop or slow down avalanches and mud flows
Hold down soil to stabilize the ground during earthquakes andlandslides
Understanding this power of trees to protect communities, the Iranian Red Crescent Society launched a nation-wide tree-planting campaign earlier this year to help mitigate the impacts of climate change across the country.
Together, their youth volunteers planted a staggering 100,000 trees in the space of just 20 minutes.
Equipped with shovels, watering cans, bags of soil, and tree saplings, more than 10,000 youth volunteers got to work digging holes and planting trees at an incredible pace— showing unity and positive action in the face of the climate crisis.
“Every individual can make a difference, whether it's through volunteering with local organizations, supporting policies that promote sustainability, or making individual lifestyle changes. I encourage volunteers and non-volunteers around the world to come together and act on climate change.” - Movahed Najjar Nahavandi, IRCS youth volunteer from Mazandaran province.
Climate change is a complex problem that requires urgent action at the local, national, and global level. But by working together, and by working with nature, we can make a difference and help protect our communities.
The Iranian Red Crescent Society is not alone in taking climate action. Visit our dedicated nature-based solutions page or check out our Working with Nature to Protect People report to learn how the IFRC network is working with nature to reduce climate change and weather-related disasters.
You can also visit our climate-smart disaster risk reduction page for more information on how our network is preventing or minimizing the impact of climate change and other hazards on communities.
Flooding around the world: Red Cross and Red Crescent teams responding
In recent weeks, floods have been hitting communities and making headlines around the world.
Let’s take a look at some of the countries dealing with flooding and see how Red Cross and Red Crescent teams are helping people who have been affected.
Torrential rains over the past couple of weeks have affected two-thirds of Slovenia, prompting the country’s Prime Minister to declare it the ‘biggest natural disaster’ in the country’s history.
The floods have killed three people and destroyed bridges, roads and houses - causing an estimated 500 million euros of damage.
Volunteers from the Slovenian Red Cross have been delivering food, water and medicine to people affected by the floods – often on foot, since it’s the only way to reach many isolated communities. They’re also accompanying people staying in temporary shelters.
The Czech Red Cross, Croatian Red Cross, Hungarian Red Cross and Polish Red Cross have all shown solidarity by sending additional food, water and hygiene items into the country to help with the response.
In Norway, Norwegian Red Cross volunteers are helping people affected Storm Hans, which is causing havoc across the south of the country – bringing extreme rain, landslides and floods.
Volunteers are assisting with evacuations, running emergency ambulances, delivering food to isolated people and building sandbag flood defences. Many local branches remain on high alert, with more volunteers standing by to support as the situation develops.
With millions reeling from the ongoing conflict in Sudan, communities across White Nile state have also now been impacted by heavy rains and flash floods.
Torrents of water swept away and destroyed everything in their path. Families have lost homes and belongings, and many are resorting to sleeping outside in the open air.
Shelter and clean water are needed urgently. Sudanese Red Crescent Society volunteers, who have already been responding to people’s needs during the conflict, are assessing the situation closely to provide additional support.
Torrential rains and floods have hit East Asia severely this summer, including areas of north, northeast and southern China. Beijing has seen the largest rainfall experienced in the city in the past 140 years.
Disaster relief teams from the Red Cross Society of China are helping people in flood-stricken areas – supporting with clean-up and recovery, as well as distributing household items, quilts, waterproof jackets and more.
In the Philippines, Typhoons Doksuri and Khanun (known locally as Egay and Falcon) have brought devastating floods.
An estimated 313,000 people have been displaced by Doksuri alone, and more than 25 people have sadly lost their lives.
Philippine Red Cross volunteers have been bringing relief supplies, meals, medical assistance and psychosocial support to affected communities.
Flash floods and heavy rainfall have caused loss of life, injuries and severe damage to hundreds of households in Afghanistan – a country already experiencing complex humanitarian crises.
Afghan Red Crescent and IFRC emergency teams are providing urgent relief – including blankets, jerry cans, tarpaulins and shelter kits. And mobile health teams are bringing medical services to remote communities.
In Iran, Iranian Red Crescent Society teams have been responding to flooding in Sistan Balochistan, North Khorasan and West Azerbaijan provinces – deploying 35 response teams and providing support to hundreds of people.
Volunteer teams have been rescuing people stranded in the flood waters, setting up temporary shelters, and providing essential items.
In western Honduras, localized flooding caused by rainstorms hit the town of Copan Ruinas – damaging homes and local businesses.
The local Honduran Red Cross branch responded quickly to distribute relief items to local people and help clear up debris and fallen trees.
Thank you to all our National Societies for supporting communities affected by floods in recent weeks.
If you'd like to learn more about floods and how you can prepare, click here.
| Press release
Red Cross Red Crescent reaching 1.5 million people on the move in MENA, yet millions are left without support
Beirut, 16 December 2021 – Red Cross and Red Crescent National Societies are reaching more than 1.5 million migrants, refugees and internally displaced people (IDPs) in the Middle East and North Africa, yet the number of people on the move left without essential support is colossal, a report by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) has found.
Ahead of International Migrants Day on 18 December, the IFRC is calling for a stronger commitment to support people on the move during their journey, not only once they have managed to reach their planned destination – if they ever do.
Fabrizio Anzolini, Migration Regional Advisor for IFRC MENA, said:
“Countless migrants face inhumane conditions along their way, including violence, lack of food, shelter and access to health services. Climate change and conflicts are only expected to accelerate the number of people migrating out of the region in the coming months and years. We need to act right now on the routes and advocating for durable solutions.”
The region, with more than 40 million migrants and 14 million internally displaced people, has some of the world’s longest protracted conflicts, combined with frequent natural disasters, man-made crises and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Regional hotspots include the population movement from Afghanistan to Iran, the migration flows from Morocco, Tunisia and Libya to Europe, the extensive number of internally displaced persons in Syria, as well as the route from the Horn of Africa to Yemen, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states.
Rania Ahmed, IFRC MENA Deputy Regional Director, said:
“Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies are reaching more than 1.5 million migrants and displaced people in the Middle East and North Africa, but it is not enough. We need bigger investment and greater long-term commitment to address their plight. We need to mobilize all efforts and resources to ensure people on the move receive humanitarian assistance and protection. Migrants and displaced populations are intensely vulnerable and must be included in COVID-19 prevention, response, and recovery plans. We urge governments to ensure that people on the move have equal access to vaccinations, health care and basic services.”
With the engagement of the IFRC, Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies in the MENA region are on the frontline attempting to cover the enormous gap between people’s needs and the support that is available for them. Red Cross and Red Crescent teams provide multidisciplinary assistance, including health services, livelihood support, protection for children and victims of violence, mental health, and psychosocial support, as well as cash assistance. These support services are also widely available to host communities, leaving no one behind.
Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies remain committed to continue responding to the needs of migrants and displaced people as well as advocating for the support that they need at country, regional and global levels through evidence-based humanitarian diplomacy. However, their continued activities are hampered by shrinking funding. In addition, access to migrants is often limited, especially in conflict zones and due to restrictions put in place to curb the COVID-19 pandemic.
You can access the full report here: MENA Red Cross and Red Crescent Activities on Migration and Displacement – Snapshot 2021. The survey includes responses from twelve Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies in the Middle East and North Africa.
For more information or to arrange an interview, contact:
In Geneva: Rana Sidani Cassou, +41 766715751 / +33 675945515, [email protected]
In Beirut: Jani Savolainen, +961 70372812 / +358 504667831, [email protected]
| Press release
IFRC launches emergency appeal to prepare for and respond to population movements from Afghanistan
Geneva, 28 September 2021 – The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) has recently launched a multi-country emergency appeal focused on preparedness and response efforts to population movements from Afghanistan into neighbouring countries and the wider region.
Afghanistan faces an alarming humanitarian emergency and a worsening economic crisis, both likely to be further exacerbated by the approaching winter season. Access to banking services has been severely constrained, with cashflow crippled. A rapid deterioration of humanitarian conditions in Afghanistan could result in catastrophic consequences for vulnerable Afghans and could lead to further internal and cross-border displacement.
Xavier Castellanos, IFRC Under Secretary General, National Society Development and Operations Coordination, said:
“Millions of people in Afghanistan are suffering from compounded crises, such as severe drought, food and water shortages, internal displacement, the COVID-19 pandemic, a fractured health system, limited access to banking services, and restrictive social norms. Winter is approaching and we know it can be harsh. Many Afghans could cross international borders in the coming months. We need to prepare to provide them with protection and humanitarian assistance”.
To support Red Cross and Red Crescent National Societies in preparing for and responding to population movements from Afghanistan, the IFRC is appealing to donors with a funding requirement of more than 24 million Swiss francs. This amount would allow IFRC and its National Societies to continue their preparedness efforts to provide humanitarian assistance and protection to around 160,000 people crossing from Afghanistan into neighbouring countries and the wider region, for an initial period of twelve months.
Priority countries of the emergency appeal include Iran, Pakistan, and Tajikistan. Other countries in Central Asia could also be involved in preparedness efforts.
National Societies in neighbouring countries and the wider region have a long history of providing humanitarian assistance and protection to people from Afghanistan. Building on their technical experience in emergency response, National Societies stand ready to increase support to newly arriving Afghans, including with emergency shelter and essential household items; food; healthcare; water, sanitation, and hygiene; and protection of the most at risk, including women, children, and marginalized groups.
The IFRC operational strategy remains flexible and will be constantly adapted based on the evolving situation, as well as people’s most urgent needs.
The emergency appeal can be accessed from this webpage:Afghanistan – Regional population movement
For more information, contact:
In Geneva: Nathalie Perroud, +41 79 538 14 71, [email protected]
Empress Shôken fund 100th distribution announcement
The Empress Shôken Fund is named after Her Majesty the Empress of Japan, who proposed – at the 9th International Conference of the Red Cross – the creation of an international fund to promote relief work in peacetime.
It is administered by the Joint Commission of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and the International Committee of the Red Cross, which maintains close contact with the Japanese Permanent Mission in Geneva, the Japanese Red Cross Society and the Meiji Jingu Research Institute in Japan.
The Fund has a total value of over 16 million Swiss francs and supports projects run by National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies to benefit their communities in various ways.
The first grant was awarded in 1921, to help five European National Societies fight the spread of tuberculosis. Since then, 169 National Societies have received 14 million Swiss francs. To mark the Fund’s 100th year of awarding grants, a short video was developed to highlight what the Fund stands for and showcase how it has supported National Societies through the years.
The imperial family, the Japanese government, the Japanese Red Cross and the Japanese people revere the memory of Her Majesty Empress Shôken, and their enduring regard for the Fund is evident in the regularity of their contributions to it.
The grants are usually announced every year on 11 April, the anniversary of her death. This year the announcement is being published earlier due to the weekend.
The selection process
The Fund received 28 applications in 2021 covering a diverse range of humanitarian projects run by National Societies in every region of the world.
This year the Joint Commission agreed to allocate a total of 475,997 Swiss francs to 16 projects in Argentina, the Bahamas, Benin, Costa Rica, Estonia, Georgia, Iran, Kenya, Malawi, Nicaragua, Pakistan, the Philippines, Romania, South Sudan, Timor-Leste and Viet Nam.
The projects to be supported in 2021 cover a number of themes, including youth engagement, disaster preparedness, National Society development and health, especially the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.
The Fund continues to encourage new and innovative approaches with the potential to generate insights that will benefit the Movement as a whole.
The 2021 grants
The Argentine Red Cross is taking an innovative approach to talent management using new technologies. It will use the grant to develop a talent-management module to be implemented in 65 branches, enabling the National Society to attract and retain employees and volunteers.
The Bahamas Red Cross Society will put the grant towards building staff and volunteers’ capacities and expanding its network on five islands, with a view to implementing community- and ecosystem-based approaches to reducing disaster risk and increasing climate resilience.
The Red Cross of Benin seek to help vulnerable women become more autonomous. The grant will support them in developing income-generating activities and building their professional skills.
The Costa Rica Red Cross will use the grant to enable communities in the remote Cabécar and Bribri indigenous territories to better manage emergencies, holding workshops on first aid, risk prevention and emergency health care in connection with climate events and health emergencies, including COVID-19.
The Estonia Red Cross is working to build competencies in four key areas, including in recruiting, training and retaining volunteers. The funds will support the development of a volunteer database to help effectively manage information, especially against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic.
With widespread COVID-19 transmission in Georgia, the Georgia Red Cross Society is working to help national authorities limit the impact of the pandemic. It will put the grant towards promoting good hygiene and raising awareness of the importance of vaccination.
The Red Crescent Society of Islamic Republic of Iran is focused on building local capacity with youth volunteers by boosting small businesses in outreach areas. The grant will be used for training, capacity-building and development in local partner institutions, generating income for community members.
The COVID-19 pandemic and related restrictions have affected how the Kenya Red Cross Society does its humanitarian work. The grant will be used to launch an online volunteer platform to encourage and facilitate youth volunteering.
The Malawi Red Cross Society must be ready to respond to disasters due to climate variability and climate change. The funds will allow the National Society to establish a pool of trained emergency responders who can swing into action within 72 hours of a disaster.
The Nicaraguan Red Cross is working to protect the elderly from COVID-19. The grant will be used in three care homes located in the municipalities of Somoto, Sébaco and Jinotepe to provide medical assistance, prevent and control infections, and promote mental health as a basic element of self-care through training and support sessions and other activities.
The Pakistan Red Crescent seeks to improve how it manages blood donations. The funds will enable the National Society to increase the capacity of its blood donor centre and raise awareness of voluntary unpaid blood donation by holding World Blood Donor Day in 2021.
The Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) for All project of the Philippine Red Cross aims to develop WASH guidelines and promote them in the community. The grant will be used for training and capacity-building around providing health services in emergencies.
In Romania, teenagers in residential centres are vulnerable to sexual and gender-based violence for a number of reasons, including a lack of both psychosocial education and staff trained in dealing with this kind of violence through trauma-informed care. The grant will enable the Red Cross of Romania to reduce the vulnerability of 60 teenagers in residential centres by increasing knowledge and aiding the development of safe relationships.
The South Sudan Red Cross is working to encourage young people to adapt to climate change by planting fruit trees. The grant will support this initiative, which aims to reduce the impact of climate change and increase food production.
In 2020 the Timor-Leste Red Cross launched an education programme aimed at increasing young people’s knowledge about reproductive health. The funds will be used to expand the programme – already active in five of the National Society’s branches – to the remaining eight branches.
The Viet Nam Red Cross aims to further engage with authorities and become more self-sufficient through fundraising. It will use the grant to build its personnel’s capacities by providing training courses on proposal writing, project management and social welfare.
Red Crescent Society of the Islamic Republic of Iran
Iran Red Crescent volunteer saves a two-month-old baby with his first aid skills
Morteza Beigi, the Iranian Red Cross first aid volunteer, recovered a two-month-old baby back to life and became a hero.
“I am used to check vital signs of every corpse brought to the cemetery to be washed and prepared for burial. This time, when the body of a two-month-old baby was brought to me, I remembered my two little daughters whom I love very much. I checked the baby's breathing putting my head on his chest and listened. I found out he was still breathing. The baby was alive!”
The baby had been transferred to Abdanan city for the funeral.
“It was around afternoon when my phone rang and I was asked to wash a dead body of a small baby. I left home to the cemetery. The body of a baby was wrapped in a white and blue blanket. While his family was taking off his clothes, I suddenly looked at his chest. It seemed it was moving,” he continues.
Earlier on the day, the medical doctors had diagnosed the cause of death as Congenital insufficiency.
Before working at the cemetery, Morteza, 31, used to be a plaster worker. He is also studying law atuniversity while he is working hard for his family.
“I had passed the Red Crescent first aid course in the provincial branch many years ago and knew first aid and CPR. The family of the baby was crying and I could not hear his breathing so I put my head on his chest. He was not dead.”
The family was told the baby was declared dead already in the morning.
“I remembered my two little beloved daughters as well as all the dead bodies brought here recently because of COVID-19. I felt with my blood and flesh how hard it is to lose our loved ones. I consider all human beings to be my loved ones.”
After finding out the baby was still alive, Morteza kept him warm with a blanket and started Cardiac massage together with CPR. He continued for ten minutes until the baby started to breathe properly again. Then he called the Emergency Medical Services (EMS) to get further help.
This time the story had a happy ending butMorteza tells he has faced also the grim effects of COVID-19 while washing the bodies. He has seen what it does to the people, and since the spring, he has been infected by COVID-19 already twice. Despite that, he says he keeps his mind positive.
Every year Iranian Red Crescent Society organizes different trainings from first aid to urban relief and rescue. This year due to the coronavirus pandemic, the organization moved most of the trainings online.
Financial channel opens for Iran Red Crescent to receive international humanitarian contributions
The President of the Iranian Red Crescent Society Karim Hemmati announced yesterday the opening of a financial channel for receiving international humanitarian contributions.
In an interview with the Islamic Republic News Agency, Hemmati said: “According to negotiations and correspondence conducted by the President of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies as well as the follow-up of our colleagues in the Iranian Red Crescent, the United States Department of the Treasury will not oppose the opening of a financial channel for the transfer of humanitarian aids to the Iranian Red Crescent, provided that the Americans are not one of the parties to the aid provided by individuals and legal entities.”
“According to the agreement, in the past few days, part of the aids, which was reserved for the Iranian Red Crescent and could not be transferred for several years, has been transferred to the country,” added Hemmati.
The transferred contributions will be used in purchasing medicine, food parcels and other relief items that the Iran Red Crescent might need for its humanitarian response.
Iran: Running for peace
Mojtaba Yadegari, a youth member of the Iran Red Crescent Society, has been running for peace since he was nine years old. Lately he ran for 17 consecutive days, throughout Iran’s 31 governorates, covering an amazing 310km.
“I really enjoy running and I enjoy it more when I do it for a purpose such as advocating for universal peace and friendship,” said Mojtaba, from the Red Crescent’s Markazi Provincial Branch.
“So far, I have done 27 sport activities totaling about 3,000km,” he said. “My objective is to follow the principles of Henry Dunant, the founder of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement. I want to use my efforts to strive for global peace and friendship and to serve as an ambassador for the Iranian Red Crescent.”
Through his sporting achievements, Mojtaba hopes to promote a culture of non-violence and peace, familiarize the public with the work and objectives of the Red Crescent, and encourage other young people to become volunteers.
The 17 days of running were not easy, and the weather was sometimes a problem. However, “Each time I felt weak, I told myself I shall continue until I reach my objective no matter how hard it might be. I kept telling myself the finish line is not so far. I've come all the way! So, I can do the rest,” he said.
The people in the villages and cities that Mojtaba ran through have been a constant source of encouragement. “Each time I arrived in a new city, people cheered for me and even accompanied me in my run as a gesture of solidarity and friendship.”
After crossing all Iran’s governorates, Mojtaba now plans to run for peace outside Iran. “My motto is to advocate for peace around the world. I do this in my own country, but I dream of doing it elsewhere as well. My dream is to go to Geneva, Switzerland and run 10km for peace there.”
On his arrival at the Iranian Red Crescent Headquarters in Tehran, Mojtaba was welcomed and honored by Secretary General of the Red Crescent Society, its Head of Youth Organization, the Managing Director of the Tehran Provincial branch, senior directors, and many youth members and volunteers.
| Press release
Iran floods: Two million people in need of humanitarian aid
Tehran/Geneva, 15 April 2019 – An estimated 2 million people – one in every 40 people in Iran – need humanitarian assistance as a result of the massive floods that have swept across the country.
Heavy rains and flash floods have affected more than 2,000 cities and towns across almost all of Iran’s 31 provinces, according to the Iranian Red Crescent. An estimated 10 million people have been affected in some way, including more than half a million have been displaced from their homes – some permanently. At least 78 people have been killed and more than 1,136 injured.
Zahra Falahat, the Iranian Red Crescent’s Under Secretary General for International Affairs and International Humanitarian Law said:
“This is the largest disaster to hit Iran in more than 15 years. The scenes that our volunteers are reporting are devastating – entire villages washed away in a matter of minutes, countless homes and buildings damaged and completely destroyed.
“For the Red Crescent, this is one of the largest humanitarian relief efforts in our history. We are making every single resource we have available to save and support people. But it is not enough.”
More than 18,000 Red Crescent relief workers – most of them volunteers – have been involved in the humanitarian response. Seventeen Red Crescent helicopters along with 41 boats have been used to rescue people trapped by rising waters. In all, more than 457,000 people have been reached with Red Crescent services, including about 239,000 people who have been provided with temporary shelters.
The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) has launched an international emergency appeal seeking 5.1 million Swiss francs to expand Red Crescent support to an additional 30,000 families (equivalent to about 150,000 people). The IFRC-supported part of the operation will focus on providing unconditional cash grants to each of these families.
The operation also seeks to replenish some of the emergency stocks that the Red Crescent has used so far to ensure that it can continue to respond quickly to emergency needs throughout the country. The Iranian Red Crescent has been emptying its warehouses in response to this operation, distributing vast numbers of tents, blankets, plastic sheets and other emergency commodities, as well as providing tons of food stuffs. With further rains forecast in the coming days, it is feared that the impact of this disaster could continue to grow.
Sayed Hashem, IFRC’s Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa, is in Iran to support local response efforts. He said:
“The needs caused by this disaster are very real, and the response of the Red Crescent and other local actors has been remarkable. But this emergency is so severe that international support is absolutely needed. We urge our partners around the world to support our appeal.”