Beirut Explosion: Urgent relief for survivors underway as IFRC appeals for 20 million Swiss francs

Geneva, 9 August 2020 – The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) appealed today for 20 million Swiss francs (US$ 21.8 million dollars) to rapidly scale up emergency medical support and economic relief for survivors of Tuesday’s explosion at the Port of Beirut.

The blast, which came during a spike of COVID-19 over the past several weeks in Lebanon, poses additional burden on already fragile health infrastructures during a spiralling economic crisis. The IFRC is working closely with the Lebanese Red Cross to ensure additional COVID-19 prevention measures are in place for the long run, as aid workers continue working around the clock to support the more than 300,000 people displaced by the disaster with medical treatment, shelter and psychological support.

International Conference on Support to Beirut and the Lebanese People

Speech by Peter Maurer, President, ICRC

ICRC - News Release
9 August 2020

Mr President, your Excellencies,

The tragic events that took place in Beirut have shocked us all.

This tragedy, the scale and extent of the destruction, the casualties, the displaced and the missing, is all the more tragic given the fragility of Lebanon today. Already facing an economic and financial crisis, the global pandemic had stretched the country and its people to their limit.

Mr President, I very much welcome this conference. It’s vital that we gather our collective resources to support Lebanon and its people through this latest tragedy – so that it does not become one too many.

My organisation, the International Committee of the Red Cross has been in Lebanon for decades, through rounds of recurring conflict. We see directly the far-reaching effects of Tuesday’s blast – and the memories and fears it evokes.  Since the first hours we’ve been active on the ground, working closely with the Lebanese Red Cross and local authorities and institutions to assess and respond to immediate needs. But more support is needed:

We’re supporting hospitals to replenish depleted medical supplies – but more is needed.

17.5 million affected by floods and threatened by disease in South Asia

Dhaka/Kuala Lumpur, 6 August 2020 – Monsoon floods are robbing millions of people of their homes and livelihoods, with mounting risk of more deadly disease outbreaks when health resources are stretched to breaking point by COVID-19.

So far almost 17.5 million people have been affected and more than 630 killed by major floods in India, Bangladesh and Nepal, according to government figures. Half of Bangladesh’s districts are underwater, leaving nearly 1 million families stranded and cut off in their villages. Flooding and landslides in Nepal have left almost 200 people dead or missing. In India, almost 12 million people are affected by the floods mainly in the northern states of Assam and Bihar.

75 years after Hiroshima and Nagasaki, a nuclear threat returns 

International Red Cross Red Crescent Movement urges all nations to end the nuclear era

ICRC - News Release
4 August 2020

Seventy-five years ago, on the morning of August 6, 1945, a B-29 warplane released aterrifying new weapon on Hiroshima.  

The nuclear bomb wiped out the city, instantly killing an estimated 70,000 people and leaving tens of thousands more suffering horrific injuries. Three days later, on 9 August, asecond nuclear bomb devastated the city of Nagasaki, immediately killing 39,000 people.  

By 1950, an estimated 340,000 people had died because of the bombs’ effects, including from illnesses caused by exposure to ionizing radiation. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the Japanese Red Cross Society witnessed the unimaginable suffering and devastation, as medical and humanitarian personnel attempted, in near-impossible conditions, to assist the dying and injured.  

The 75th anniversary of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki comes even as the risk of use of nuclear weapons has risen to levels not seen since the end of the Cold War. Military incidents involving nuclear states and their allies have increased in frequency, and nuclear-armed states have made explicit threats to use nuclear weapons. 

Red Cross calls on people to check on neighbours and loved ones during dangerous heatwave

Budapest/Geneva, 29 July 2020 – As temperatures soar across Europe, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is calling on the public to check on neighbours and loved ones who might struggle to cope with the searing heat.

According to European meteorological offices, France, Greece, Italy, Spain, Switzerland, and Romania can expect temperatures in the mid to high 30s during the week., with Paris and Madrid forecast to reach around 40°C on Friday.

To prevent loss of life, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is urging people to check in on their vulnerable neighbours, relatives and friends while following COVID-19 safety measures.

IFRC’s acting health coordinator for Europe, Dr Aneta Trgachevska, said: “Some older people are unable to spend on things like air conditioning. They may be socially isolated. When coupled with thermoregulation problems, reduced water intake and physical ability and chronic diseases, there could potentially be a large at-risk group.”

Red Cross Red Crescent braces for COVID spike in South Asia

Kuala Lumpur/Delhi/Islamabad/Dhaka/Geneva, 16 July 2020 – South Asia is fast becoming the next COVID-19 epicentre as cases soar in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh.

John Fleming, Asia Pacific Head of Health, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) said: “COVID-19 is spreading at an alarming rate in South Asia, home to a quarter of humanity.”

“While the world’s attention has been focused on the unfolding crisis in the United States and South America, a concurrent human tragedy is fast emerging in South Asia. India alone is nearing 1 million infections in coming days.”

“We need more focus on the new COVID-19 hotspot in South Asia. Lives of people in India are no less valuable than people in other parts of the world.”

Armenia/Azerbaijan: ICRC worried about safety of civilians and ready to act as neutral intermediary

ICRC - News Release
14 July 2020

Geneva (ICRC) - The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is concerned about the humanitarian impact of reported military activity along the international border between Armenia and Azerbaijan, which has intensified since 12 July 2020. This activity brings additional risks for the civilian population living in the area and affects their access to livelihoods. The ICRC is sharing its concerns bilaterally with the parties to the conflict, reminding them that they must at all times distinguish between civilians and persons directly participating in hostilities.

Race to avert COVID caused catastrophes in Afghanistan

Kabul/Kuala Lumpur/Geneva, 14 July 2020 - Afghanistan is on the edge of potential health, social and economic catastrophes caused by COVID-19 as the disease places a crippling burden on one of the ten most fragile states in the world.

More than 34,000 people have been infected by COVID-19 in Afghanistan and nearly 1,000 people have died, with hospitals and health clinics pushed to the limit.

The real toll of the pandemic on the Afghan population is expected to be much higher and remains under-reported due to limited testing and weak health systems. The country has one doctor for every 3,500 people, less than a fifth of the global average according to the World Health Organization.

Red Cross Red Crescent alarmed at increase in migrant drownings in Mediterranean

Beirut/Budapest/Geneva, 9 July 2020 – Red Crescent societies in Tunisia and Libya are seeing an increase in drownings on the shores of North Africa.

Warmer weather and relaxed COVID-19 lockdowns are thought to be behind an increase in numbers of people attempting to cross the Mediterranean from North Africa to Europe.

Many are not surviving the perilous journey, with 20 per cent more people estimated to have died in June this year as opposed to last year, according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

IFRC President Francesco Rocca said:

“While Red Cross volunteers in Italy support those who have managed to survive the crossing, unfortunately on the other side of the Mediterranean, both Libyan and Tunisian Red Crescent volunteers are left to collect the bodies of those who didn’t.”

Syria: As economic crisis bites, lack of humanitarian access costs lives every day

ICRC - News Release
30 June 2020

Damascus/Geneva (ICRC) - A dramatically deteriorating economic situation, the impact of expanded sanctions, a simmering COVID-19 crisis and ongoing fighting in parts of the country are pushing millions of people in Syria towards deeper poverty and hunger as the tenth anniversary of the conflict approaches.

The humanitarian needs across the entire country are already immense and rising at a pace that threatens to outstrip and even overwhelm existing capacities to respond, exacerbated by the worst economic crisis since the conflict began.

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