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Typhoon Bopha slams Philippines

When Typhoon Bopha hit the Philippines in December 2012, it left scenes of massive destruction. More than 6 million people were affected and 216,000 homes damaged or totally destroyed. Months later, 95 per cent of affected families continue to live in makeshift shelters. “We worry that the floods will come again,” says 63-year-old Rodrigo Palaga, who has been trying to salvage wood from the debris to make repairs to his house in San Roque, New Bataan. The Philippine Red Cross distributed household items and tarpaulins, one of which Palaga used to make a tent at the bottom of his land. “We have been given some food supplies and household items but what I really need is plywood and roofing sheets. We can’t live like this without walls or doors.”


Photo: ©Patrick Fuller/IFRC

Kicking out violence with football

With an unemployment rate of 50 per cent, the township of Khayelitsha in Cape Town, South Africa has high levels of violence and crime, as young people are easily lured into joining gangs. That’s why the ICRC has partnered with Amandla EduFootball, a Cape Town organization that uses football to help young people avoid violence and crime. With a fusion of football and education, the organization creates safe spaces for learning and equipping young people with skills, tools and positive attitudes. “I feel safe at the field,” says 14-yearold Kwanele. “There are no drugs and knives here at the field, but outside there are gangsters who say to me, ‘Come, you must smoke’. But I say, ‘No, you must come and play football’.



“If it wasn’t for the help of the Red Cross, I would still be in the camp living in a tent — not because I wanted to, but because I had no choice. The Red Cross gave me a choice.”
Mother-of-two Rozette Roseau lived in a camp for two years after the 2010 Haiti earthquake; she now lives in a rented apartment.


“I am now another person, not the Nilofar of before. I can do anything. I am strong, I am powerful.”
19-year-old Nilofar from Kabul, Afghanistan is wheelchair-bound since a gunshot wound injured her spinal cord
(Click here for the article).


Reuniting families

When conflict, disasters and violence strike, families and loved ones often find themselves separated, with little or no information as to each other’s whereabouts. Now a new global tool can help: the ICRC’s Family Links web site ( was launched in November 2012. “The Movement has a grass-roots network of volunteers already on the ground, in virtually every corner of the world, who actively search for missing persons,” says Olivier Dubois, deputy head of the ICRC’s Central Tracing Agency and Protection Division. “No other organization in the world can provide such a service.”

Poverty rises in Europe

Since the 2008 global economic crisis hit, National Societies in Europe have been reaching out to what many are calling Europe’s ‘new poor’ — men and women who have lost jobs, homes and life savings. In Milan, the Italian Red Cross helps roughly 50,000 people each month, about a third of those who need help. In Athens, homelessness has increased by an estimated 20 to 25 per cent. “What I need is to find a job, make some money, rent an apartment and live a decent life,” says one 60-year-old mechanic in Athens. “This all seems very hard to achieve.” Late last year, the Spanish Red Cross also launched a major campaign to assist Spaniards after unemployment hit 25 per cent. The IFRC, meanwhile, is working to expand the humanitarian response across Europe and Central Asia.

A camp for Simon

The week begins as a young volunteer camp counsellor from the Polish Red Cross leads Simon, a young disabled man, from the bus to a small cabin in the leafy, forested campsite. Each morning, the counsellor wakes Simon up, helps him wash his face, brush his teeth and get dressed before heading out for a day of activities, from singing to painting or making costumes. One of several dozen children at a camp for disabled youth run by the Leszno district branch, Simon is the focus of a short documentary film, 14 days, which depicts the everyday needs, difficulties and joys of disabled young people and their parents. See for a link to the video.


Photo: ©Polish Red Cross

Humanitarian index

16: Number of states that signed the original 1864 Geneva Convention for the Amelioration of the Condition of the Wounded in Armies in the Field. Today, 166 countries have ratified the Geneva Convention of 1949 and both Additional Protocols of 1977.
18: Number of media workers killed in Somalia during 2012, according to the National Union of Somali Journalists, based in Mogadishu. This is three times the number killed when this magazine published its cover story, Protecting the witnesses, in August 2012.
31: The average number of small or medium-sized disasters or health emergencies that Red Cross Red Crescent Societies around the world respond to each month.*
9,500: Number of Red Cross messages the ICRC and the Sudanese Red Crescent collected and delivered to family members in 2012.**
160 million: Number of tons of supplies delivered to European victims of the Second World War between 1941 and 1946 by the Joint Relief Commission formed by the ICRC and the League of Red Cross Societies, now the IFRC.***
209 million: Approximate number of people affected by natural disasters in 2011, of which 206 million were affected by climate-related disasters.*
375 million: Number of people who, by 2015, are expected to be affected annually by climate-related disasters.*
Sources: *IFRC, **ICRC, ***Beyond conflict, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies 1919-1994.


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