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Rising up after Typhoon Haiyan

Survivors of Typhoon Haiyan in the central Philippines continue to rebuild after one of the worst storms in recorded history, but recovery will be a long process. The fishing and agricultural sectors were particularly hard hit, with 95 per cent of fishing boats lost in some towns and millions of coconut trees destroyed. “It will take the coconuts five years to grow, so in the meantime we will survive on rice and root crops,” says Julianito Cabalhin, a local official. In the months after the storm, the Philippine Red Cross and Movement partners distributed food, shelter items, water and cash to more than 1 million people. All told, the Movement raised over US$ 334.4 million for Haiyan response and recovery efforts, which now focus on livelihoods and shelter.

Photo: ©REURTERS/Wolfgang Rattay

Movement reaches out to besieged populations

With the Syrian conflict now entering its fourth year, the Movement again called on all armed actors to protect humanitarian workers and allow civilians safe access to assistance. The pleas came after the death of yet another Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC) volunteer, Hekmat Mohamad Kerbaj, who died on 8 January from wounds received while missing for roughly five months, according to the IFRC. Meanwhile, the ICRC and SARC continued efforts to reach people trapped by fighting in towns such as Barzeh, north of Damascus, and Homs. When SARC trucks loaded with humanitarian aid entered Homs in February, however, they came under rifle fire and a driver was wounded. Mortar shells were also fired near the convoy though the vehicles were clearly marked with the Red Crescent emblem. Despite the attack, SARC volunteers distributed food parcels, hygiene kits, and medicine. Around 600 people were evacuated. With over 1 million residents thought to be living in similarly besieged areas, the Movement reminds all parties that they are responsible to provide for the basic needs of populations under their control. Where they cannot, impartial humanitarian assistance and safe evacuation must be allowed.


Grasping the scale of CAR’s catastrophe

As violence in the Central African Republic (CAR) has become increasingly brutal and widespread, the Movement has made urgent calls for an immediate end to attacks against civilians. “The population of [the capital] Bangui and the west of the country is being terrorized,” said Georgios Georgantas, head of the ICRC delegation in the CAR. Antoine Mbao Bogo, president of the Central African Red Cross Society, adds that all sides must respect Red Cross volunteers who “have been working tirelessly on both sides of the inter-communal divide”. He worries that the situation will worsen as the rainy season sets in and millions are left without adequate shelter, health care, food and safe water. “The world does not yet understand the scale of the disaster unfolding in the Central African Republic,” he says. “I fear that by the time this crisis is recognized for what it is, it will be too late.”



“I pay tribute to the courageous relief workers bringing aid to Syrians in need. The ‘red pillar’ in Syria — the Syrian Arab Red Crescent, the IFRC and the ICRC — are critical in reaching the most vulnerable and besieged people.”
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, speaking at the Second UN Pledging Conference for Syria in
Kuwait City in January.



Thai Red Cross takes on misuse
of emblem

When medical staff from several Bangkok hospitals marched in political rallies in January, many decided to carry Red Cross flags. In subsequent days, images of the flag-waving protesters spread on social media channels, major newspapers and television networks. The Thai Red Cross Society, which provides first-aid and health support during political disturbances, quickly denounced the use of the emblem for political purposes. The National Society reminded protesters and the media that the Red Cross remains neutral in political issues and that use of the Red Cross emblem is regulated by both international laws and a national emblem law passed in 1956.

Fighting spreads in South Sudan

Movement workers in South Sudan have become increasingly alarmed by the brutal attacks against people not involved in the fighting that erupted in mid-December. “There have also been reports of healthcare facilities being destroyed and patients being attacked,” said Melker Mabeck, head of the ICRC’s delegation in South Sudan. The ICRC has expanded its operations since December and South Sudan Red Cross volunteers have provided first aid and other assistance. Many volunteers, however, have themselves been displaced by the fighting. In the capital Juba, volunteers have helped provide displaced people living in camps with clean water and hygiene information. “The camps are overcrowded and sanitation facilities are stretched,” said Ben Adeiza, IFRC health coordinator in Africa. “Conditions are conducive to an outbreak of disease such as acute diarrhoea and cholera.”


IFRC selects new Secretary General

The IFRC Governing Board has selected Elhadj Amadou (As) Sy as its next secretary general. Most recently serving as director of public-sector alliances and resource mobilization office with UNICEF in New York, Sy has also served as UNICEF’s regional director for Eastern and Southern Africa and global emergency coordinator for the Horn of Africa. Prior to that, the Senegalese national was director of partnerships and external relations and deputy executive director at UNAIDS in Geneva.


Humanitarian index

34: Total number of SARC volunteers killed in the line of duty as of January 2014; many more have been wounded.
48: Percentage of US$ 106 million
IFRC Syria: Complex Emergency appeal covered by contributions as of February 2014.
935,000: Number of people displaced by fighting in the Central African Republic.
1 million: Approximate number of people given food parcels and cooked meals by the Philippine Red Cross, with support from the Movement.
4 million: Number of downloads to date of the First Aid app developed by the British Red Cross and adapted by the American Red Cross.
33 million: Number of coconut trees destroyed or damaged by Typhoon Haiyan in coastal Philippines.
Sources : IFRC, ICRC, Syrian Arab Red Crescent


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