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Just over a year after one of the most powerful typhoons ever recorded
slammed the Philippines, there are signs that recovery efforts are paying
off. One case in point is Maria Redubla Liporada, one of the thousands of
beneficiaries to receive a livelihood cash grant from the Red Cross and
Red Crescent Movement. She used the grant to start a bakery. Here she
crosses a river on the way to selling rice cakes in her upland village in
Burauen, Leyte, central Philippines. Photo: ©Cheryl Gagalac/IFRC

A call for humanity

In Iraq and Syria, the proliferation of armed groups and the recent international air strikes have compounded the suffering caused by the conflicts in both countries and made the delivery of humanitarian aid increasingly difficult. “The conflicts in Iraq and Syria are endangering more people with every passing day,” says Dominik Stillhart, ICRC director of operations. The ICRC has appealed to all parties in these conflicts to uphold the principle of human dignity, spare the civilian population the effects of the hostilities and facilitate neutral, independent and impartial humanitarian activities.

Small weapons, big impact

An Arms Trade Treaty that regulates international transfers of conventional weapons recently came into force after being ratified by 50 countries. Advocates for this international treaty, including the ICRC, say it is an essential step towards reducing the human suffering caused by the proliferation of conventional weapons, from small arms and ammunitions to battle tanks, combat aircraft and warships. When making decisions about arms transfers, countries must now take into account the humanitarian consequences.


Relief at the border

Thousands of Libyans and foreign workers hoping to escape the ongoing armed clashes in Libya have fled to Tunisia, where the Tunisian Red Crescent has mobilized volunteers to respond to the urgent humanitarian needs of refugees. The Tunisian Red Crescent has established an operations base in the border-crossing area in order to provide food, psychosocial care and other services with support from the IFRC and the government of Japan. The Libyan Red Crescent, one of the few humanitarian organizations still working in Libya, has provided essential medical and relief assistance since the eruption of violence in May.

Due to deteriorating security conditions in Libya, the ICRC temporarily moved its international staff to Tunis, Tunisia in July. With the support of 130 Libyan staff members, the ICRC has been working with the Libyan Red Crescent to provide essential support for Libyan hospitals, respond to emergencies and assist internally displaced persons.




“No one wants to be near me. They are afraid. They refuse even to take our money if we want to buy something in the store or eat in a restaurant.”
Nelson Sayon, 29-year-old member of the Liberian Red Cross Society’s safe and dignified burials team in the country’s capital Monrovia, as quoted by Time magazine.



Militaries meet to discuss IHL

Senior military officers from 57 countries gathered in Xi’an, China, in late September to take part in the Senior Workshop on International Rules Governing Military Operations (SWIRMO) 2014. As part of their mission, the officers simulated an operation to liberate a small island under enemy control while complying with international humanitarian law (IHL). Jointly hosted by the ICRC and the People’s Liberation Army of China, SWIRMO 2014 offered military leaders a chance to share experiences concerning the challenge of applying the law governing military operations. “The law of armed conflict is facing multiple new challenges, making it necessary for countries to enhance communication about the law of armed conflict,” says Yan Jun, deputy secretary-general of the Chinese army’s general political department.


Monsoon brings floods to Pakistan

Late monsoon rains in September unleashed a devastating flood, inundating large areas of Pakistan and affecting around 2 million people. The Pakistani government’s National Disaster Management Authority says close to 44,000 homes were destroyed and more than 1.5 million acres of standing crops lost. More than 300 people have died. As part of its initial response to the floods, the Pakistan Red Crescent Society distributed food and relief items such as tents and tarpaulins, hygiene kits and items of daily use to 13,000 families. “Our entire village came under two metres of water,” says 40-year-old Kausar Bibi. “We escaped with our lives but have lost everything.”


More migrants lost at sea

The past few months have been one of the deadliest periods for migrants at sea in recent years. More than 750 people, a majority from the Middle East and Africa, have drowned in the Mediterranean Sea while en route to Europe. Often the migrants cross the sea in old, overcrowded fishing boats, which at times do not have enough fuel to reach Europe. As National Societies such as the Italian Red Cross provide first aid, medical assistance and psychosocial support, the IFRC is calling for better cooperation between countries of origin, transit and destination in order to ensure the dignity and safety of all migrants, irrespective of their legal status. 


Somalia food crisis looms

Three years after a severe food crisis affected Somalia in 2011, growing numbers of people are once again suffering acute problems and even more are at risk. “A number of different factors are contributing to a series of localized problems in both the centre and the south of the country, but also in the far north of Somalia,” says Mohamed Sheikh Ali, who coordinates ICRC efforts to develop food production and relief. “But the populations worst affected are those suffering an overlap of climatic and conflict shocks.”


Humanitarian index

1: the length of a scarf, in kilometres, hand-knitted to commemorate missing people in Peru. In August, a portion of the scarf was draped across an ICRC headquarters building in Geneva to commemorate the International Day of the Disappeared.*
44: percentage of disaster-related deaths caused by floods in 2013. Floods are the type of disaster that claim the most lives each year. Storms claimed 41 per cent of disaster-related deaths in 2013.**
81: percentage of people affected by disasters in 2013 who live in Asia.**
97: percentage of burials of Ebola victims in Guinea that have been performed by the Red Cross Society of Guinea.***
529: number of disasters that were reported worldwide in 2013, of which 337 were natural disasters and 192 were technological or man-made disasters.**
810: number of disasters reported in 2005, the year with the highest number of reported disasters since reliable records have been kept.**
9,533: number of volunteers trained to respond to the Ebola outbreak between March and November.***
102,000: number of surgical cases
handled between July and September in Gaza by medical authorities supported in part by the ICRC.*
100 million: number of people estimated to have been affected by disasters in 2013, well below the high levels of the period from 2007 to 2011.**

Sources: *ICRC, **Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters, ***IFRC


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