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In Brief

 

Middle East being bled dry by conflict

Even before conflict broke out in Iraq and Syria, people in the Middle East were suffering from severe water shortages as the past few years’ rising violence and record low rainfall have made access to an adequate quantity and quality of water increasingly difficult, according to a recent report by the ICRC. Many of the ageing water, sanitation and electrical systems that service the region’s growing population were already struggling to keep up with demand even before the conflicts began. Now, with more than 7.5 million people displaced within Syria and some 3.7 million seeking safety in neighbouring countries, already fragile water systems in communities hosting displaced people are being pushed to the limit, and water quality continues to deteriorate.




Photo: ©Iraqi Red Crescent Society

‘Hoping to escape death’ in Iraq

When fighting in the central Iraqi city of Ramadi forced thousands of people to flee their houses, they look for refuge in safer areas in the country, particularly in Al Amiriyah Fallujah and Al Khalidiya in Al Anbar province. The Iraqi Red Crescent Society reported that more than 2,000 families were displaced, worsening the already fragile humanitarian situation. “The situation in the city is bad,” said Abu Ahmed, who was displaced by recent violence. “We witnessed many people losing their lives because of the exchange of fire.” The Iraqi Red Crescent dispatched aid convoys but recent rounds of fighting put an additional strain on the resources of the National Society, which was already providing urgent support for more than 2,500 families who had fled to the cities of Habbaniyah, Fallujah and Husaibah the month before.

 



Calls for action on migration

The secretaries general of 21 European Red Cross Societies, along with IFRC Secretary General Elhadj As Sy, have called for more compassionate action on behalf of migrants after yet another series of sea disasters claimed the lives of thousands of people in the Mediterranean Sea. “We need to recognize that the plight of migrants also constitutes a humanitarian emergency,” the secretaries general wrote in a public opinion piece, published in May. The secretaries general rejected the argument that easing the journey could be ‘pull factor’ that encourages even more migration: “We in the Red Cross urge our governments to rise above such rhetoric, recognize that migration is a fact of life, and meet their obligations under international law.”

 

 

 

 


 

Remembering the ‘old ways’

A project that links high-tech weather forecasting with traditional knowledge is being piloted in the Pacific island nation of Tuvalu in an effort to help people cope with climate change and disasters. The idea is to strengthen people’s resilience by delivering effective weather, climate and early warning information to affected communities in local languages and in ways that will be understood and accepted by local communities. Olioliga Iosua, secretary general of the Tuvalu Red Cross Society, says this information, combined with traditional knowledge, will help people in the target community of Teone cope better with disasters. “There are old ways of coping with hardship that we need to revive, like how to dry, salt or bury food to keep it fresh, sometimes for years,” she said. “It’s in the Red Cross disaster plan. Young people are used to buying food, but older people remember these older ways.”

 


Voices to action

When the 32nd International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent convenes in December, will the voices of people at the grass roots be heard? A Movement-wide initiative called Voices to Action, launched in August, answers that question with an interactive, online platform aimed at ensuring that global discussions in December reflect local needs. The idea is to engage National Society staff and volunteers in a dialogue on the three themes of the International Conference: preventing and responding to violence; safety and access; and risk reduction and resilience. Make your voice heard at: www.voicestoaction.org

 

 



Three Nepal Red Cross workers killed in earthquake

As the Nepal Red Cross Society continues its work on behalf of thousands of people affected by the earthquakes in April and May, it also pays tribute to three National Society members who died while on duty on 25 April. Sanumaiya Kapali, 53, Lal Maya Gurung, 43, and Sirman Dangol, 20, were killed while running a blood donation drive in Kathmandu’s historic Durbar Square. Seven other people also died along with the Red Cross workers when the earthquake caused the building to collapse.

 


Suffering worsens as fighting continues in northern Nigeria

In the north-eastern Nigerian city of Maiduguri, the epicentre of fighting between Boko Haram and the Nigerian army, the scale of humanitarian needs and the horrific mental scars and physical injuries the violence is leaving on the population are appalling. “Whole communities have fled their villages and endured unimaginable suffering,” said ICRC President Peter Maurer during a recent visit. An estimated 1.5 million people have been displaced, mostly within Nigeria itself. The ICRC has distributed emergency food and essential household items to nearly 260,000 people in north-east Nigeria and 65,000 people in neighbouring Niger. It is also appealing for an additional US$ 60 million while the IFRC has launched an emergency appeal for US$ 2.8 million aimed at providing livelihood and psychosocial support, healthcare, household items and access to clean water to 150,000 people.

 

Humanitarian index

54: The number of National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies that are addressing gender and sexual violence related to conflict or disaster, according to a Movement-wide mapping exercise undertaken by the IFRC and ICRC.
1,750: The number of people believed to have died en route from Libya to Lampedusa, Italy in the first four months of 2015.*
5,000: The number of people believed to have died while attempting to cross the Mediterranean to Europe in the last 18 months.*
50 million: The number of people forced to migrate last year, the first time this number has been reached since the Second World War.*
640,497: Number of houses damaged by the April and May earthquakes in Nepal, of which more than 222,000 were completely destroyed, according to the Nepali government.
930,000: Number of families displaced by the April and May earthquakes in Nepal, according to the Nepal Red Cross Society.

Sources : *International Organization for Migration.


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