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Sahel faces imminent hunger crisis

Many countries across the Sahel will soon experience a major food crisis if urgent measures are not taken now to mitigate the effects of declining rainfall and a 25 per cent drop in food production, as well as higher food prices. The most affected countries are likely to be Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Niger and northern Senegal. “The harvest was bad and there is already a food shortage,” said Salif Sy, who decided to leave his village with his wife without deciding on a particular destination. “We will try to look for and move to areas with water and grazing in order to save our cattle, the only resource left to us now.” The IFRC launched an emergency appeal in January and allocated emergency disaster relief funds while the ICRC also continued to provide a variety of emergency food and health relief services.

Photo: ©Nathalie Bonvin/IFRC

Movement deplores killing of Syrian Red Crescent leader

The death of Abd-al-Razzaq Jbeiro, the secretary general of the Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC), in early January shocked and saddened the Movement. Jbeiro was shot while travelling on the main Aleppo–Damascus highway in a vehicle clearly marked with the Red Crescent emblem.

Both the IFRC and the ICRC called on all those involved in violence in Syria to respect the mission of the Red Crescent, which is to aid and assist people in need in a neutral and impartial manner. The SARC’s president has submitted an official request to the Syrian authorities to investigate the killing.

In a joint letter to the SARC’s president, the IFRC’s president, Tadateru Konoé, and secretary general, Bekele Geleta, wrote: “The loss of such an experienced and committed Red Crescent leader in the course of his humanitarian duties is hard to bear… Our Movement is greatly diminished by his passing.”

Beatrice Megevand-Roggo, head of ICRC operations for the Near and Middle East, said that the ICRC condemned attacks on vehicles carrying the Red Crescent emblem regardless of the circumstances. “The lack of respect for medical services is still a great issue in Syria,” she said.


Italian Red Cross responds to capsized ship

Roughly 250 Italian Red Cross staff and volunteers took part in a rescue and relief operation at the site of the capsized liner Costa Concordia. The cruise ship hit rocks off Italy’s west coast in early January, killing at least 12 people and injuring 70 more.

Volunteers have supplied more than 800 people with clothes, shoes, hygiene kits, medicines and other material. They moved people to nearby hospitals, and provided health care for 40 of the injured passengers at the Orbetello medical post.

Quotes of note

“If collectively we
have learned one
lesson from the
shelter response in
Haiti, it’s the need
for flexibility.”

Xavier Genot,
Movement shelter
coordinator in Haiti
(Click here for more)

“I know I can do
this, I can make
a success of
my business.”

Marlene Lottee,
42-year-old mother
of three who lives
in the Delmas
30 neighbourhood
of Port-au-Prince
(Click here for more)

“The difference you
make can be small,
and it can take time,
but you can make
a difference.”

Jakob Kellenberger,
ICRC president
(Click here for more)


Project targets malaria in Central African Republic

In a desperately poor region in south-eastern Central African Republic where the number one cause of death is malaria, violent acts committed by some weapon bearers have made the delivery of health care extremely precarious.

Since September 2011, the ICRC has been carrying out a pilot project in Obo in order to tackle the health-care problem despite these constraints. The project aims to diagnose the disease at the first sign of symptoms, administer anti-malarial drugs and provide medical care throughout the treatment – all without cost to the patient. The programme has already shown that early treatment drastically reduces the mortality rate.

Working to prvent elderly abuse.

According to the World Health Organization, between 4 and 6 per cent of older people have experienced some form of abuse in their own homes, ranging from physical, sexual and psychological abuse to financial exploitation, neglect and abandonment.

In Serbia, which has one of the oldest populations in Europe (15.4 per cent of inhabitants are over the age of 65), the Red Cross of Serbia has developed a home-care programme to sensitize and educate volunteers and the general public about discrimination and abuse.

One of the most active Red Cross branches is in Kragujevac, where 13 older volunteers work on a telephone helpline to assist their vulnerable peers and neighbours in solving many of the problems they may encounter including issues of health care, welfare, poverty and abuse.


Malnutrition in the wake of floods

High levels of malnutrition among the flood-affected communities of Pakistan’s Sindh province remains one of the most challenging humanitarian problems, confirm doctors working with the Pakistan Red Crescent Society.

According to a survey conducted before the floods by the Sindh Department of Health and the United Nations Children’s Fund, acute malnutrition rates in the province reached 22.9 per cent in the north and 21.2 per cent in the south. These rates are well above the World Health Organization’s 15 per cent emergency threshold, which triggers a humanitarian response.

Photo: ©Olivier Matthys/IFRC

Humanitarian index

8:23: Minutes and seconds taken at the General Assembly to read the role call of attending National Societies, from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe.
131: Number of National Societies that attended the Movement’s 2011 Statutory Meetings in Geneva in November.
377: Number of pledges made by National Societies during the Statutory Meetings.
25,000: Number of Haitian families provided with ‘improved shelter’ solutions by the Red Cross Red Crescent since the January 2010 earthquake in Haiti.
500,000: Estimated number of people currently living in Port-au-Prince camps for people displaced by the 2010 quake.
735,000: Number of times three TEDxRC2talks were viewed during the first two months after they were posted on line. To see the talks, visit:


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