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‘Panic is the enemy’ when Ebola strikes

Ever since Ebola swept through eastern Sierra Leone this summer, 21-year-old Julius Tamba Kamanda has been extremely busy performing a dangerous and crucial task. Kamanda belongs to the Sierra Leone Red Cross Society dead body management team (pictured above), which often collects as many as 8 or 9 bodies per day as part of efforts to contain the deadly disease. “We don’t have a day off,” he says, adding that team members start at 8 am and “sometimes get back to our homes around midnight.”

Similarly, volunteers from the Red Cross Society of Guinea have also been collecting dead bodies and stepping up emergency communication to contain rumours and raise awareness on how to prevent the spread of the virus. “The Red Cross can play a pivotal role in trying to stem the fear and stigma which can rise very quickly during such an outbreak,” says Facely Diawara, who oversees the National Society’s health operations. “Panic is our worst enemy.


Photo: ©Katherine Mueller/IFRC


Korea Red Cross brings comfort and aid

When a passenger ferry carrying 475 people — 325 of them students — capsized in the waters south-west of the Republic of Korea in April, the world watched images of shocked and grief-stricken family members cope with their loss as authorities tried to provide answers. Volunteers with the Republic of Korea National Red Cross, meanwhile, provided direct assistance, bringing relief items and mobile kitchens to the port of Jindo, near to where the tragedy occurred. As anxious relatives awaited news, volunteers provided survivors and family members with hot meals, bottled water, blankets and other relief supplies. Meanwhile, 40 trained Korea Red Cross practitioners offered psychological and emotional support.

 


Iraq conflict escalates

With armed conflict escalating in Iraq, the Movement is responding to what has become a large-scale, complex humanitarian crisis.

The ICRC has distributed food, water and other aid to displaced people in numerous cities and provided medical support and supplies to local hospitals. “Many hospital personnel have fled because of the danger, and there is a shortage of medicines,” says Patrick Youssef, head of the ICRC delegation in Iraq.

Some 4,000 Iraqi Red Crescent Society volunteers are also involved in providing assistance, and 18 branch operation rooms have been set up to distribute aid, according to the IFRC, which allocated US$ 400,000 from its Disaster Relief Emergency Fund to support the National Society.

Branches in several northern provinces, for example, have provided thousands of hot meals, as well as tents and other assistance for families displaced from Mosul. In the town of Sinjar, the population has grown from 23,000 people to more than 70,000 as people seek refuge from fighting in the nearby city of Tal Afar. “We are hosting people in schools, mosques, unfinished buildings — we are offering our own houses,” says branch director Muhammad Shariif.

 


Voices

Speaking of inappropriate aid…

 


“During a drought in
Zambia,
we received
donations of
second-
hand underwear. This

topic [of inappropriate
aid] is
very real.”

Samson Mujuda,
a representative
of the Zambian em-
bassy in Ethiopia,
speaking during a
November 2013
meeting of diplomats
and disaster manage-
ment experts from 35
African nations in a
disaster response
dialogue at the African
Union (AU) in Addis Ababa,
Ethiopia.

 

 

“As part of our
response to

Typhoon Haiyan,
we received

four boxes of
ball gowns.”

Jeanine Cooper,
representative
of the United Nations
Office (UN) for the
Coordination of
Humanitarian Affairs
to the AU, speaking
at the same meeting,
which also focused
on developing better
agreements and national
legislation to improve
timely delivery of
appropriate aid.

 


More violence in Mali

Violent clashes between Malian armed forces and armed groups in and around the small town of Kidal in north-eastern Mali have forced thousands of people to flee towards the city of Gao, about 350 kilometres to the south. “Most had to flee quickly, leaving everything behind, and now it’s hard for them to meet their basic needs,” says Christoph Luedi, head of the ICRC delegation in Mali. In response, the Mali Red Cross and the ICRC distributed more than 55 tonnes of food to around 4,450 people, some 1,800 of whom were also given tarpaulins, insecticide-treated mosquito nets, sleeping mats, blankets, kitchen utensils, buckets, clothing and hygiene items. Meanwhile, the Movement welcomed the news that five members of an ICRC team, abducted while travelling in northern Mali in February, had been freed.


Helping women in emergencies

Many refugees fleeing Syria into neighbouring Lebanon often find themselves living in informal tent settlements or unfinished buildings that lack even the most basic sanitation services. While this puts the entire refugee population at risk, the lack of adequate hygiene is often hardest on women. In response, the IFRC and the Lebanese Red Cross are providing women’s emergency kits for 5,300 women and teenage girls. The kits include basic necessities for maintaining feminine hygiene and items that can help protect women in cases of sexual violence. “I am eager to learn how my daughters and I can benefit from this women’s kit,” says Salwa, one of the 1 million refugees who have fled to Lebanon since the conflict started in Syria.


ICRC condemns murder of Libya delegate

An ICRC delegate with more than seven years’ experience carrying out assignments in Gaza, Iraq, Sudan and Yemen was killed by armed men in the city of Sirte, Libya in early June. Michael Greub, a 42-year-old Swiss national, had been the head of the organization’s Misrata sub-delegation since March. Two staff members who were with him when the incident occurred remain extremely shocked, but were physically unharmed. “The ICRC vigorously condemns this heinous attack,” ICRC Director-General Yves Daccord said. “We are devastated and outraged. Michael was a devoted humanitarian who spent many years of his life helping others.

 

Humanitarian index

2.5: percentage of people suffering from dengue who die from the infection.
20: percentage of those who contract dengue and die from the infection if they lack adequate health-care services.
70: percentage by which the local production of medicines in Syria has been reduced during three years of conflict.
15,000: average number of reported cases of dengue per year in the 1960s.
400,000: number of people that the UN estimates have been displaced due to fighting in Iraq.
6.5 million: people displaced inside Syria.
390 million: approximate number of dengue cases reported annually in the world today.

Sources : IFRC, ICRC, United Nations, Syrian Arab Red Crescen

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