News and Events

Latest news from Africa

Media Advisory: COVID-19: Red Cross experts available for media interviews

Geneva, Beirut, Budapest, Kuala Lumpur, 27 February 2020 – The Red Cross and Red Crescent is scaling up COVID-19 programmes across every region to prevent transmission of the virus, help communities already affected by the outbreak to maintain access to basic social services, and reduce the economic, social and psychological impact on people.

Red Cross Red Crescent experts are available to discuss our COVID-19 response efforts in priority and affected countries.

Our experts can highlight some of the concrete measures that individuals and local communities can take to protect themselves and prevent further transmission of COVID-19. They can also explain the importance of sharing accurate information and addressing fear, discrimination and stigma–all of which increase the spread of disease and have a negative impact on COVID-19 response efforts.

Available experts and languages spoken include:

IFRC Geneva: Dr Emanuele Capobianco, Head of Health & Care (English, Italian, Portuguese)

Gwendolen Eamer, Health Emergencies Officer (English, French)

Africa Regional Office: Dr Adeiza Ben Adinoyi, Head, Health and Care, (English, French)

Americas Regional Office: Maria Tallarico, Head of the Regional Health (English, Spanish)

Jono Anzalone, Head of the Disaster and Crisis Response (English, Spanish)

Asia Pacific Regional Office:  Dr Oyungerel Amgaa, Head of Health (English, Mongolian, Russian)
Dr Abishek Rimal, Emergency Health Coordinator (English, Hindi, Nepali)

Dr Merete Storgaard, Emergency Health Officer (Danish, English)

Europe Regional Office: Seija Tyrninoksa, Deputy Regional Director a.i. (Finnish, English)

Middle East & North Africa Regional Office: Dr Ayman Jarboui, Head of Health (English, Arabic)

Mozambique: Thousands remain vulnerable to recurrent disasters one year on from Cyclone Idai

Beira/Nairobi/Geneva, 11 March 2020 — It is almost 12 months since Cyclone Idai hit Mozambique, but communities remain intensely vulnerable to the next big disaster, which is a matter of “when, not if”—the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) warned today.

Cyclone Idai was 2019’s biggest disaster, killing more than 650 people and affecting more than 1.8 million others in the southern African country. While Red Cross teams have made significant progress in the response that followed the devastating cyclone, including giving emergency and recovery assistance to more than 310,000 people, the scale of the needs continues to outstrip the resources that are available to meet them.

The Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre notes that cyclones like Idai “fit what we expect to see in a world where the climate is changing: stronger and more destructive storms, both in terms of wind intensity and amounts of rainfall (and thus flooding and landslides). To avoid impacts from ballooning even further, we must minimize further warming and increase ambition to reduce risk and preparedness for such events.”

Mozambique Red Cross and its partners have provided emergency shelter, shelter reconstruction, livelihoods support, health services and community mobilization activities, as well as health facility reconstruction and psychosocial support. Yet thousands of people remain in a precarious situation, vulnerable to extreme weather that has been hitting the region.

Rui Alberto Oliveira, IFRC’s head of operations in Mozambique, said: “Cyclones Idai and Kenneth hit communities that were already facing challenges from recurring floods and droughts, ongoing economic instability, non-resistant building construction, poorly maintained and protected water structures and assets, and communities heavily reliant on subsistence agriculture.”

Recent events show how quickly communities can be set back. In the past month, Buzi district, which was devastated by Cyclone Idai, was again hit by severe flooding, with thousands displaced from their homes and many left clinging to trees to avoid being swept away by the rising river.

Following last year’s cyclones, the Mozambique Red Cross has strengthened its branch in Buzi, allowing an immediate local response to last month’s disaster, saving scores of lives in the days before outside help could reach the district.

“In addition to meeting humanitarian needs, significant investments in the recovery phase are needed in affected countries to ‘build back better’ and include support for climate-smart, risk- informed development,” Alberto continued.

The IFRC emergency appeal launched after Cyclone Idai is 86 per cent covered, leaving a funding gap of some 4.4 million Swiss francs to complete the two-year response and recovery programme.

All Stories

COVID-19: IFRC, UNICEF and WHO issue guidance to protect children and support safe school operations

GENEVA/NEW YORK, 10 March 2020 – The International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), UNICEF and the World Health Organization (WHO) today issued new guidance to help protect children and schools from transmission of the COVID-19 virus. The guidance provides critical considerations and practical checklists to keep schools safe. It also advises national and local authorities on how to adapt and implement emergency plans for educational facilities.

In the event of school closures, the guidance includes recommendations to mitigate against the possible negative impacts on children’s learning and wellbeing. This means having solid plans in place to ensure the continuity of learning, including remote learning options such as online education strategies and radio broadcasts of academic content, and access to essential services for all children. These plans should also include necessary steps for the eventual safe reopening of schools.

Where schools remain open, and to make sure that children and their families remain protected and informed, the guidance calls for:

  • Providing children with information about how to protect themselves;
  • Promoting best handwashing and hygiene practices and providing hygiene supplies;
  • Cleaning and disinfecting school buildings, especially water and sanitation facilities; and
  • Increasing airflow and ventilation.

The guidance, while specific to countries that have already confirmed the transmission of COVID-19, is still relevant in all other contexts. Education can encourage students to become advocates for disease prevention and control at home, in school, and in their community by talking to others about how to prevent the spread of viruses. Maintaining safe school operations or reopening schools after a closure, requires many considerations, but if done well, can promote public health.

For example, safe school guidelines implemented in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone during the outbreak of Ebola virus disease from 2014 to 2016 helped prevent school-based transmissions of the virus.

UNICEF is urging schools – whether open or helping students through remote learning – to provide students with holistic support. Schools should provide children with vital information on handwashing and other measures to protect themselves and their families; facilitate mental health support; and help to prevent stigma and discrimination by encouraging students to be kind to each other and avoid stereotypes when talking about the virus.

The new guidance also offers helpful tips and checklists for parents and caregivers, as well as children and students themselves. These actions include:

  • Monitoring children’s health and keeping them home from school if they are ill;
  • Encouraging children to ask questions and express their concerns; and
  • Coughing or sneezing into a tissue or your elbow and avoid touching your face, eyes, mouth and nose.

Download the joint guidance on protecting children and schools from COVID-19 here

Stay Updated

Quick Contact

+251 11 518 60 60/61/72