Red Cross supports global partners to battle coronavirus pandemic

By Eilene Guy, American Red Cross volunteer

June 22, 2020- As the COVID-19 pandemic continues across the globe, the American Red Cross is actively supporting its sister organizations that are working to prevent and respond to the health disaster.

The Red Cross has donated $720,000 to bolster virus-related activities of Red Cross and Red Crescent societies around the globe.

Red Cross COVID-19 Response in the Bahamas 2020

Trumbull County native Jenelle Eli is part of the International Services division at Red Cross headquarters in Washington, D.C.

“I want everyone to understand that not only is the American Red Cross actively responding to needs here in the U.S., but we’re also working with long-term partners around the world to ease the burden of this outbreak,” Jenelle said.

Jenelle often travels abroad to monitor the impact of Red Cross humanitarian activities. Currently, those trips are on hold.

Red Cross COVID-19 Response in the Bahamas 2020

But if she were in Haiti, for instance, she would see local Red Cross volunteers distributing masks, gloves and sanitizer—partially funded by the American Red Cross—along with accurate information about keeping safe from the disease.

In Colombia, she would see a widespread hand washing campaign and antibacterial gel dispensers at community gathering points. She would also see basic health services being provided to refugees from neighboring Venezuela.

On the other side of the world, in the giant refugee camp at Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh, she would witness 3,400 Red Cross volunteers teaching their fellow residents how to spot the symptoms of COVID-19 in order to reduce the spread of infection. Meanwhile, refugees who have begun a cottage industry of sewing are being paid to make vitally needed masks.

In nearby Myanmar, Red Cross support is funding a massive hygiene education effort with posters and stickers, as well as temperature screening checkpoints and services at community quarantine facilities.

Red Cross COVID-19 Response in the Bahamas 2020

Back on our side of the world, in the Bahamas, Red Cross support is making it possible for the Bahamian Red Cross to deliver food and clean drinking water to residents who are especially vulnerable to the coronavirus.

“These are just a few of the activities that Red Cross and Red Crescent societies have identified as local needs. We’re making it possible for teams to increase their lifesaving efforts all around the globe,” said Jenelle, who also spoke of American Red Cross team members’ efforts in Indonesia , Mexico, Panama and El Salvador.

Read more about these international activities here.

Red Cross COVID-19 Response in the Bahamas 2020

“Americans can be proud to be supporting these humanitarian efforts through the extraordinary reach of the Red Cross and Red Crescent network,” Jenelle said.

Jenelle isn’t the only northern Ohioan involved in this outreach. Every supporter of the Red Cross makes these efforts possible. To support the international team, make a donation by visiting redcross.org, calling 1-800-REDCROSS or texting Red Cross to 90999.

Edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer

World Humanitarian Day Draws Attention to #NotATarget Movement

By Ifat Gazia, American Red Cross volunteer

The list of civilian killings around the world continues to grow. At least 51 people were killed last week in Yemen when an  airstrike claimed lives of 40 school children and 11 other people. In Syria, 500,000 civilians have been killed in the last seven years and the Syrian Red Crescent has lost more than 60 of its team members to violence since the crisis began. More than 14,000 civilians lost their lives in the ongoing Kashmir conflict.

This is World Humanitarian Day,  meant to pay tribute to aid workers who risk their lives in humanitarian service and to rally support for people impacted by crises around the world. The #NotATarget movement asks world leaders to do everything in their power to protect all civilians caught in conflict zones worldwide.

Although civilians are protected under International Humanitarian Law, every year, thousands of innocent people – children, young, old, men, women, physically challenged, migrants, refugees, aid workers, doctors, journalists and others who work or live in conflict zones lose their lives to the violence.

On this World Humanitarian Day, let’s take a moment and commemorate the daily struggles of these civilians who live or work in war torn areas. Armed conflict affects lives in many ways and leaves long term effects on the victims of war, especially children.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) protects the lives and dignity of victims of war, and provides them with aid.  Therefore, on this Humanitarian Day let’s campaign together and make sure that civilians are #NotATarget for political instabilities and armed conflicts. Let’s ensure organizations like the International Committee of the Red Cross—and the local Red Cross and Red Crescent societies that work alongside them—are freely allowed to operate with their aid operations in conflict-ridden areas, and that rules of war are followed, especially not to bomb hospitals and schools, kill innocent children and hamper or stop aid operations.

 

International Youth Day

By Ifat Gazia, American Red Cross volunteerifat

Over the years, since 1999, a lot has been said about the importance of International Youth Day. Every year, with a different premise, social issues and challenges are brought into the forefront, so that the roles of young men and young women are celebrated as equal partners in change and making the world a better place. But alongside the celebrations is an important reminder to raise awareness about the difficulties and challenges faced by the youth in current times.

This year’s theme is very critical and central to the contemporary debates of world peace and safety. This year International Youth Day is centered on creating safe spaces for youth worldwide.  Some of those spaces can be social, civic or even digital. But can safe spaces be really created everywhere in the world where a large portion of the population is facing war, exile and migration?

The International Committee of the Red Cross is a driving force behind international humanitarian law, a set of rules that seek to limit the effects of armed conflict by offering protection to civilians. It also sets parameters to activities that are accepted or not accepted on the battleground and beyond.

Furthermore, the organization, of which the American Red Cross is a global partner, supports the study of international humanitarian law at the secondary and university levels across the globe by providing training, internships and online resources to people who work on the ground, such as journalists, aid workers, doctors, policy makers, humanitarian practitioners or researchers.

Bringing youth together, harnessing their talent and making them speak about their fears and experiences when no one is judging them can be difficult from a practical point of view. Spaces where they can talk openly without the fear of persecution, prison and punishment are hard to create and difficult to sustain. But  as long as there are organizations like the American Red Cross and the International Committee of the Red Cross, these initiatives look very much achievable.

Observing a Day of Solidarity with Detained and Missing Human Rights Workers

By Ifat Gazia, American Red Cross Volunteer, Northeast Ohio Region

ICRC Annual Report 2013 - Syria

Syrian Arab Red Crescent volunteers retrieving dead bodies from the streets of Aleppo. Photo © Syrian Arab Red Crescent/TAYYAR, I.

The Syrian war entered the 8th year just a week back. This deadly war not only led to a loss of over 350,000 lives in the past seven years, but also the displacement of 5.6 million Syrian people.

More than 60,000 of them have gone missing.

Therefore, this war drew to itself the attention and intervention of international humanitarian organizations, the United Nations, and other human rights defenders from all across the world. But the violence in Syria didn’t spare even these aid workers and peacekeepers who worked for these organizations locally.  Many of these aid workers or UN staff members have been either abducted or are missing. Some of these staff members were also the local Syrians. Through 2017 alone, 28 UN staff members have been missing in Syria or have been abducted by different armed gunmen. There are many more missing who work with other aid organizations like the Red Cross/ Red Crescent and ICRC (International Committee of the Red Cross).

Wars are always political, but the pain and destruction associated with them is unquestionably personal. Likewise, the pain suffered by the families of these staff members who are missing in Syria and other conflict regions of the world is beyond solace.

Every year, March 25th is recognized as the International Day of Solidarity with Detained and Missing Staff Members. The commemoration of this day began after the abduction of a UNRWA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency) journalist Alec Collect in 1985, who was working in the near East for Palestinian refugees. Due to the increasing number of incidents of violence against peacekeepers and aid workers working in different conflict zones all across the world, it has become essential to observe this day.

This day is an international day of solidarity with the families of those who lost their loved ones, and sometimes their only breadwinners. Henceforth, providing a significant reminder every year on this day that measures should be taken to stop the intensified violence against peacekeepers worldwide and stop their enforced disappearances is very critical.

This day is also a reminder for other people who are not directly linked to conflict to work towards world peace. This day is a reminder that wars do no good to anyone. This day is a reminder that it’s a war that creates refugees. It is a war that leads to enforced disappearances and killing. It is because of a war that we lose our loved ones.