Welcome to the Weekly Worldwide Wrap-Up, in which we consolidate the international Red Cross and Red Crescent news into one list of bite-sized links for you. It’s a non-comprehensive sampling of the larger and/or more intriguing aspects of our global work…
INDIAN OCEAN: The 8.6 earthquake that struck off the coast of the Indonesian Island of Sumatra last week brought fears that the region might see a repeat of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami which caused widespread devastation. Fortunately the tsunami never materialized, but it was clear that this time communities were significantly better prepared than in 2004. Sirens triggered by tsunami early warning systems alerted people in towns and villages along the coast in several nations, assisted in the evacuation process by Red Cross volunteers. Since 2004, regional Red Cross societies have been hard at work putting in place effective community-based early warning systems that include the training of volunteers, mock drills, construction of community centers in safer locations, installation of warning sirens and identification of evacuation routes.
MALI: Since mid-January Northern Mali has been in crisis, making it difficult for the population to obtain health care, water and food. At this stage, the ICRC’s priority is to establish dialogue with all parties in order to obtain guarantees for the safety of its staff and security for equipment and supplies needed to carry out humanitarian operations. With the support of ICRC staff, major efforts are under way to meet needs in Gao and Timbuktu. The ICRC is also hard at work in neighboring countries where tens of thousands of Malians have sought refuge, often in conditions of great hardship.
IRAQ: Many people in Iraq are still struggling to earn a living and support their families. In January and February, the ICRC enabled upgrades to 44 miles of irrigation canals and nearby agricultural land through cash-for-work programs that benefitted 1,800 people. The ICRC also has ongoing programs to visit detainees, assist health-care facilities, provide clean water and sanitation, clearing unexploded munitions, clarifying the fate of missing people, and promoting compliance with international humanitarian law.
AFGHANISTAN: Given the growing incidence of scabies in Afghanistan’s overcrowded jails, the ICRC has launched an eradication campaign in cooperation with prison authorities. Scabies is highly contagious and caused by egg laying mites, leading to severe itching and discomfort. The eradication team has already visited several jails in both the north and southern parts of the country, and is using a series of decontamination, treatments, and hygiene training for detainees and staff.
Volunteers assisting in public warning, IFRC.