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Red Cross doubles front-line disaster relief funding

26 January 2021, MVT 21:20
Paramedic of the Mexican Red Cross Jesus Carmona poses for a photo after having transferred a COVID-19 patient to an emergency room in Toluca, Mexico, on January 8, 2021. - Faced with the saturation of hospitals in the country due to the Coronavirus pandemic, which has left more than one and a half million infections and around 132,000 deaths, the Mexican Red Cross is coordinating with health centers and emergency services to find available beds in the area. (Photo by ALFREDO ESTRELLA / AFP)
26 January 2021, MVT 21:20

The Red Cross announced Monday it was more than doubling disaster relief money for front-line responders, in a change to how it reacts to climate-related humanitarian crises.

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), the world's largest humanitarian network, said the expansion was part of an attempt to adapt emergency reponses to the increased crisis caseload caused by climate change.

IFRC secretary general Jagan Chapagain said that in the past three decades the number of climate and weather-related disasters had increased nearly 35 percent.

"Over the past decade alone, 83 percent of all disasters were caused by extreme weather and climate-related events that killed 410,000 people and affected 1.7 billion," he said in a statement.

"It is unrealistic and irresponsible to expect that the needs created by these events have been or will be met by international actors. Instead, we need to do better job of supporting the efforts of local responders."

The IFRC believes its Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF) is the most efficient way of channelling money to front-line responders because the Red Cross and Red Crescent societies that receive the funds are already embedded in the communities they assist.

The DREF was set up in 1985 to provide immediate financial support to national Red Cross and Red Crescent societies, enabling them to operate as first responders after a disaster.

It has supported more than 200 million people since then, said the Geneva-based IFRC.

Recently, an average of 30 million Swiss francs ($34 million, 28 million euros) has been channelled through the fund annually.

The IFRC plans to work with donors to double this in 2021, with a view to growing it to 100 million Swiss francs a year by 2025.

The federation is also expanding its forecast-based action plan to anticipate and mitigate disasters, releasing funding early for swift interventions based on risk.

The approach was used six times in 2020, notably in Bangladesh, Ecuador, Mongolia and Mozambique, for example by snap evacuations or strengthening houses.

"For years, we have warned that the world's reactive approach to disaster management was inadequate," said Chapagain.

Geneva, Switzerland | AFP

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