Country: Americas

Colombia: 120,000 people at high risk as dam threatens failure

Bogota/Panama/Geneva, 19 May 2018 – Red Cross emergency volunteers are being mobilised to help tens of thousands of people threatened by the possible failure of a hydroelectric dam in the north-east of Colombia. If the dam bursts, devastating floods could affect 120,000 people in five municipalities of the country’s Department of Antioquia. The Colombian authorities have declared a high alert and ordered the evacuation of communities near the Cauca River. According to the National Disaster Risk Management Unit, UNGRD, only 6,485 of the 120,000 people at high risk have been evacuated so far. The Colombian Red Cross is supporting UNGRD in its preparedness and contingency planning work. Walter Cotte, Regional Director for the Americas at the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), said: “This situation has been worsening for a number of days and now looks like it may be reaching a critical level. It is a priority to guarantee the orderly evacuation of people in the municipalities most at risk. “The Colombian Red Cross has more than 200 volunteers of various specialties ready to be deployed, and has put its search and rescue, and medical staff on alert. We are preparing for the worst.” The Colombian Red Cross is being supported by IFRC disaster response specialists in-country, who are preparing an Emergency Plan of Action and requesting resources from IFRC’s Disaster Relief Emergency...

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New fund could be a “game-changer” for humanitarian action

Geneva, 8 May 2018 – A ground-breaking new humanitarian fund designed to mitigate and even prevent the damage and trauma caused by natural disasters has been launched by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC). “We think this is a game-changer, not only for the Red Cross and Red Crescent, but for humanitarian action as a whole,” said Pascale Meige, IFRC’s Director of Disaster and Crisis Prevention, Response and Recovery. “Our new forecast-based action fund means that guaranteed money will be available to help communities prepare for a disaster before it strikes.” The IFRC’s Forecast-based Action fund uses a combination of weather predictions and historical data to fix triggers for the automatic release of money for pre-agreed early action plans. For example, a combination of forecast rainfall combined with the level of a river at a certain point can be used to activate funding for downstream evacuations and the distribution of shelter kits for the people who have been moved to safer ground. IFRC’s Meige said: “For decades, humanitarians have been calling for a shift to proactive and preventative humanitarian action, but such action has so far been sporadic. For the first time, this fund, and the work we are doing to build country-level plans and agreements, can consistently deliver on this promise – turning promises into action. “It means that life-saving action can now...

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About the IFRC

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies is the world's largest humanitarian network and is guided by seven Fundamental Principles: Humanity, impartiality, neutrality, independence, voluntary service, universality and unity.