International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies https://media.ifrc.org/ifrc The website of the international Red Cross Red Crescent Movement Thu, 22 Oct 2020 09:32:43 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.15 The Disaster Law Programme: Ten years in the Pacific https://media.ifrc.org/ifrc/2020/10/21/disaster-law-programme-ten-years-pacific/ Wed, 21 Oct 2020 08:06:06 +0000 https://media.ifrc.org/ifrc/?p=69729 Photo: Enia, pictured left, is registered at the first aid distribution following Cyclone Pam. Red Cross was the first organisation sanctioned by the Government of Vanuatu to begin relief distributions after a halt from the government due to an influx of uncoordinated international aid and assistance.   The International Federation of Red Cross and Red […]

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Photo: Enia, pictured left, is registered at the first aid distribution following Cyclone Pam. Red Cross was the first organisation sanctioned by the Government of Vanuatu to begin relief distributions after a halt from the government due to an influx of uncoordinated international aid and assistance.

 

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) Disaster Law Programme has worked in the Pacific since 2010, starting with the review of Vanuatu’s legal and policy framework for disasters in partnership with the Government of Vanuatu and Vanuatu Red Cross.

When Tropical Cyclone Pam tore through Vanuatu in 2014, shortly after the review was finalised, Vanuatu issued its first-ever request for international assistance, to which the response was beyond expectation, and the country was flooded with uncoordinated aid and assistance. Described as a ‘wakeup call’ by the Government of Vanuatu for international disaster law legal reform, it was a catalyst for Vanuatu and the rest of the Pacific.

An IFRC disaster law advisor was quickly deployed to support the government with regulatory barriers arising from the response, and in the weeks, months and years that followed, the journey to review, reform and operationalise laws and policy relating to disaster management began in Vanuatu. Since then, IFRC’s Disaster Law Programme has reached across the Pacific Ocean to work in fifteen Pacific countries.

Today, we near the completion of the review of Fiji’s National Disaster Management Act in partnership with the Government of Fiji and Fiji Red Cross.  This is a significant piece of work that will support the national disaster risk management system to be proactive and focused on disaster risk reduction, a shift from a traditional reactive, response-based model. The review includes the adoption of a cluster system, establishment of subnational administration, regulation of international aid, the strengthened role of a disaster service liaison officer and legal facilities for recognised NGOs and humanitarian organisation. Consultations for the review have been with diverse groups from across Fiji, ensuring that no one is left behind in legislation and in the decision-making process.

IFRC’s Disaster Law Programme in the Pacific brings technical experience and expertise, but equally important is the unique way in which we work – long term programming, support that is localised and contextualised and coordination that brings everyone together.

For countries like Vanuatu, where significant disaster law reform has been carried out, humanitarian responses are coordinated, effective, and locally-led, with aid getting to those that need it most – a must for the number one ranked disaster risk country in the world.

As the only international organisation mandated to provide disaster law technical advice, there is an increasing demand for our support and a widened scope that includes protection and inclusion, displacement, climate change, holistic support to governments on risk governance, and now, COVID-19.

Pacific communities are at the frontline of disasters and climate change, and with the arrival of COVID-19 to their shores, supporting governments to have effective disaster laws and well-functioning disaster risk management systems in place which can respond to a multitude of hazards, is crucial for a humanitarian structure that can save lives.

 

  • 15 Pacific countries working with the Disaster Law Programme
  • 15 disaster law research projects
  • 14 countries with disaster law Influenced or in the process of influencing
  • 10 Pacific governments currently engaging in disaster law processes

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The Disaster Law Programme: Fifteen years in Asia https://media.ifrc.org/ifrc/2020/10/21/disaster-law-programme-fifteen-years-asia/ Wed, 21 Oct 2020 07:52:40 +0000 https://media.ifrc.org/ifrc/?p=69717 Photo: Red Cross has been involved in disaster law activities in Lao PDR since 2009 when research was undertaken on legal preparedness for responding to disasters and communicable disease emergencies. Due to an inherent link between climate change and disaster events, the Lao Government has decided to develop an integrated legal framework for disaster risk […]

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Photo: Red Cross has been involved in disaster law activities in Lao PDR since 2009 when research was undertaken on legal preparedness for responding to disasters and communicable disease emergencies. Due to an inherent link between climate change and disaster events, the Lao Government has decided to develop an integrated legal framework for disaster risk management and climate change, which would be one of the first of its kind in the region. Since 2013, IFRC and Lao Red Cross have been working with the UNDP and the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment on the development of this law.

 

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) Disaster Law Programme works across the diverse and vast region that is Asia, from Afghanistan to Japan, Mongolia to Timor Leste, providing disaster law technical support, capacity building, peer learning and research in 21 countries for more than 15 years.

In Asia, the Disaster Law Programme focuses on countries with particularly high disaster risk and those who are actively developing or reviewing their disaster risk management legalisation. We have worked across Southeast Asia – Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar and the Philippines. We have worked extensively in Nepal following the 2015 earthquake, Mongolia, and recently in China, where a research report, International Disaster Response Law in China, has been under consideration by the Ministry of Emergency Management.

Given the differences and diversity of the region, the Disaster Law Programme’s approach in Asia is not ‘one size fits all’. This tailored approach applies to who the programme works with, adapting to work in partnership with governments, national disaster management offices, Red Cross Red Crescent Societies and with regional bodies like ASEAN.

The tailored approach also reflects the growing scope of the Disaster Law Programme and the needs of the countries– from response-based to underpinning all aspects of disaster risk management – risk reduction, preparedness for response and recovery, integration into resilience and also working to ensure community engagement in the disaster law process.

In Mongolia, IFRC and Mongolia Red Cross have worked with the Government to revise disaster protection law through a contemporary approach to disaster management, moving the country from a reactive response paradigm to one which is proactive and works to prevent and reduce the risk of disasters on people, livestock and the environment. Mongolia is now putting concerted efforts into ensuring these new frameworks are implemented and well understood, particularly at the community level through a national awareness campaign with support from Red Cross.

A common and important theme to our approach and outcome of the work in Asia is a shift to a more localised way of working, with disaster law processes and systems grounded in strong and nationally owned governance frameworks, and regional mechanisms. With countries like the Philippines, Indonesia and Japan who have immense experience responding to frequent and intense disasters and emergencies, huge knowledge and expertise already exist in within the region.

Effecting law and policy change requires a long-term investment and partnership. Having worked in the region for more than 15 years, we are now working with countries who are already in a position to review disaster management laws for a second time, following the learnings over time from large scale disasters and wanting to ensure that their governance frameworks are more responsive to current and emerging challenges like displacement, climate change and health hazards.

Fifteen years on from our early work in Asia after the huge tsunami to hit the region in 2004, we are again working regionally as we respond to the COVID-19 pandemic alongside National Societies, governments and communities to ensure all emergency preparedness and response efforts – whether it be for natural hazards, climate induced, or public health emergencies is underpinned by clear laws and regulations.

 

 

  • 21 countries engaged with disaster law programme
  • 18 countries with disaster law research projects
  • 12 countries with disaster law influenced or in the process of influencing 9 countries with successfully influenced law change
  • 7 governments currently engaged in disaster law processes

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When the pandemic reached the indigenous communities in northern Argentina https://media.ifrc.org/ifrc/2020/10/20/pandemic-reached-indigenous-communities-northern-argentina/ Tue, 20 Oct 2020 21:55:25 +0000 https://media.ifrc.org/ifrc/?p=69706 By Olivia Acosta Maximiliano is 24 years old, a senior nursing student at the Argentine Red Cross Superior Institute in Salta, a province located in the northwest of Argentina that borders Bolivia, Chile and Paraguay. He is also responsible for the humanitarian camp of the Argentine Red Cross in Salta, where he and his colleagues […]

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By Olivia Acosta

Maximiliano is 24 years old, a senior nursing student at the Argentine Red Cross Superior Institute in Salta, a province located in the northwest of Argentina that borders Bolivia, Chile and Paraguay. He is also responsible for the humanitarian camp of the Argentine Red Cross in Salta, where he and his colleagues support 800 indigenous families of Wichis, Toba and Chorote ethnicities every day. The project started at the beginning of the year due to the declaration of an emergency following the death of 10 indigenous children from malnutrition and lack of access to water. According to Maximiliano, “it was at this time when the Argentine Red Cross decided to implement a humanitarian camp to provide health care, food and drinking water to indigenous families affected by malnutrition and drought, and to support the development of their capacities”.

The camp is located in the heart of the communities, in the middle of nowhere, and through its 10 tanks and a water treatment plant it is able to provide between 45,000 and 60,000 liters of water daily to the indigenous families of the area. Survival in Salta is very difficult, the temperature can reach 45º, the area is very arid and deserted. “Access to the communities is very complicated, there are no roads, we had to create them ourselves in order to be able to get there with our vehicles and bring water every two or three days. The children are waiting for us very excited, with the little cups ready… I have learned to value water very much, you realize how important it is when you don’t have it. Since we brought them the water, we have managed to reduce diarrhea and improve the children’s size, because before they took water from contaminated rivers, putting their health at risk.

Given the scarcity of medical care in the area, the camp also has a first aid tent and a mobile team to be able to move patients from the most remote villages. All camp volunteers are trained in first aid and provide support to families with a protection, gender and inclusion perspective. When COVID-19 arrived in the area, Maximiliano thought that if there were a high number of infections, the pandemic could wreak havoc, because it would be very difficult to control it. Indigenous families are very vulnerable and their houses, which are barely 8 square meters, with mud walls and plastic roofs, are home to families of more than 8 people, in conditions of great poverty and overcrowding. “The first thing I thought was: how are we going to teach them to wash their hands to avoid infection, if they barely have water?.

All camp volunteers are trained in first aid and provide support to families with a protection, gender and inclusion perspective. When COVID-19 arrived in the area, Maximiliano thought that if there were a high number of infections, the pandemic could wreak havoc, because it would be very difficult to control. Indigenous families are very vulnerable and their houses, which are barely 8 square meters, with mud walls and plastic roofs, are home to families of more than 8 people, in conditions of great poverty and overcrowding. “The first thing I thought was: how are we going to teach them to wash their hands to avoid infection, if they barely have water?

With the arrival of the pandemic, the volunteers of the camp had to work to adapt to the isolated conditions and decided to increase the distribution of drinking water, with the intention of generating more hygienic habits in the families. Besides that, they started to collaborate with the San Victoria Hospital in the “Plan Detectar”. Their work consists of visiting the communities to evaluate symptoms and respiratory problems, with the objective of verifying the need for PCR tests if the established criteria are met. For severe cases they coordinate the transfer to the hospital and for mild ones, they follow up on their health status at home and distribute masks and hygienic disinfection kits. According to Maximiliano, “the use of masks has been complicated for them, because they had never worn any before. We had to hold workshops and give guidelines through community radio to advise, for example, to avoid crowds. Now, almost 75% wear masks and follow the prevention measures, which has been a success and has compensated for all the effort. So far, we have had 18 positive cases and 16 are already recovered,” he says proudly.

According to Maximiliano, these are nomadic communities that are deeply rooted in their culture, religion, and language, and it is not easy to establish relationships. “I have been in the camp for 250 days and now everyone knows us, several volunteers are learning their language, some even speak it already, and wichi language is very complicated! For the children of the indigenous families, the camp is a fun place with trailers, motorcycles, lights, vehicles… they find it very appealing and love to come visit us”.

Now begins the second stage of the project for the development of these communities and improvement of their quality of life, through a plan of crops and gardens, training in the use of recycling, waste collection, construction and access to latrines, among others. “Sometimes we get frustrated when we think about all the work we have ahead of us to support the development of these communities, we feel like ants, but then I always think: if we weren’t here, how would they be now? And then I see the progress we made together with the families, I realize the great value we bring and how important it is for the communities,” concludes Maximiliano.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, the Argentine Red Cross has been developing articulated actions to support the response to COVID-19 with the aim of reducing infections, alleviating the suffering of affected people and their families, and contributing to reduce the impact of the emergency in the country. Since the beginning of the pandemic, the volunteers of the Argentine Red Cross have carried out more than 9,500 social and health actions in response to the emergency.

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How can we tackle a growing COVID-19 caused mental health crisis? https://media.ifrc.org/ifrc/2020/10/19/can-tackle-growing-covid-19-caused-mental-health-crisis/ Mon, 19 Oct 2020 01:57:24 +0000 https://media.ifrc.org/ifrc/?p=69686 By Dr Eliza Cheung, Technical Advisor International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies Reference Centre for Psychosocial Support.  In ‘ordinary’ times, good mental health is fundamental for overall wellbeing. But when we are all stalked by fear and uncertainty caused by COVID-19, access to good mental health support is more important than ever. […]

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By Dr Eliza Cheung, Technical Advisor International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies Reference Centre for Psychosocial Support. 

In ‘ordinary’ times, good mental health is fundamental for overall wellbeing. But when we are all stalked by fear and uncertainty caused by COVID-19, access to good mental health support is more important than ever. It is life-saving. There is mounting evidence that this Coronavirus is taking a heavy toll on the mental health of people in Asia and across the globe.

At the global level, a major review of 36 studies across the world has found that around one in three people are suffering from stress, anxiety or depression during this pandemic, while recent modelling suggests that unemployment caused by COVID-19 may lead to almost 10,000 additional suicides a year.

An analysis of 160 studies of eight South Asian countries also shows that nearly one in three people experienced anxiety or depressive symptoms.

In the midst of this global pandemic, it is understandable that people are worried about their health, their loved ones and how they will cope if they get sick. Ongoing restrictions are limiting social interaction, leading to increased loneliness and isolation. COVID-19 is causing enormous stress for people who were already worried about how they will support their families.

A new survey by the International Committee of the Red Cross in seven countries, including the Philippines, shows that one in two adults believe their mental health has been negatively affected by COVID-19. It is also alarming that latest World Health Organisation (WHO) figures reveal the pandemic has interrupted or suspended mental health support services in 93% of countries.

Across most countries in Asia, investment in mental health support is woefully inadequate, even before this pandemic and in some countries there are only 0.3 psychiatrists and psychiatric nurses to serve 100,000 people. By contrast, WHO data shows that the rate of psychiatrists is 120 times higher in countries such as France, Canada and Sweden.

The stresses we are experiencing affect us physically, psychologically and emotionally, as well as changing our behaviour. The stress undermines our ability to stay healthy, look after our families, and process new information. It can endanger nurses, doctors, police, leaders and disaster responders, jeopardising life-saving decisions to contain the virus and reduce longer-term impacts.

People already living with mental health challenges are experiencing the loss of critical support networks and clinical management. Yet they need this care more than ever.

We simply cannot afford to wait until the epidemic is under control before dealing with the massive, and increasing, psychological toll. To have any hope of stopping and recovering from this pandemic in a way that leaves no one behind, we need to treat the psychological and physical distress at the same time.

So how can we do it? Early intervention prevents distress from developing into more severe mental health conditions. We need to bridge the gap between those who need psychological and emotional support and those who seek it. We also need to better harness and strengthen existing community and clinical resources.

Preventing psychological issues and mental health support need to be integrated at all levels, in local communities, workplaces, schools, in hospitals and health systems.

People in communities are our first line of defence, making teachers, parents and colleagues in our workplaces critical for bridging the current resource gap. We urgently need to invest in supporting, engaging and equipping them to know what questions to ask, what signs to look for and what to do if someone may be struggling.

Asia-Pacific is the world’s most disaster-prone region and many people have developed an incredible ability to cope with adversity. Across our region, millions of Red Cross and Red Crescent volunteers are first to respond, experiencing the stress in crises, from monsoon floods to typhoons, and COVID-19.

The trauma is real. People have lost loved ones, jobs or livelihoods. They have been separated by borders or quarantine, stranded and jobless in another country or living in crowded camps. All too many are overcome by anxiety, depression and distress.

It’s vital that we all support each other at this time. Get in touch. Be kind to friends, family, neighbours and colleagues, as well as ourselves. Taking good care of oneself enables us to take care of others.

We are at a crossroads. The response to COVID-19 and associated socio-economic impacts will be more effective and we will save countless more lives and livelihoods if we invest wisely in accessible and sustainable mental health and psychosocial support.

– ENDS

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In pictures: Handwashing as the first line of defense https://media.ifrc.org/ifrc/2020/10/15/pictures-handwashing-first-line-defense/ Thu, 15 Oct 2020 02:32:16 +0000 https://media.ifrc.org/ifrc/?p=69426 Photo: Ibrahim Mollik / IFRC This year COVID-19 reminded the world about the importance of handwashing, and that it is often the first line of defence against any form of bacteria or virus. Under the theme “Hand Hygiene For All”, Red Cross Red Crescent has been working to ensure all communities are aware of proper […]

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Photo: Ibrahim Mollik / IFRC

This year COVID-19 reminded the world about the importance of handwashing, and that it is often the first line of defence against any form of bacteria or virus.

Under the theme “Hand Hygiene For All”, Red Cross Red Crescent has been working to ensure all communities are aware of proper and regular handwashing. Realising that not all communities have access to handwashing facilities such as clean water, soap and relevant equipment, we doubled our efforts to ensure communities around the region had access to the basic tools they needed to stay healthy and safe.

 

Photo: Philippine Red Cross Society

Like other Red Cross Red Crescent National Societies around the region, Philippine Red Cross has made handwashing an integrated part of its efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19, from running national education campaigns to teaching kids how to properly wash their hands.

These children-focused programs have been moulded into their efforts to provide food, hygiene kits and testing for COVID-19 in most at risk communities. Prepaid mobile phones have been provided to restore separated families while sharing life-saving information to protect them from the pandemic. These programs have helped children to de-stress, play and have fun.

 

Photo: Rohan Chakravarthy / Indian Red Cross

Efforts to promote good hygiene and provide water and sanitation equipment have often been carried out in the most difficult circumstances. For the Indian Red Cross Society this included setting up water points and providing information sessions amidst severe floods that hit the Assam district of northeast India in September 2020.

 

Photo: Viet Nam Red Cross Society

Along with demonstrating proper handwashing techniques, staff and volunteers distribute masks and provide other information about how to prevent the spread of COVID-19 as part of the coordinated approach to tackling the virus. In countries like Viet Nam, this often involves local Red Cross volunteers going door-to-door in remote communities.

 

Photo by Sri Lanka Red Cross

Red Cross Red Crescent National Societies also prioritise schools in their efforts to promote good hygiene practices, providing knowledge that students will carry with them beyond the school grounds and share with their families. To ensure students and teachers have the proper facilities and training, many of these programs include setting up handwashing stations, like this one in Sri Lanka.

 

Photo: Timor-Leste Red Cross Society

Timor-Leste Red Cross has a similar program, with volunteers visiting kindergartens to help start healthy habits in young children as part of their handwashing campaign. It is never too early to learn how to wash your hands, they believe. For children, handwashing is a fun and exciting activity as they get to play with water and soap.

 

Photo: Philippine Red Cross Society

Many Red Cross Red Crescent handwashing programmes focus on reaching marginalised groups – such as indigenous communities, displaced families and those living in poverty – who may not have access to suitable handwashing facilities. Philippine Red Cross, for example, helped indigenous communities in a remote area of Bataan to set up their water system to have an accessible and a clean water supply.

 

Photo: Bangladesh Red Crescent Society

In Cox’s Bazar, the water, sanitation and hygiene team of the Bangladesh Red Crescent Society spends time with displaced communities (more often in their very homes), informing them about the importance of washing their hands, and how it can reduce the risk of them and their families catching COVID-19.

 

Photo by Meer Abdullah / Afghan Red Crescent Society

Large towns are just as important. In Kabul, staff and volunteers of the Afghan Red Crescent Society went door-to-door to hand deliver soaps and encourage people to make regular handwashing part of their daily routines.

 

Photo: Philippine Red Cross Society

COVID-19 was catalyst that accelerated more focus on hygiene programs, especially handwashing. The IFRC is committed to elevating handwashing access and practice in all settings, including households, healthcare facilities, schools, workplaces, and other public spaces.

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Yearbook of International Disaster Law – Third Webinar https://media.ifrc.org/ifrc/2020/10/09/yearbook-international-disaster-law-third-webinar/ Fri, 09 Oct 2020 08:50:40 +0000 https://media.ifrc.org/ifrc/?p=69375 At the occasion of the launch of the call for abstracts of Issue no. 3 (2020) of the Yearbook of International Disaster Law published by Brill, the Editors, in cooperation with the American Society of International Law Disaster Law Interest Group and the Jean Monnet Project DILAW4EU, are pleased to organize a series of webinars. […]

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At the occasion of the launch of the call for abstracts of Issue no. 3 (2020) of the Yearbook of International Disaster Law published by Brill, the Editors, in cooperation with the American Society of International Law Disaster Law Interest Group and the Jean Monnet Project DILAW4EU, are pleased to organize a series of webinars.

THIRD WEBINAR
Tuesday 13th October (15-16.15 CEST). ‘Covid-19: An International Disaster Law Perspective’’ Link to the MS Team Webinar

Confirmed speakers
Gian Luca Burci (Graduate Institute, Geneva)
Stefania Negri (University of Salerno)
Marco Toscano-Rivalta (UNDRR)

Moderator
Marlies Hesselman (University of Groningen, Editor YIDL)

Participation is free of charge and available through above link to MS Teams. The webinar include a Q&A session and will be recorded.
Time zone: CEST.. Previous recorded webinars are available here
Further updates at: : @ YearbookIDL and ASIL Disaster Law Interest Group

Click here for Flyer Yearbook of International Disaster Law – Third Webinar

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Yearbook of International Disaster Law – Call for Abstracts https://media.ifrc.org/ifrc/2020/10/09/yearbook-international-disaster-law-call-abstracts/ Fri, 09 Oct 2020 07:55:45 +0000 https://media.ifrc.org/ifrc/?p=69359 Yearbook of International Disaster Law Brill Publisher Call for Abstracts Vol. No. 3 (2020) – Deadline for abstracts: 31st October 2020   ABOUT THE YIDL The Yearbook of International Disaster Law (YIDL) aims to foster the interest of academics and practitioners on legal and institutional issues relevant to all forms of natural, technological and human-made […]

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Yearbook of International Disaster Law
Brill Publisher

Call for Abstracts
Vol. No. 3 (2020) – Deadline for abstracts: 31st October 2020

 

ABOUT THE YIDL
The Yearbook of International Disaster Law (YIDL) aims to foster the interest of academics and practitioners on legal and institutional issues relevant to all forms of natural, technological and human-made hazards, including rapid and slow onset disasters, but excluding events such as armed conflicts or political/financial crises per se.

The goal is to provide a forum for innovative research contributing to the international legal and policy debate related to prevention, mitigation, response and recovery phases in
disaster scenarios.

The YIDL is a peer reviewed journal published by Brill and is available in printed and on-line form.

 

STRUCTURE OF THE YIDL
1. Thematic Section: this section includes articles focused on a specific topic. For Issue no. 3 the selected topic is “Health and Disasters” in order to explore the intersection of disasters with international health law, including pandemics/COVID- 19 specifically.

2. General Section: This section contains articles addressing any topic relevant in the area of international disaster law.

3. International disaster law in practice: This open-access section provides overviews and analysis on legal and institutional developments relevant for disaster scenarios, arranged according to international organisations, geographical areas and branches of international law.

4. Bibliographical index and books reviews: these sections contain a bibliographical index and reviews of books related to international disaster law published in the year in review.

 

CALL FOR ABSTRACTS
The Editors welcome submissions of abstracts for the ‘Thematic’ and ‘General’ Sections on the basis of the selection process detailed below.

We also welcome suggestions for books reviews of recently published books addressing any aspect of international disaster law.

 

DEADLINE FOR ABSTRACTS
Abstracts for potential papers to be published in the ‘Thematic’ and ‘General’ articles sections of the YIDL shall be sent by 31st October 2020 at the e-mail address: info@yearbookidl.org.
Abstracts should be between 700 and 1,000 words.

Authors are also kindly requested to attach a short curriculum vitae to their e-mail.

 

SELECTION PROCESS OF ABSTRACTS
The selection process of submitted abstracts will be coordinated by the Editors of the YIDL and results will be communicated to applicants in mid-November 2019.
Authors of selected abstracts must confirm that the paper they wish to submit has not been previously published and is not currently under consideration for another Publication.

 

DOUBLE-BLIND PEER-REVIEW PROCESS
Full manuscripts (max. 10.000 words, footnotes included) are due by 15th March 2021.
Papers will be subjected to a double-blind peer review process managed by the YIDL, before being finally accepted for publication. Authors shall take into account remarks received from reviewers in the final submitted version of their manuscript. For full details please refer to the YIDL website.

 

Click here for Flyer Call for Abstracts Yearbook of International Disaster Law Vol. No. 3 (2020)

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Dr. Abbas Finds Physical Distancing a Real Challenge in Iraq to Fight COVID-19 https://media.ifrc.org/ifrc/2020/10/08/dr-abbas-finds-physical-distancing-real-challenge-iraq-fight-covid-19/ Thu, 08 Oct 2020 14:30:39 +0000 https://media.ifrc.org/ifrc/?p=69351 Randa El Ozeir: The Iraqi Red Crescent Society (IRCS) has gathered its efforts to fight COVID-19, and launched “Your Doctor” program to guide, sensitize, and refer people to the relevant health services depending on their situation. In our conversation with the President of the IRCS, Dr. Yaseen Abbas, we talked about how Iraqis are dealing […]

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Randa El Ozeir: The Iraqi Red Crescent Society (IRCS) has gathered its efforts to fight COVID-19, and launched “Your Doctor” program to guide, sensitize, and refer people to the relevant health services depending on their situation. In our conversation with the President of the IRCS, Dr. Yaseen Abbas, we talked about how Iraqis are dealing with the pandemic, which hasn’t changed much of their behavior and social culture although it caused them to lose their livelihood and revealed the depth of the economic and social crisis inflicting on the country. Dr. Abbas stressed the need to strengthen Disaster Risk Reduction and Management to protect the population and keep and attract the local and foreign investments.

Why the situation in Iraq regarding COVID-19 hasn’t improved despite all the adopted measures?

Any measure taken during a pandemic wouldn’t succeed if citizens do not cooperate or understand its importance. Since the beginning, it was obvious that the adopted measures focused on the health side without looking into the reality of livelihood. In the first phase, a curfew has been imposed in Iraq. And this simply meant livelihood interruption for citizens who earn their living from daily jobs. I don’t think citizens would respect such a curfew as it affects their livelihood and their families’ and would find breaking this ban as their only option.

The second and more important point in my opinion is the physical distancing during social event. The social celebrations didn’t stop at all, namely “Majalid Al-Aza’a” (Mourning Gatherings). It is an occasion where come together the parents, relatives, friends, locals, and everyone who had known the deceased. They crowd in pavilions, mosques, and halls for three days as per the customs in Iraq. Social distancing was not practiced as well as the physical distancing in such occasions. Shaking hands, and even hugging, continued. Besides, visits during the curfew did not ease if not increased due to work suspension, and the chances upped for everyone to stay late and meet in the morning, at noon, and at night.

Do you find that learning and education factor in helping with the awareness about the seriousness of COVID-19? And how do you deal with people who believe only in our written fate? 

Learning plays a crucial and direct role in the process of accepting and perceiving information. But nowadays, we notice a lot of confusion circulating through the social media. Unfortunately, part of the confusion is coming from highly educated people. 

There is been a talk lately, about the concept of “COVID-19 fatigue” as a widespread phenomenon among people, the youth in particular. Does this apply to Iraq or specific parts of it?

Yes, it does apply to Iraq, and I suspect it to be a human nature regardless of the country. The latest measures in Iraq reflect this fatigue, which is noticed through the complete opening of institutions. All restaurants, coffee shops, and public shops are open in a manifestation of COVID-19 fatigue.

Prior to COVID-19, Iraq was still struggling with social, economic, and political crisis. How the unfavourable impact of the virus reflected in the whole situation of the country?

As a result of COVID-19, many jobs discontinued in Iraq. For instance, the hospitality and restaurant sector almost stopped altogether. It employed huge numbers of citizens and affected other related sectors, which was a direct reason for too many to lose their livings, especially those who bank on daily jobs with no protection or insurance.

The other factor is the falling of oil prices, which directly affected many businesses linked to official spending, such as construction, business related to public firms, buying from the markets, and the salary of some public employees or the people who do daily work with the government. The government was in a tight spot to secure the permanent employees’ salaries, which led to harming some of those who earn a daily living.

“Your Doctor” for Help and Guidance

Are there any particular initiatives you like to highlight or believe they played, or could play, a positive role in protecting the population?

In the extensive awareness program the IRCS adopted since the end of last January, the Society launched “Your Doctor” project due to the many confusing opinions circulating about COVID-19. We gave the phone numbers of numerous doctors to guide, at certain hours, those who are suspected of being infected or who are actually infected. Our doctors receive a high volume of calls and refer the caller to the best way of consulting health institutions when his situation worsens and encourage him not to ignore the approved health guidelines in Iraq, as well as these of World Health Organization.

We asked the government to adopt the concept of “Disaster Risk Reduction.” The world and the investors evaluate the countries’ situation by their capacity and resilience at times of disasters whether it be natural or man-made. The risks of investment and building projects in a country are assessed by its capacity to deal with all kinds of disasters. A lack of such plans raises the risk level in investment for both local and foreign investors.

Iraq suffered an unrest due to the living conditions that affected the stability of political situation. There were demonstrations and strikes that might have coincided with what happened in Lebanon. Then later came the COVID-19 pandemic. We all need to understand that “Disaster Risk Reduction” is not a luxury, but a necessity and foundation for any development process to achieve progress and stability. The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, and notably the National Societies, and the IFRC are involved in directing the government’s focus to prepare emergency plans. To this date, many governments haven’t done that. This is a real problem, as we may find ourselves facing other disasters without any fending governmental plans, the way it happened with COVID-19. Thus, we see the amplified effect in our countries where the most vulnerable groups in society are to bear it.

There’s no doubt that the virus is present among the healthcare workers on the frontline, and the volunteers and staff of the IRCS are no exception. What measures are in place to curb the spread of cases, and how do you deal with the infection cases within the Society?

From the beginning, we realized that our affiliates should follow three simple steps: cleaning the hands, wearing a mask, and social distancing. So we have made clear decisions to reduce the number of people in the offices, limit the numbers within the field teams, and in a clear educational method, stress on the importance of taking the obligatory steps to keep the hands clean and put on the mask. We succeeded to a great extent in preventing the infections inside and through our activities and in our institutions. But this did not spare our staff and volunteers from getting infected by their social interactions, in one way or another, with their families and other members of society. There have been cases, but I believe that 99 percent, if not 100 percent, of them came from outside the Iraq Red Crescent National Society.

Are you still capable of providing the Society’s regular services on a daily basis (for instance, the ambulatory services, the psycho-social support, etc…) although COVID-19 has been on the top priority of the service list?

The psycho-social support is currently a continuing service, namely for the patients, their families, the medical and health cadres who have started to suffer from exhaustion and anxiety too. We offer the First Aid now through our ambulances, but with lower frequency compared to previous times. In fact, I think that as IRCS, we should do business as usual, but gradually and with safe coexistence with people.

What does it mean for you, personally, to be the IRCS president in the time of COVID-19? What are the most difficult challenges you have to face?

As a president of the IRCS in such circumstances and in a country where human suffering is diverse and abundant, it means one thing: keep trying to be innovative in all means. We shouldn’t follow the traditional ways, as we have to be creative in order to deliver our response to the amounting humanitarian needs deriving from COVID-19 and from other issues. And this is the primary challenge. Thank God we haven’t stopped providing our services to the community and were able, despite the regular life disruption for a period of time, to conduct our activities according to population’s needs emerging from the pandemic. As IRCS, I believe we navigated lots of phases in fulfilling our humanitarian goals, as well as answering people’s requirements.

Among other challenges is maintaining the National Society’s regular activities, effectiveness, and staff performance. I mean here particularly its the staff who have been working every day, day and night, without interruption in spite of the difficult circumstances that we went through.

 

 

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The pandemic is not over https://media.ifrc.org/ifrc/2020/10/08/the-pandemic-is-not-over/ Wed, 07 Oct 2020 23:48:20 +0000 https://media.ifrc.org/ifrc/?p=69318 By Olivia Acosta Alexander Arauz is a 22 year old interior designer. He is also studying Business Administration in Rivas, a city in the South Pacific of Nicaragua, very close to the Costa Rican border. He began his volunteering with the Nicaraguan Red Cross as a lifeguard in the Rivas branch 7 years ago, also […]

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By Olivia Acosta

Alexander Arauz is a 22 year old interior designer. He is also studying Business Administration in Rivas, a city in the South Pacific of Nicaragua, very close to the Costa Rican border. He began his volunteering with the Nicaraguan Red Cross as a lifeguard in the Rivas branch 7 years ago, also he participated in the emergency of Tropical Storm Nate, as well as in Zika prevention projects, and now he is part of the network of communicators in the organization.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, Alexander wanted to help in the design and implementation of activities to support the population in the fight against the pandemic, such as the dissemination of prevention measures against the virus and the psychosocial support service, to help manage the stress of people with COVID, or those who have lost their loved ones due to the pandemic.

According to Alexander, “The people we talk to are having a hard time, we even practice self-relaxation exercises with them to try to reduce their stress.  There are other people who want to know how they should protect themselves and receive accurate information about COVID-19. We have also set up a Facebook account to spread how to use the masks, what are the mechanisms of transmission of the virus, and how they should protect themselves to avoid infection”.

Alexander has many things to tell, but one of the experiences most impressed him is about the support offered to the hundreds of truck drivers who were blocked in the border with Costa Rica for several weeks, due to movement restrictions imposed by the pandemic. “They were truck drivers from several countries in the region (Panama, Guatemala, Mexico, Honduras and Costa Rica), who could not access with their trucks across the border to Costa Rica or Panama, to deliver their goods.  The situation they found themselves was deplorable, they had to live outdoors with their clothes on and sleep under their trucks, exposed to unhealthy conditions, and even to robberies…”.

Nicaraguan Red Cross has been supporting them in this difficult situation and has delivered more than 1,000 food kits to the truck drivers and also reviewed their health status. According to Alexander, “many of them were afraid of getting the virus and we had to take temperatures to check for fever or other symptoms of COVID-19. I remember that, among all of them, there was only one woman. She was very worried about beeing in touch with her children and thanks to the neighbors in the area, she was able to recharge her cell phone several times to be able to talk to them”.

All Nicaraguan Red Cross volunteers wear protective equipment with masks, caps and goggles to do their work. According to Alexander, “At first we were all worried about getting the virus and infect our families, especially when we transported by ambulence people who might have coronavirus. But if you follow the established protective measures, you feel safe and realize that the most important thing is the value of the work we do for others. I feel very good and satisfied, we are working to support the population in these hard times, we feel like heroes without a cape helping people we do not know, treating them as if they were our relatives.

According to Alexander, as it is also happening in other countries of the region, the prevention measures against the virus are quite relaxed now and some people do not even wear a mask. “Although in Nicaragua there was never a mandatory confinement, at the beginning people did not go out very much from home, respected physical distances, and almost all wore masks. There were even people who looked like astronauts walking down the street. Now we see a lot of people without protection, in crowds, and even many families are sightseeing and going all together to the beach… we have a hard job ahead of us to continue raising awareness, because the pandemic is not over,” he concludes.

Nicaraguan Red Cross. Since the beginning of the pandemic, the actions of the Nicaraguan Red Cross have focused on contributing to the epidemic control of the virus at the national level through the promotion of hygiene, the use of masks and the distribution of hygiene kits to the most vulnerable populations. Likewise, since last March the Nicaraguan Red Cross has been implementing the development of a massive communication campaign focused on the prevention of COVID-19, reaching more than 1.5 million people.

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Ecuador: help that arrives in time https://media.ifrc.org/ifrc/2020/10/03/ecuador-help-arrives-time/ Fri, 02 Oct 2020 22:47:02 +0000 https://media.ifrc.org/ifrc/?p=69152 By Melissa Monzon “Thanks to the help of the Red Cross we will be able to protect our health, now not only from COVID, but also from volcanic ashfall. We hadn´t received help; we will use the tools to cultivate and for construction. This help is great, these tools will help us a lot”, says […]

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By Melissa Monzon

“Thanks to the help of the Red Cross we will be able to protect our health, now not only from COVID, but also from volcanic ashfall. We hadn´t received help; we will use the tools to cultivate and for construction. This help is great, these tools will help us a lot”, says Agustin Chicaiza, a resident from the Laime Capulispungo community in Chimborazo, Ecuador.

Like Agustin, many families in the community have been affected with the volcanic ash fall from the Sangay, whose activity increased since early hours of September 20 of this year. Therefore, the Ecuadorian Red Cross activated the Early Action Protocol (EAP), which allow them to immediately assist families in the most affected rural communities in the following days.

The Forecast-based Financing mechanism has allowed us to activate our first Early Action Protocol for volcanic ashfall. Thanks to the support of the International Federation of the Red Cross, the German Red Cross and the Climate Center, from Ecuadorian Red Cross we have provided humanitarian assistance to a thousand families from the communities of Totorillas, Laime, and Cebadas that have been affected by volcanic ashfall from the Sangay volcano”, complements Maria Fernanda Ayala, specialist in Geographic Information Systems of the National Program of Risk Management of the Ecuadorian Red Cross.

The EAP aims to establish adequate early action, using ash dispersal and deposition forecasts, which benefit the most vulnerable families in the most affected areas. On this occasion, after the increase in Sangay activity, the Ecuadorian Red Cross carried out an analysis where it crossed variables such as response capacity, vulnerability, exposure and ash dispersion and ashfall forecasts from the Geophysical Institute of the National Polytechnic School (IGEPN), and decided to activate the EAP on the same day, September 20, at night. This shows how the forecasts allow the Red Cross to respond in advance.

Also, the EAP allowed an economic distribution to be distributed, through the Cash and Voucher Assistance (CVA) program, where families receive an IFRC card with an amount that will help them cover their basic needs and protect their livelihoods. “Through the CVA program, people have the freedom to buy their materials, they really cover the needs they have due to the damage caused by volcanic ash and they can take early actions. They are given a debit card, and this money is intended as a complementary help. They were told how to withdraw the money from the ATM and where to redirect it (protection of livestock, crops and protection of their health)”, says Luis Alberto Rocano, Zone 3 Coordinator of the Ecuadorian Red Cross.

Through Early Action Protocols, the Red Cross can access funds immediately so that they are prepared and pre-positioned for these types of events. In the case of this EAP, health kits and livelihood protection (tarps and tools) kits were distributed to 142 families from the Laime Capulispungo community and 317 families from the Laime San Carlos community, and debit cards were delivered to 378 families in the communities of Laime Capulispungo and Totorillas, in Chimborazo.

“The Red Cross has had a caring heart, is a great help for this disaster that we are experiencing, this help will be of great use to us”, says Armando Daiquelema, resident of the Totorillas community.

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