International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies https://media.ifrc.org/ifrc The website of the international Red Cross Red Crescent Movement Fri, 16 Aug 2019 14:35:13 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.10 Marmara earthquake: 20 years on https://media.ifrc.org/ifrc/2019/08/16/marmara-earthquake-20-years/ Fri, 16 Aug 2019 14:35:13 +0000 https://media.ifrc.org/ifrc/?p=55781 On Saturday 17 August, Turkey marks the anniversary of the 7.4-magnitude quake that hit Izmit—around 100 kilometres east of Istanbul— killing 17,479 people, including 1,000 in Istanbul, the economic capital of the country. The quake hit at 3:02 am on 17 August 1999, killing thousands as they slept. In Istanbul, several hundred people were killed […]

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On Saturday 17 August, Turkey marks the anniversary of the 7.4-magnitude quake that hit Izmit—around 100 kilometres east of Istanbul— killing 17,479 people, including 1,000 in Istanbul, the economic capital of the country.

The quake hit at 3:02 am on 17 August 1999, killing thousands as they slept. In Istanbul, several hundred people were killed when buildings collapsed. Since then, fears remain high with constant warnings from scientists that Istanbul, Turkey’s most populated city and economic hub, will be at the epicenter of the next “big one”.

Turkey is among the world’s most seismically active countries as it is situated on a number of active fault lines. Every day, there are approximately 100  minor earthquakes and aftershocks. In the last big earthquake in October 2011, more than 600 people died in the eastern province of Van after 7.2 magnitude quake.

20 years after the Marmara disaster, Turkey has seen an overhaul in measures to prevent damage from earthquakes, such as compulsory earthquake insurance and campaigns to raise awareness and inform the public about earthquake preparedness.

The Turkish Red Crescent (Türk Kızılay) has played a pioneering role by reconstructing the disaster management model from top to bottom.  A more effective, sustainable, applicable disaster management model was developed. Disaster preparedness, response, recovery and reconstruction activities were redesigned. Today, Kızılay has the capacity to meet the urgent housing needs of 271,485 people in a possible disaster with its ten regional and 23 local Disaster Management Centers.

Türk Kızılay is also stepping up its efforts to build a resilient society through a community-based disaster management model and to make disaster preparedness a lifestyle for every citizen. The Safe Living Culture which is being developed in tandem with the Ministry of National Education aims to raise awareness, provide knowledge and skills and ensure active participation in disaster response processes.

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Genoa bridge collapse: one year on https://media.ifrc.org/ifrc/2019/08/14/genoa-bridge-collapse-one-year/ Wed, 14 Aug 2019 13:51:58 +0000 https://media.ifrc.org/ifrc/?p=55693 On 14 August 2018, a 200-metre section of Ponte Morandi in Genoa, Italy, collapsed. Vehicles plunged 90 metres onto railway tracks, and buildings below, killing 43 people and injuring 29. Together with the military and state authorities, Italian Red Cross search and rescue teams searched for survivors for 26 hours. Altogether 500 Italian Red Cross volunteers took part in the operation that lasted for 35 days.

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By Nora Peter, IFRC

This time last year Paola Vicini was keeping vigil at the base of the collapsed Ponte Morandi in Genoa, anxiously waiting for any news of her missing son, Mirko. For five long days, she did not budge from the site, sleeping in a campervan provided by the Italian Red Cross, and being supported by its volunteers.

“Mirko was working at a company close to the bridge. As soon as I heard about the disaster, I rushed to the red zone. Even though I knew it was impossible for him to survive under that debris, I did not give up hope,” she remembers.

During those days of uncertainty and anguish, Paola was supported by Federica, an Italian Red Cross volunteer, and the two of them formed a strong bond. Federica was holding Paola’s hand when Mirko’s body was retrieved from under the ruins.

“I don’t remember much from those days, but I can still recall Federica’s smile. She was my fortress.”

On 14 August 2018, a 200-metre section of the four-lane bridge in Genoa, Italy, collapsed. Vehicles plunged 90 metres onto railway tracks, and buildings below, killing 43 people and injuring 29. 600 people have been displaced.

Together with the military and state authorities, Italian Red Cross search and rescue teams searched for survivors for 26 hours. Two Red Cross nurses helped identify bodies at the Genoa morgue, while 15 other volunteers provided psychosocial support to the families of the victims. Altogether 500 Italian Red Cross volunteers took part in the operation that lasted for 35 days.

Antonio Cecala was another who was helped by the Red Cross volunteers.

“My brother and his family had left for a holiday. When I heard the news about the accident, I tried to call him, but he wouldn’t answer his phone. I got anxious and started making calls to the police and the local hospitals, but nobody had any information. So, I decided to go to Genoa to find out what happened to them,” remembers Antonio.

Amid the chaos, he found support and comfort among the Red Cross volunteers who helped him in the search for his missing relatives. Days later his brother’s car was found under the ruins.

Antonio was so moved by the work of the volunteers that he decided to become one of them. “Since the Red Cross gave me so much, I wanted to give something back to those in need,” he explains.

A video tribute to the rescuers and volunteers, “Ponte Morandi: a year on” can be viewed here.

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In Pictures: Wading through waist-deep floodwaters to reach communities in India https://media.ifrc.org/ifrc/2019/08/13/pictures-wading-floods-debris-reach-communities-india/ Tue, 13 Aug 2019 08:47:11 +0000 https://media.ifrc.org/ifrc/?p=55611 Extremely heavy rains in mid-July caused severe flooding in the Indian states of Assam and Bihar. The floods affected more than 14 million people, displaced over a million and destroyed a vast amount of farmland. Whole houses were submerged and entire villages were cut off.

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Story by Caroline Haga, IFRC

Photos by Caroline Haga and Indian Red Cross Society

Extremely heavy rains in mid-July caused severe flooding in the Indian states of Assam and Bihar. The floods affected more than 14 million people, displaced over a million and destroyed a vast amount of farmland. Whole houses were submerged and entire villages were cut off.

Indian Red Cross Society volunteers have supported communities in both states since the flooding began, warning people about the incoming floods, moving families to safety and providing first aid.

Red Cross teams have distributed food, clean water, medication, hygiene kits and shelter items.

The district of Morigaon in Assam experienced the worst floods in 15 years. This used to be 33-year-old Muftafizur Rashul’s and his family’s home. Now they’ve lost everything. “Floods washed over the family home where I had lived for 20 years,” he says sadly as he surveys the submerged land. He is grateful that his family managed to get away from the rising floodwaters in time, but now they face the daunting task of rebuilding their lives.

 

 

In Bihar, 80-year old Sita Ram Yadav and his wife Shyama Devi also lost almost everything.

“The floods just came in a rush and suddenly we had water up to our waist or higher,” Shyama Devi says with tears in her eyes.

“Floodwaters destroyed our rice paddies and washed away the rice, wheat and grains we had stored,” Sita Ram Yadav says. “We also lost five goats and four cows.”

Devastated by their losses, including many personal belongings and even their pots and pans, the family is struggling to rebuild.

To make matters worse, they have encountered snakes including cobras both inside and outside, forcing them to be extra careful as they work to fix what they can.

Still, the couple is trying to stay positive that they will be able to repair their home and regrow their vital crops.

 

 

In flood emergencies and other disasters disease outbreaks are always a threat. In Assam and Bihar, people are forced to live in unsanitary conditions among flood waters in water-damaged houses or makeshift shelters, often without proper protection from mosquitoes that transmit rapidly spreading diseases such as dengue.

Indian Red Cross volunteers are in the communities raising awareness about health risks and good hygiene practices to help prevent disease outbreaks. In some districts Red Cross teams also provide free-of-charge medical care and check-ups as well as medicines to families.

In both states, Indian Red Cross branches continue to support families to rebuild their lives. Family packs are being packed and distributed to those worst affected – families such as Rashul’s and Yadav’s who have lost their entire homes and livelihoods. The family packs include tarpaulins, blankets, kitchen sets, clothing, bed sheets and buckets.

Dibya Jyoti Deka, 22, is leading the team of volunteers. They are compiling the packs in Assam in the sweltering heat for days on end.

“It’s tough work, but I enjoy it,” he says with a smile. “This is the way that I want to serve humanity.”

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Typhoon Lekima: Millions affected across six Chinese provinces https://media.ifrc.org/ifrc/2019/08/12/typhoon-lekima-millions-affected-across-six-chinese-provinces/ Mon, 12 Aug 2019 11:35:17 +0000 https://media.ifrc.org/ifrc/?p=55600 Volunteers and staff from the Red Cross Society of China are supporting communities in the aftermath of Typhoon Lekima, which has now affected more than 6.51 million people in the provinces of Zhejiang, Shanghai, Jiangsu, Anhui, Shandong and Fujian. The typhoon brought torrential rain and heavy winds that knocked out electricity, caused flooding and landslides. […]

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Volunteers and staff from the Red Cross Society of China are supporting communities in the aftermath of Typhoon Lekima, which has now affected more than 6.51 million people in the provinces of Zhejiang, Shanghai, Jiangsu, Anhui, Shandong and Fujian.

The typhoon brought torrential rain and heavy winds that knocked out electricity, caused flooding and landslides. As of 11 August, more than 1.45 million people were relocated to safer areas, 3,500 houses have collapsed, and a further 35,000 have been damaged. Some 265,500 hectares of crops have been affected by the disaster.

Before Lekima hit, the Red Cross went door-to-door passing on official warnings to help people stay safe. More than 1,100 volunteers were deployed to help deliver thousands of raincoats, bedding and other emergency supplies to people in need.

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Typhoon Lekima heads for China after hitting the Philippines https://media.ifrc.org/ifrc/2019/08/09/typhoon-lekima-heads-china-hitting-philippines/ Fri, 09 Aug 2019 14:57:03 +0000 https://media.ifrc.org/ifrc/?p=55591 Volunteers and staff of the Red Cross Society of China are helping communities get ready for the arrival of Typhoon Lekima, a Category 3 hurricane that has already damaged many communities in the Philippines. The typhoon is currently located in the North West Pacific Ocean and has maximum sustained winds of 194 km/h, and wind […]

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Volunteers and staff of the Red Cross Society of China are helping communities get ready for the arrival of Typhoon Lekima, a Category 3 hurricane that has already damaged many communities in the Philippines.

The typhoon is currently located in the North West Pacific Ocean and has maximum sustained winds of 194 km/h, and wind gusts up to 241 km/h. It is expected to make landfall near Zhejiang (Eastern China). A red alert has been issued andfFlood warnings are in place for eastern sections of the Yangtze River and the Yellow River until 14 August. The provinces of Jiangsu and Shandong are also on alert.

The Red Cross Society of China’s Zhejiang Branch issued an early warning of yesterday and has provided the public with information on basic measures to prepare for the typhoon. The Red Cross is monitoring the situation.

The storm affected more than 17,000 households in the Philippines and caused flooding in more than 400 areas of the country. Philippine Red Cross volunteers distributed 1,200 hot meals to people in Ilolio, Zamabales and Davao; distributed hygiene kits to 16 families in Paranaque, and mobilised its volunteers to support welfare desks at evacuation centres in Guimaras, Zambales and Davao.

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Women are the agents of change for climate change in southern Africa https://media.ifrc.org/ifrc/2019/08/09/women-agents-change-climate-change-southern-africa/ Fri, 09 Aug 2019 11:40:04 +0000 https://media.ifrc.org/ifrc/?p=55490 Today South Africa marks Women’s Day. Much like the women being commemorated for the march to the Union Buildings on 9 August 1956, women in southern Africa today may well hold the same flint that lights a “new movement” – climate change. Southern Africa is one of the regions projected to experience the most serious consequences of global warning and the El Niño effect. In 2019, we experienced one of the worst disasters the region has ever seen - Cyclone Idai ravaged communities in Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe and continue to rebuild their lives.

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By: Dr Michael Charles

Today South Africa marks Women’s Day.  Much like the women being commemorated for the march to the Union Buildings on 9 August 1956, women in southern Africa today may well hold the same flint that lights a “new movement” – climate change.

Southern Africa is one of the regions projected to experience the most serious consequences of global warming and the El Niño effect. In 2019, we experienced one of the worst disasters the region has ever seen – Cyclone Idai ravaged communities in Mozambique, Malawi, and Zimbabwe and continue to rebuild their lives.

Urgent action is needed to increase the region’s preparedness for natural disasters. It is only a matter of time until the next disaster strikes. Being female often automatically means that personal susceptibility to sexual and domestic violence, rape and assault in emergency situations is significantly heightened. Women experience additional difficulties because they are typically responsible for sourcing water and preparing food; caring for children, the injured, sick and elderly; and maintaining family and community cohesion.

Tackling climate change is, undoubtedly, women’s business. They have a vested interest in avoiding and mitigating the impacts of climate change. It is time that humanitarian actors and policy and decision-makers mainstream gender in policy and practice. It is not a “nice to do”; it is crucial to making real and sustainable differences in the lives of affected people.

In 1956, 200,000 South African women declared that enough was enough and acted to defend themselves and the unity and integrity of their families from restrictive laws that required them to carry a pass to reside and move freely in urban areas.

Wathint’Abafazi Wathint’imbokodo! Now you have touched the women, you have struck a rock! was the rallying cry of that day, used to signify the women’s unshakeable and unbreakable resolve in the face of adversity as they marched to the Union Building in Pretoria, and sparked change in the course of South Africa’s history.

As countries in southern Africa ramp up their disaster risk management and humanitarian organisations work to strengthen community recovery and resilience, women in southern Africa should not just be considered victims and survivors who need special protection and assistance. They are forces for change who can be relied on to represent themselves within their communities and at the highest decision-making levels.

Photo: Sonia and other Red Cross volunteers speak to Dr. Michael Charles in Beira, Mozambique

I am always inspired by the women I meet responding in disasters, most recently in Cyclone Idai. Women like, Sonia, a volunteer who was working long hours to support women in a shelter, displaced by Cyclone Idai or Flora, who was affected herself by flooding but was dedicated to helping her neighbours rebuild their homes and their lives.

Happy Women’s Day, South Africa. May the flame that was lit in 1956 and the fire of women’s empowerment and participation that was built over the decades rage on.

Dr Michael Charles is the Head of the Southern Africa Cluster of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.

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“We share our platform so people can speak for themselves and be heard” – British Red Cross amplifies refugee voices https://media.ifrc.org/ifrc/2019/08/06/share-platform-people-can-speak-heard-british-red-cross-amplifies-refugee-voices/ Tue, 06 Aug 2019 12:40:26 +0000 https://media.ifrc.org/ifrc/?p=55362 The VOICES Network, supported by the British Red Cross, is a nationwide association of people with refugee backgrounds providing a platform on which to share the challenges they face, and raise those issues to decision makers.

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By Mark Richard South, IFRC

Stepping aside and letting others lead might sound a surprising move for a National Society seeking to increase its influence on issues affecting refugees but sharing power and enabling participation is key to a groundbreaking new approach from the British Red Cross.

The VOICES Network, supported by the British Red Cross, is a nationwide association of people with refugee backgrounds providing a platform on which to share the challenges they face and raise those issues to decision-makers.

“There are many people out there who don’t know how to channel their grievances when they think that there should be a change in asylum policy. I am trained to know how and where to meet people who can make this change happen,” explains Godwin, a refugee from Nigeria and a member of the VOICES Network.

For VOICES Ambassadors like Godwin, sharing their experiences with the public has the potential to change minds, engaging with the media can help shape public opinion, and advocating with policymakers can secure changes to government policy.

And by coordinating and focusing on a few select priority areas – the right to work, access to education, effective asylum process, detention, housing and family reunion – the ambassadors increase their chance of having an impact.

The Voices Network also plays a crucial role for the British Red Cross when it devises programmes to support refugees and asylum seekers in the UK, with the insights and experiences of Network members proving an invaluable resource to draw from.

“Policies and services are too often designed and implemented without consulting the people they are supposed to help. Solutions designed to enhance integration rarely recognise or build on the diverse skills, experiences and qualifications refugees already have,” says Fiona Harvey, Project Manager at the British Red Cross.

“The VOICES Ambassadors have been, and are, on the receiving end of asylum policy – you couldn’t find better qualified experts on the asylum process. Sometimes even the smallest change to legislation or its implementation can have a huge impact on people’s lives, and that is why recognizing the value of people’s lived experience is so important,” she adds.

As part of its supporting role, the British Red Cross has been providing training for VOICES Ambassadors – covering how to engage with media on various levels, and how to plan and deliver advocacy – and is finding that the training is having knock-on effects in other aspects of participants’ lives.

Anna, a refugee living in Glasgow has found taking part in the VOICES Network key to overcoming her shyness.

“I have gained so much from the VOICES Network. Before I was so shy and today, I can stand in front of any audience and tell them about the issues that we face,” she says.

Zain from Leicester found the Network a great place to connect with people who have had similar experiences.

“Being involved in the VOICES Network has made me feel that I am not alone, that there are others who are in the same situation as me. This a great platform for marginalised groups such as migrants like me to have a voice as it empowers us to break through the obstacles and barriers we face,” he says.

The VOICES Network is also supported through the AVAIL (Amplifying the Voices of Asylum seekers and refugees for Integration and Life skills) project and is part of a broader initiative involving Red Cross societies in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Italy and Latvia, funded by the European Union.

For more information, visit: https://thevoicesnetwork.home.blog/

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IFRC pays tribute to former Vice President https://media.ifrc.org/ifrc/2019/08/03/ifrc-pays-tribute-former-vice-president/ Sat, 03 Aug 2019 13:05:46 +0000 https://media.ifrc.org/ifrc/?p=55349 The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies is mourning the loss of its friend and former Vice President, Annemarie Huber-Hotz.

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The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies is mourning the loss of its friend and former Vice President, Annemarie Huber-Hotz.

Mrs Huber-Hotz was the first female president of the Swiss Red Cross and served as Vice President  of the IFRC between 2011 and 2019.  She was a passionate humanitarian and an inspiring leader whose commitment and vision helped strengthen the IFRC.

IFRC President, Francesco Rocca, said: “On the behalf of the IFRC, I want to express our condolences to Annemarie Huber-Hotz family and friends and Swiss Red Cross volunteers and staff.

“She embodied our principles and working with her on our Governing Board was an honour and a privilege.  She will be hugely missed.”

Mrs Huber-Hotz worked tirelessly in support of vulnerable people, with the welfare of older people and those fleeing violence and persecution particularly close to her heart.  She represented the IFRC at the highest level of governance with professionalism and conviction.

IFRC Secretary General, Elhadj As Sy said: “Annemarie Huber-Hotz was a formidable Red Cross leader and a model of commitment and integrity who inspired so many of us. My thoughts are with her family, friends and Swiss Red Cross colleagues.”

Mrs Huber-Hotz stepped down as Swiss Red Cross President and IFRC Vice President in June. She died on 1 August, surrounded by her family.

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Luimer Guerrero has taken his music from Venezuela to Colombia https://media.ifrc.org/ifrc/2019/07/29/luimer-guerrero-taken-music-venezuela-colombia/ Mon, 29 Jul 2019 21:40:49 +0000 https://media.ifrc.org/ifrc/?p=55258 Luimer undertook his journey full of dreams and expectations with the conviction that he would have new opportunities to reemerge in a country he did not completely know.

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Luimer Guerrero arrived to Bucaramanga, Colombia, over a year ago with his two children, his wife and his mother-in-law on a bus that they took with the help of their religious congregation in Venezuela. Luimer undertook his journey full of dreams and expectations with the conviction that he would have new opportunities to reemerge in a country he did not completely know. And as if it was a sign, the first place they approached was the Center for Solidary Attention and Support (CASA by its acronym in Spanish) of the Colombian Red Cross. There they received information that would be among the most important for him and his family, the explanation on how to obtain the Special Permit of Permanence (PEP), a document that the Colombian Government gives to Venezuelan migrants. For Luimer, that was his first contact with a group of people he now considers a family and an “impressive” organization, the Colombian Red Cross.

After this, there were other opportunities; the Colombian Red Cross arrived with medicine and organized health days in the place where Luimer was living together with dozens of people. On another occasion, Luimer says that in the middle of a dental emergency, and without knowing exactly where to go, they approached the humanitarian institution and paid attention to them. “They helped us get to the nearest place where we could get help; I can say that whenever we ask for help we find a helping hand for myself and my family. ”

Music, a blessing of life

Today, this Venezuelan migrant is a music teacher thanks to the Red Cross staff who encouraged him to teach and to the people who met him and recommended him with his friends. He has 25 students among children, adults and groups of young people who are taught an art that makes their hearts happy and it is also the work that allows him to support his family.

Bucaramanga (Santander) has been for Guerrero a space in which he has been able to learn from Colombian culture and at the same time has been an opportunity to be an ambassador of the Venezuelan chords with which he grew up. Music has been and will remain a seal throughout his life.

Guerrero insists that to get ahead in Colombia and anywhere in the world you need to have an entrepreneurial mind. For this reason he has formed his StaffGL music academy, and thanks to his entrepreneurship he has been on several stages, one of them the Casa del Libro in Bucaramanga (Santander). His wife, meanwhile, is also working on an espresso coffee initiative. Luimer is hopeful and ensures that with effort and dedication he will keep moving forward.

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Children listening to the world with their eyes https://media.ifrc.org/ifrc/2019/07/29/children-listening-world-eyes/ Mon, 29 Jul 2019 14:20:15 +0000 https://media.ifrc.org/ifrc/?p=55230 By Ece Ceren Dogar, IFRC “The world is beautiful!” says Muhsine to Abdullah, her friend from Syria whom she calls her little brother. The two are deep in concentration, covering their paper with green and blue paint. Later, they have more fun painting ceramics, showing off their drama skills and taking part in a music […]

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By Ece Ceren Dogar, IFRC

“The world is beautiful!” says Muhsine to Abdullah, her friend from Syria whom she calls her little brother. The two are deep in concentration, covering their paper with green and blue paint.

Later, they have more fun painting ceramics, showing off their drama skills and taking part in a music lesson with a difference – listening to the rhythms not with their ears, but with their eyes.

Muhsine, who is Turkish, and Abdullah, who is Syrian, are both hearing impaired. They are just two of 10 children who had the opportunity to attend a four-week “We listen to the world with our eyes” workshop.

Organised by Turkish Red Crescent’s EU-funded Şanlıurfa Community Centre and Şanlıurfa School of the Deaf, the workshop aimed to contribute to the personal and social development of the children and to ensure social cohesion by providing an environment that brings different cultures together.

Community Centre Cohesion and Activity Officer Gülşen Gürgerli Şimşek says the change in Abdullah, who arrived from Syria two years ago, is remarkable.

“We encountered Abdullah, who is both a migrant and hearing impaired, in one of our field visits. He lives in a crowded house of 25 people and had no opportunity to improve his personal and social development.”

“The first week he was timid but after that, he was just running to and fro and smiling all the time. This was a priceless outcome for us,” smiles Mrs Simsek.

There are more than 3.6 million Syrians in Turkey who are under temporary protection, of whom more than 1.7 million are children. An unknown percentage of these children suffer from hearing loss, which can exacerbate challenges adjusting to their host country.

Mrs Simsek says activities such as this workshop, and other social cohesion initiatives involving both migrants and host communities help to provide an environment which is supportive for overcoming difficulties.

Turkish Red Crescent Community Centres

Since 2015, Turkish Red Crescent Community Centres have been offering various services such as psychosocial support, protection, livelihoods support and social cohesion for migrants and host communities, with the aim of enabling a safer, more dignified and hopeful life. By the beginning of July 2019, the Community Centres had helped almost 800,000 people. For more information, please visit http://www.kizilaytoplummerkezleri.org/en

 

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