Panama/Geneva, 31 August 2018 – Help, respect and compassion are needed in response to the massive and continuous movement of people across Venezuela and several other countries in the Americas, the President of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) said today.

It is estimated that between 1.6 million and 4 million people are currently on the move in search of relief from instability or insecurity in their home countries.

Mr Francesco Rocca, President of IFRC, said: “It´s been a long time since the Americas has seen such a large movement of people, and the situation is affecting several countries in the region. This will become a very serious crisis if they are met with hostility and exclusion, instead of the help, respect and compassion that all vulnerable people need, no matter who they are or where they are from.”

IFRC is increasingly concerned about the safety of older migrants, women and children on the move across the Americas region and has carried out a detailed assessment of the situation in Brazil, Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana, Ecuador and Peru. The risk of diseases such as measles, diphtheria and tuberculosis is high, and IFRC is increasing the support given to National Red Cross Societies working to meet the growing humanitarian needs.

Mr Rocca said: “Our Red Cross volunteers and staff are reporting high numbers of people on the road with serious medical needs that require urgent attention.

“People have many reasons for crossing a border, but all human beings deserve to be treated with dignity and they must be able to access basic health services on their journeys. Lives are at stake, and our humanity must be allowed to extend across borders.”

National Red Cross Societies are working together closely to support the most vulnerable people on the move across the region and the host communities they pass through, with a focus on health care, psychosocial support, water and hygiene, shelter, food, protection and the development of livelihood strategies. IFRC is supporting the regional Red Cross network and coordinating with other agencies that are responding to the growing crisis.

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Media contacts

In Panama: Diana Medina, +507 6780-5395, diana.medina@ifrc.org

In Geneva:  Alison Freebairn, +41 79 251 9333, alison.freebairn@ifrc.org

To arrange interviews with IFRC President Francesco Rocca, please contact:

In Geneva: Tommaso Della Longo, +41 79 708 4367, tommaso.dellalonga@ifrc.org

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