International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies – Annual Report 2015

Operational report: a year of international response

The Nepal earthquake

After losing everything in the earthquake that struck Nepal in April 2015, Januka Tamang was forced to live in an iron shed with her six-year-old daughter and 12-year-old son. Fortunately, Tamang was able to buy supplies with money provided through an IFRC- supported cash transfer distribution in her remote village. In 2015, the Nepal Red Cross Society provided unconditional grants of 15,000 Nepali rupees (110 Swiss francs) to 40,000 households, allowing families to choose for themselves how best to invest in their recovery, while boosting the local economy.

Following the Government of Nepal’s declaration of a state of emergency, the IFRC immediately released 500,000 Swiss francs from its Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF), deployed its global disaster response teams, and launched an Emergency Appeal, that as of August 2016, sought 89.4 million Swiss francs to support 700,000 people

On 12 May, a strong aftershock measuring 7.3 magnitude on the Richter scale caused more deaths, injuries and destruction. As of 14 May 2015, the Nepal Red Cross Society operation mobilized 7,000 volunteers and reached 42,600 families (213,000 people) with relief, emergency shelter, and medical assistance. The response operation was supported by the IFRC, International Committee of the Red Cross (the ICRC), and 25 National Societies.

Ninety per cent of homes were damaged, leaving many people in provisional shelters as 2015 drew to a close. IFRC efforts focused on transitional shelter during the emergency phases and providing training for local people to “build back safer” using earthquake-resistant methods. The IFRC completed its role as manager of the inter-agency Shelter Cluster during the emergency phase on 31 December 2015, with the Government of Nepal taking the lead on the reconstruction.

By the end of 2015, the Nepal Red Cross Society distributed food to 2.8 million people from 14 districts, in partnership with the IFRC, National Societies and other organizations.

Ebola virus disease

The IFRC, National Societies, governments and partner organizations began 2015 with a collective call to work together to stop Ebola. The IFRC’s Ebola response focused on supporting National Society staff and volunteers’ efforts to stop transmission through unsafe burial practices; addressing fear, stigma and discrimination; and strengthening community health systems. As emphasized by Secretary General, Elhadj As Sy, “Ebola came to Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea and found us there. It found three National Societies already on the ground. It found 20,000 Red Cross volunteers…”

During the final week of 2015, the West African nation of Guinea was declared free of Ebola transmission, 42 days after the last Ebola patient tested negative for a second time. Liberia and Sierra Leone were declared Ebola-free in September and November 2015, respectively. While isolated cases, or clusters of cases, have appeared since, the outbreak is considered to have abated due to control measures now in place in the affected countries. The decline in cases of Ebola, a disease that had claimed more than 11,000 lives, was a result of the collaboration between governments and humanitarian organizations involved in this complex and challenging international response.

The IFRC and its member National Societies played a critical role in that success. By August 2015, more  than 400 international staff had been deployed and more than 10,000 volunteers and staff with the Red Cross Society of Guinea, Liberia National Red Cross Society and the Sierra Leone Red Cross Society had been trained specifically to respond to Ebola. By the beginning of August 2015, Red Cross staff and volunteers had reached seven million people through social mobilization and beneficiary communication programmes. They also helped to safely bury nearly 35,000 bodies, transport more than 1,300 people to Red Cross Ebola treatment centres, treat nearly 600 Ebola cases, and provide psychosocial support to 339,000 people, as well as tracing and monitoring more than 97,000 people thought to have had contact with infected people.

Concerted local and international response can be effective and save thousands of lives. The IFRC’s response will continue beyond the end of the outbreak. The critical task is to help build better health monitoring and response systems, particularly in countries that have only recently emerged from conflict, have fragile public health systems and where community distrust – of institutions and agencies – has hampered public health campaigns.

Syria and beyond

By the end of 2015, as the crisis in Syria neared the beginning of its fifth year, more than half of the country’s population had been forced to leave their homes: 6.5 million people were internally displaced and more than 4 million people were refugees. The total number of people in need of humanitarian assistance rose to approximately 13.5 million.

Most live in host communities and are affected by shifting front lines in the conflict, which also hinder a timely and effective humanitarian response. Despite this, the Syrian Arab Red Crescent, with support from Movement partners, managed to deliver medical supplies, food, water and hygiene kits to communities cut off from outside markets and humanitarian relief. First aid and health services at clinics and mobile health units also became available.

In addition to its Emergency Appeals, the IFRC also supported Syrian Arab Red Crescent health facilities, helped the National Society establish nutritional support centres, provided structured mental health services, and initiated activities for the prevention of gender-based violence. It also provided support in logistics, including warehouse management, the procurement of relief items and pharmaceuticals/nutritional supplements, the development and training of staff and volunteers in logistics management, and rehabilitation of critical infrastructure.

People on the move

As the number of migrants dying or facing extreme hardship continued to rise along migratory routes in Europe, the Americas, Africa and Southeast Asia, the IFRC scaled up its response. In Europe and elsewhere, the IFRC and National Societies offered a range of services along migratory routes including at seaports, coastlines, border crossings, and along roadsides and train tracks. Volunteers and staff offered basic health care, food, water, sanitation, hygiene products, provisional shelter, and help to contact relatives.

To provide immediate support to National Societies, the IFRC released funds from DREF and launched numerous Emergency Appeals for population movement across continents. In September 2015, a global campaign – Protect humanity. Stop indifference – was launched to foster solidarity and empathy for vulnerable migrants, and to call for their protection as a matter of collective responsibility.

Post-election violence in Burundi

As election-related violence flared up in Burundi in April, more than 200,000 people[1] fled to safety in neighbouring countries of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda.

The violence resulted in numerous casualties in the capital, Bujumbura. Additionally, the El Niño weather phenomenon in September caused heavy rains, winds, landslides, and floods in 15 out of 18 provinces, resulting in 80 reported deaths, the destruction of 4,112 houses and 15,265 hectares of cultivated fields, and damage to 154 schools and 50 bridges.

Fortunately, the Burundi Red Cross has volunteers based in communities throughout the country and had already developed an election contingency plan, which was implemented between January and April 2015. This preparation allowed the Burundi Red Cross to focus on rapid community-level assessments and to respond quickly to calls for aid through a national emergency hotline service. The National Society provided first aid, basic health services, food distribution and other essential items at several camps.

Central African Republic conflict

In late September 2015, renewed violence in Central African Republic’s capital, Bangui, and other parts of the country led to deaths, injuries, destruction of property, and looting. Throughout the crisis, the Central African Red Cross Society was often the only humanitarian agency able to operate inside the city because of its links with local communities. Brave volunteers were able to provide life-saving first aid in the streets, transporting the severely wounded to health facilities, and collecting the bodies of those killed in the fighting.

Some 400,000 people were internally displaced by the fighting, while a further 454,000 people fled to neighbouring countries. Supported by the IFRC, the ICRC and other partners, the Central African Red Cross Society responded with emergency health care, first aid, psychosocial support, water, hygiene and sanitation, food, and essential household items.

Additionally, April storms resulted in extensive flooding, destroying houses and damaging livelihoods for thousands of people in Berberati, 584 kilometres from Bangui. The IFRC released 99,788 Swiss francs from DREF to provide shelter, health and care to the affected population.

Throughout these crises, the Central African Red Cross Society’s volunteers and staff continued to provide life-saving malaria, tuberculosis and HIV prevention and treatment services across the country, including the distribution of most of the 2.1 million long-lasting insecticide-treated nets that now protect more than 60 per cent of the population from malaria.

South Sudan: a complex emergency

Despite a peace agreement reached in August 2015, violence continued to plague the population of this central African nation. An estimated 1.64 million people had been displaced within the country and a further 628,000 were living as refugees in neighbouring countries (Uganda, Ethiopia, Sudan and Kenya) by mid-2015.[2] In June, a cholera outbreak put additional pressure on the health infrastructure and the National Cholera Response Task Force, which reported that the number of cases exceeded the current capacity in the clinical treatment centres. The situation was exacerbated by the onset of the rainy season, affecting the sanitation in several camps for displaced people, which needed significant improvement to meet minimum humanitarian standards.

With support from IFRC Emergency Appeals, daily access to safe water was provided. The IFRC released 225,368 Swiss francs from DREF to support the South Sudan Red Cross in providing health and hygiene assistance to people affected by the cholera outbreak. The National Society reached nearly 39,000 families across seven communities in Juba county, far exceeding the original target of 10,000 families. In November, the Ministry of Health reported that the situation was under control and commended the South Sudan Red Cross for its efforts.

Excellence in our supply chain

Our logistics operations cut across our eight areas of focus, ensuring the organization’s success and enabling the IFRC and National Societies to implement their humanitarian work every day, with excellence.


The IFRC operates a number of logistics hubs around the world, including in Las Palmas and at the Global Humanitarian City in Dubai. Guided by its five-year stra- tegic plan, Logistics 2015, the IFRC Logistics Management department worked towards reinforcing and developing its global logistics capacity to ensure that IFRC and National Societies have access to efficient and effective logistics services for humanitarian assistance activities and to achieve the goals outlined in Strategy 2020. Logistics 2015 focused on three strategic objectives:

• Supporting the enhancement of National Society logistics capacity
• Increasing the IFRC’s logistics capacity to deliver logistics services for preparedness and operational activities
• Providing agreed logistics services to pre-selected external humanitarian agencies.

Strategic highlights

In 2015, the number of operations supported by Logistics Management doubled from the previous year, with the key focus of logistics response on Nepal, Syria and neighbouring countries, Ebola-affected countries (Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia), Iraq (Kurdistan), Vanuatu, Malawi, Malaysian floods, the Philippines recov- ery, Dominica tropical storm and Mediterranean migration operations (Greece, Italy, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Serbia, Hungary, Croatia and Slovenia).

To better address needs in Africa, additional stock was pre-positioned in Zimbabwe and Namibia. Expansion of stock building at country level continued in the Americas, with IFRC stocks pre-positioned with five National Societies by mid-2015.

The trend of growth in procurement observed since the start of 2014 continued to sustain higher levels. Compared to the 2012–2013 annual average, in 2014–2015 there was an average increase of 42 per cent in procurement value.

In 2015, vehicles travelled nearly eight million kilometres more than in 2014, most of the extra mileage having been covered by operations in Ebola-affected countries. Forty-five per cent of the vehicles are used in IFRC operations, and 55 per cent by National Societies.

Cooperation under the partnership with the Airbus Foundation continued, with support including a plane being mobilized by Airbus, free of charge, to move much- needed emergency supplies from the logistics hub in Las Palmas to Malawi in support of the floods operation. Airbus Helicopter Foundation also provided free helicopters to the IFRC to perform several assessments in emergency operations, including in Vanuatu and Dominica.

Logistics Management continued to apply the National Society Logistics Capacity Enhancement tool and process. By the end of 2015, 36 National Societies were en- gaged in the process globally.