Americas: Humanitarian needs grow with “overwhelming” movement of people

Panama/Geneva, 10 September 2018 – The largest movement of people across the Americas in recent years is causing growing humanitarian needs across the region, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) said today.

According to the United Nations, around 2.3 million people are believed to be on the move. The situation is especially increasing in Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Venezuela, Uruguay, Peru, Argentina, Chile, and several countries in the Caribbean.

Mr Walter Cotte, IFRC Regional Director for the Americas, said: “America is a continent of migrants, but the volume of people on the move at this time is overwhelming – and so are the humanitarian needs.

“We are especially concerned about emerging health needs among migrants and host communities, including the emergence of life-threatening diseases such as measles, diphtheria, malaria and tuberculosis, among others. It is imperative that people have access to basic health care, clean water and sanitation.”

In addition to concerns over disease outbreaks, Red Cross volunteers and staff are also warning that people who have non-communicable diseases such as diabetes and hypertension are especially vulnerable due to the long delay in getting proper treatment. It is also important to consider actions to promote social inclusion, to enhance mutual awareness and understanding between migrant and transit and host communities.

IFRC has launched a 7.4 million Swiss franc regional appeal to bolster the Red Cross response. In addition to health services, the appeal is also seeking funds for efforts to strengthen social cohesion, and to respond to needs created within host communities.

Mr Cotte said: “The fast rise in the number of migrants has put a lot of pressure on the region’s public health systems and on the social dynamics of host countries.

“Our regional appeal and the assistance we provide will focus on the dignified and safe treatment of people across the migratory cycle. The human rights of migrants – particularly children, women, and people affected by human trafficking – must be protected and promoted.”

IFRC and National Red Cross Societies are working closely with Governments, national and international humanitarian actors and other partners, including from the private sector.

In July 2018, IFRC launched a revised 4.8 million Swiss franc Emergency Appeal on behalf of the Colombia Red Cross, to support 120,000 of the most vulnerable people on the move over a 12-month period.