How the International Committee of the Red Cross is fighting COVID-19 across the world

UEFA’s long-standing humanitarian partner, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), is active on a global scale in a concerted and determined response to the COVID-19 crisis. Here, we look at the broad range of work being undertaken by the humanitarian organisation as part of its crucial mission in these difficult times.

The ICRC is providing crucial supplies to fight COVID-19
The ICRC is providing crucial supplies to fight COVID-19 ©ICRC

“The coronavirus pandemic disease (COVID-19) is unprecedented in recent history and is spreading rapidly. It is not only a public health crisis, but also a humanitarian crisis in the making.” (ICRC statement)

A highly valued social responsibility partner of UEFA since 1997, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is working across the world in a variety of ways in response to the COVID-19 crisis – underlining its lasting commitment to saving lives by providing critical resources and giving help to millions of vulnerable people.

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Since its creation in 1863, the Geneva-based ICRC has helped people around the world affected by armed conflict and other violence, doing everything it can to protect their lives and dignity and to relieve their suffering.

UEFA and the ICRC

Learn more about the ICRC’s partnership with UEFA on page 200 of the 2018/19 UEFA Football and Social Responsibility Report

In 1997, the ICRC became UEFA's first charity partner, and UEFA became the ICRC's first sport association partner. The UEFA-ICRC partnership has dual objectives:

- providing physically disabled people with rehabilitation services

- improving access to social inclusion activities, including sport, for physically disabled people.

- UEFA has annually donated 100,000 Euros to the ICRC in association with its UEFA.com users’ Team of the Year

COVID-19 : The ICRC’s global response to the crisis

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The ICRC is currently carrying out a major realignment of its assistance activities – a measure brought about by the need to respond to the rapid spread of COVID-19 in recent times. On a variety of fronts, the organisation is adapting its existing work to the viral environment which now exists across the world.

The ICRC’s work is based on the premise that while COVID-19 is already a global pandemic, it is still possible to reduce its spread and the number of lives lost by improving access to critical resources.

Here are some of the ICRC’s crucial current activities

1) ICRC COVID-19 action in areas of conflict

ICRC VIDEO: COVID-19 IN WAR-TORN COUNTRIES

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“In war-torn countries, COVID-19 represents a dramatic threat to life,” the ICRC says. “Health systems have already been ravaged by violence, and the threat of further strain on health care from the coronavirus is an enormous risk for communities. Plans to prevent and respond to the virus must urgently move forward before it gains a foothold in countries in conflict.”

The ICRC's unique value in many countries is its access to areas of conflict that other organisations may not have – thereby enabling the organisation to assist in responding to an outbreak in war-torn areas. Support to hospitals in conflict zones includes donating supplies and equipment, financial support and staff training. The ICRC also supports infrastructure works to expand hospital capacity; ensure a stable water supply and proper waste management; and improve overall medical service delivery.

The ICRC is concentrating its efforts on continuing and increasing its support to public health services in contexts affected by armed conflict and violence. An emergency plan aims to ensure continuity in the most critical hospitals around the globe.

2) Strengthening practices in detention centres

In many places of detention around the world, the ICRC works together with relevant authorities to reinforce standard practices such as medical screening of new arrivals and establishing prevention measures – such as hand-washing stations – for detainees, visitors, guards and delivery personnel.

The ICRC also supports disinfection measures such as fumigation campaigns, and distributes soap and other hygiene and cleaning materials to detainees.

3) Gathering government and international community support

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ICRC president Peter Maurer:
“Today, helping those least able to defend themselves from disease is a moral and political imperative, even – or especially – during the crippling societal and economic effects of a global health crisis. We can and must reduce the suffering this disease will cause those least able to cope. I’m urging governments and humanitarian groups like mine to do as much as they can to help these most vulnerable people.”

"The international community must increase support now… Viruses know no borders; this is a global problem that will only be solved by global action."

4) ICRC/IFRC emergency appeal

In March, the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement launched a revised emergency appeal for 800m Swiss francs (758.7m Euros) to help the world's most vulnerable communities halt the spread of COVID-19 and recover from the pandemic’s impact.

©ICRC

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) appealed for 550m Swiss francs (521.6m Euros) to support National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies in the following areas:

- health care

- prepositioning of goods

- risk communication

- cash grants for families

- mitigating impacts of large outbreaks)

The ICRC appealed for 250m Swiss francs (237.1m Euros) in the following areas:

- response in places of conflict and violence

- support of medical facilities and places of detention

- curbing the spread among and ensure medical access for displaced people and detainees

- support of National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies in their response.

5) Where the ICRC is active worldwide

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From Afghanistan to El Salvador; from Lebanon to Mexico. Recent focal points of the ICRC’s global work and activities in various countries in response to the COVID-19 outbreak can be found here

Committed to saving lives…

“The ICRC with our movement partners can make the difference in specific areas,” the ICRC emphasises. “The humanitarian aid we provide on the frontlines is essential to saving lives during this crisis….”