Opening Ceremony - Getting prepared to guarantee that no one is left behind
To increase readiness for hurricane preparedness throughout the region and to ensure that National Societies and IFRC will have an updated contingency plan that addresses COVID-19 considerations and builds on lessons learned during the past year. Those are the two main objectives of the 2021 Red Cross Pre-Hurricane Conference, highlighted IFRC’s Regional Director for the Americas, Martha Keays.
Mrs. Keays warned about the risk that hurricane preparedness and response will be neglected and overshadowed by the COVID-19 response operations and called to stay vigilant and prepare, promote the use of science-based decision-making processes that have the potential to multiply the positive effects of preparedness actions and therefore increase capacity to respond by making resources readily available and strategically placed.
IFRC’s Under Secretary General for National Society Development and Operations Coordination, Xavier Castellanos, remarked that investing in early warning and early action systems is key, as well as ensuring that laws and institutions are prepared to manage new climate risks in an integrated way, as climate risks will continue to overlap with other major crises.
Both Keays and Castellanos stressed that preparation and coordination can save lives and that as a humanitarian organization IFRC will continue to work so that no one is left behind in a region where large disasters are becoming more frequent as a result of climate change.
In the Americas, the IFRC will continue to support National Societies by continuously monitoring weather and climate-related events, developing contingency, preparedness and response plans, allocating Disaster Relief Emergency Funds, strengthening humanitarian advocacy, promoting disaster risk reduction initiatives, and contributing to extend national and local capacities to stem the spread and to protect people and communities from the impacts of COVID-19.
The IFRC is the largest humanitarian network in the world and, in collaboration with the national societies of the Red Cross and Red Crescent, coordinates with governments, communities and international agencies the response to the needs of people affected by crises and disasters. In the Americas, there are over 800,000 volunteers, with hundreds of them trained as national teams of intervention, rapid response, assessment of damage and analysis of needs.