Liberia: Red Cross Humanitarian Aid Depleted

-Seeks partners' help to combat COVID - 19

Liberia National Red Cross Society (LNRCS) president Mr. Jerome Clark alarms here that the institution is extremely challenged, saying request for food, non-food items and other IPC materials currently on LNRCS' desks are ten times more than it can afford at the moment because of the depletion of its stocks.

Launching LNRCS' coronavirus (COVID-19) response activities beginning with Montserrado and Margibi Counties Monday, 6 April in Monrovia, Mr. Clark said LNRCS is over stretched because its donors including countries that always provide support are also overwhelmed with this global pandemic, thereby limiting the institution's support for this response.

"The request for food, non-food items and other IPC materials currently on our desks are ten times more than we can afford at the moment because of the depletion of our stocks," he said at the Red Cross office down Lynch Street Monday.

According to him, LNRCS has made several interventions ranging from the distributions of hand washing buckets, dignity kits and other IPC materials aimed at promoting best hygiene practices here.

"Why our priorities are on community health and care, risk communication and community engagement for awareness raising and hygiene promotion, we strongly [believe] that there are other critical areas- including food and Psychosocial support for suspected and confirmed cases- need urgent attention.

He expresses appreciation to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the International Federation of Red Cross (IFRC) who have given an initial amount more than US$35,000.00 to support risk communication activities in both Montserrado and Margibi.

He explains that the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic has also made other existing humanitarian needs in the country more acute and further making the delivery of humanitarian aid even more critical and urgent.

He calls for increased support not only from the government and donors, but from everyone to ensure that LNRCS works on the grounds where lives will be saved and communities protected.

He adds that the institution needs to mobilize sufficient resources locally to sustain and make the response successful along with the government and other partners, adding: "We can't further accept the loss of many lives as it was in the case of Ebola."

Mr. Clark expresses concerns that disabled and people with special needs and other vulnerabilities are already struggling and could be at even greater risk if nothing is done to address their pressing needs as affected communities and population [are] to stay home.

He notes that the whole world is struggling to cope, and it is not yet known the full extent of the economic and social crisis that will be faced, urging that stronger and appropriate measures must be taken to save lives.

"So far, Africa has been the continent least affected by the pandemic, but if measures to contain the virus are not taken immediately, it could be devastating," he warns.

He calls on the communities to avoid their usual hand shake/ hugging, closed contact, and keep in self - isolation while seeking quick medical intervention when they have fever as COVID-19 has no cure.

In an overview, Mr. Christopher O. Johnson, Head of Programs/National Society Development, LNRCS says in supporting government's effort to curb the spread of the COVID-19, LNRCS has donated 1,672 hand washing buckets and other assorted related materials.

He lists masks, gloves and thermometers to several private and public institutions, Community - Based Organizations and individuals, among others.

Further, he says they have strengthened collaboration with the Ministry of Health, the National Public Health Institute of Liberia (NPHIL), the National Disaster Management Agency (NDMA), and the larger response coordination mechanism.He details that they have invoked the attention of partners including the IFRC, ICRC, and PNSs.

He explains that the LNRCS has been strongly involved from preparedness to response, collaborating with the government and complementing the Ministry of Health and National Public Health Institute of Liberia in setting up Precautionary Observation Center.

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