Ebola myths put lives in danger

IMG_2280Internet rumours claim the Red Cross is deliberately giving Ebola to people in West Africa. This is not true.

Every day, Red Cross staff and volunteers – most of whom are from the countries affected by the outbreak – risk their lives to help prevent the spread of the disease. Their only focus is fighting a virus that has caused thousands of deaths and placed many more people in danger. More

Surviving Ebola: Red Cross discharges first two patients from Sierra Leone treatment centre


Osman and Kadiatu, pictured centre, holding their discharge papers

When the Red Cross opened a treatment centre recently in Sierra Leone, Osman Sesay was the second confirmed Ebola patient to arrive.

When he crossed the threshold of the Kenema centre, he was listless and lethargic, with the glazed-over look of someone infected with the deadly disease.

Over the course of the past two weeks, Osman watched 11 fellow patients being taken for burial in the newly-dug cemetery, while he continued to grow stronger. He interacted with staff more, he moved more, he began asking for more food.


South Sudan crisis: what childhood is this?

South-Sudan-SB-blog-IIISouth Sudan is mired in conflict. The daily realities of life in the world’s newest nation are hard to comprehend. In this blog, Seema Biswas, a field surgeon with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), shares her experiences of working in South Sudan.

This time a fortnight ago, I was waiting anxiously for a helicopter that had been despatched to take me and my colleagues back to Juba from the field.

We were leaving three days late as the rainy season makes some airstrips impassable. We waited quietly, surrounded by children sporting football shirts from around the world, as the helicopter refuelled.

I wondered whether one day I would watch one of these children wearing his own shirt and playing for South Sudan on TV.


West Africa Ebola outbreak: new health centre in pictures


A new Ebola treatment centre has been opened by the Red Cross in one of the worst affected areas in Sierra Leone.

The centre, on the outskirts of Kenema city, received its first patients within hours of opening on 15 September. Among them was an 11-year-old girl.


Syria: knitting, sewing and weaving an independent life

A woman holds a heart-shaped frame

© Ibrahim Malla/IFRC

How can making a scarf, belt or bag help someone stand on their own feet? Just ask the women learning craft skills at a project in Dwailaa, Syria. The sessions let them support their families and escape some of the pressures of daily life.

All the women have been affected by the country’s crisis. Some have had to flee their homes elsewhere in Syria. Most were struggling to cope, emotionally and financially, when they started the sessions.

Three teachers at the Syrian Arab Red Crescent project pass on skills in knitting, weaving and other crafts, so the women are able to make items for sale. The hours spent learning and creating are also therapeutic, and follow on from sessions where the women are able to talk about the problems they face.

Amal, one of the women taking part, says: “when I have been here, my family say I return home with a smile on my face, I am much happier.” More

Sulaf’s story: the battle to stay healthy in Syria

© Ibrahim Malla/IFRC

© Ibrahim Malla/IFRC

When you think of the health risks posed by Syria’s conflict, you probably picture dramatic injuries caused by bullets and bombs. But many people are struggling to cope with long-term conditions. Across Syria, people face pain and danger as health services collapse. 

Teenager Sulaf and her 7-year-old sister Hiba are waiting at the Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC) children’s clinic in Dwailaa, Rural Damascus. The girls are diabetic, and waiting to get their insulin.

Sulaf, 15, has been having problems with her eyesight too, and her family are concerned. Then the girls’ mother is given some shocking news.  She says: “The doctor said that Sulaf’s optic nerve is damaged, and the cause is the high degree of her diabetes”. More

Changing lives in the Balkans after floods

Near Brcko district,  Bosnia and Herzegovina, two weeks after the floods -  ©IFRC/Nicole Robicheau

Near Brcko district, Bosnia and Herzegovina, two weeks after the floods – ©IFRC/Nicole Robicheau

Having never visited or worked in Bosnia and Herzegovina, I’d always associated the Balkan nation with the Bosnian war during the mid-1990s and the horrific events of Srebrenica.

Yet this is a remarkable country. It boasts rolling green hills, a diverse culture, a rich history, a wonderful cuisine and an extremely hospitable population.

Bosnians speak proudly of their natural resources, including the abundance of clean water. The very thought of purchasing bottled water is simply not up for discussion.

In May, however, the famous rivers of the Sava, Drina and Bosna caused havoc. They normally wind their way through the country providing much needed natural irrigation to agriculture, but on this occasion they burst their banks following unprecedented rainfall.