Ebola virus disease explained: Q&A



An outbreak of Ebola has left thousands dead in West Africa. The Red Cross, along with other humanitarian agencies, is working to stop the spread of the deadly and highly contagious disease.

1. What is the Ebola virus?

Ebola virus disease is a severe and often fatal illness – outbreaks have a fatality rate of up to 90 per cent, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).

Outbreaks occur predominately in remote villages in Central and West Africa near tropical rainforests.

The first incidence of Ebola was in 1976 in two simultaneous outbreaks: in Nzara, Sudan, and in Yambuku, a village in the Democratic Republic of Congo close to the Ebola River, from which the disease takes its name.

The origin of the virus is unknown. The current Ebola outbreak is the largest ever documented, both in terms of the number of cases and the size of the affected area.


Cyclone Pam: volunteers on the front line



The amount of destruction caused by Cyclone Pam, which hit a string of Pacific islands last weekend, is still unknown. But we do know the disaster has left people in its path dead or injured, and many thousands homeless.

Aid workers from around the world have been racing to the countries affected, including Vanuatu, in the wake of the disaster.

But one team was in action before the cyclone had even arrived. More

Listen: Why is the Red Cross treating cows?



Life without cattle for people in South Sudan is unimaginable. Cattle are currency and they play a huge role in the lives of nomadic tribes throughout the country.

The conflict in South Sudan has left cattle exposed to diseases. Losing cows to disease could devastate livelihoods for thousands of people.

That’s why the Red Cross is vaccinating and treating cows – more than half a million have been vaccinated so far.

Listen to this podcast with Rob Donnellan, a returning Red Cross aid worker, to find out why cattle are so important to the South Sudanese.


“The world has forgotten”: An artist’s take on the Syria crisis

A man holds a milk bottle

© Matt Percival/BRC

How can one image sum up four years of violence, fear and hardship?

A new artwork is using more than a thousand milk bottles to mark four years since the start of the conflict in Syria.

No One Home has been curated by Syrian artist Ibrahim Fakhri, who now lives in Oxford. He describes the impact of the crisis – and reveals how art can show people the reality of life for those affected. More

How do we protect our Ebola fighters?



Aid workers fighting Ebola make huge personal sacrifices to save lives in West Africa. But how do we protect our staff and volunteers? In this blog, Sam Lauder explains the importance of infection prevention at the Red Cross treatment centre in Kenema, Sierra Leone.

A torn glove, a moment of lapsed concentration, a needle injury – there is so much that could potentially go wrong when working in an Ebola treatment centre.

As a member of the infection and prevention control (IPC) team, it was my job to make sure that we did everything to stop the virus from spreading.


Ebola outbreak – after the quarantine

Ebola-Anna-blogJinna Amara had been ill for several days. No one knew what was wrong with her.

Upon hearing that his cousin was sick, Mustapha Mambu did what anyone else would do – he cared for her and tried to get her treatment.

Mustapha went to fetch his cousin from her home in Kailahun, eastern Sierra Leone, in late September.

He wasn’t to know that she had Ebola. Sadly, three days after bringing her home, she died. But worse was to come.


On the road with bread and blankets: how we helped thousands fleeing crisis in Syria

A boy holds a cardboard box

©Ibrahim Malla/IFRC

Last month, aid workers rushed to help a flood of people forced from their homes by Syria’s crisis. Photographer Ibrahim Malla reveals what happened next.

Thousands of people, most of them women or children, have just arrived in a temporary shelter near Damascus in search of safety. They travelled from nearby towns which were cut off by Syria’s crisis for almost two years. Their escape was only made possible by an agreement between different sides.

People have come with few belongings and need urgent help: food, water, healthcare and warm clothes. I’ve joined a team from the Syrian Arab Red Crescent heading to the shelter to meet these essential needs. More