In recent days, over 1,000 people have died across South Asia with a staggering 41 million people affected. People have lost their homes, crops and livelihoods. Flooding has seen more than a third of Bangladesh submerged. Health facilities, roads, schools and markets are under water. More rain is forecast and the situation could yet get worse.
In the immediate aftermath of the Grenfell Tower fire, dozens of people started to arrive at the local rest centres with bottles of water, bags of bedding, clothing, children's toys, anything they could muster to help those who had lost everything. Very quickly, those dozens of people turned into a community, then a city, and before the day was out the whole country was donating items to the fire victims. Everyone wanted to do something to help. It was a huge spontaneous response to what has been one of the UK's worst peacetime disasters.
The fund will support people who have been injured, bereaved or traumatised by terror attacks in the UK, helping to alleviate immediate suffering and ensure that victims and their families do not face short-term financial difficulties.
Severe hunger that threatens lives is spreading across parts of Africa. Chronically and silently, a food crisis has been growing which the UN says now means that 20million people are facing deadly hunger. It hasn't happened in a day, it won't be solved in one, but it desperately needs the world's focus to save those lives.
As I write this, I have just been given the devastating news that Yasser Lakmoush, a SARC volunteer from Idlib, has tragically been killed while undertaking humanitarian work. Poignantly, before his death, he tried to illustrate the emotions of being a frontline first aider in this crisis: "the feeling you have when you save somebody cannot be described, it is a matter of life or death."
Earlier this year the British Red Cross supported Barbara in Paignton, Devon. She has mobility limitations that meant she could no longer leave the house. She had to give up work, her routine, and seeing friends and family. She completely lost her independence. This is why tackling loneliness and social isolation through our partnership with the Co-op is so important. Because people like Barbara are not alone.
Over recent weeks and months we've seen attacks on civilian targets such as hospitals and aid convoys in Syria and Yemen. We appeal to all parties to respect the basic principles of international humanitarian law - precaution, protection and distinction of civilians. Everything must be done to allow the safe and unimpeded access to any humanitarian organisation working to protect and assist the people fleeing Mosul.
Volunteers are not collateral damage. They are not acceptable targets when a ceasefire ends. Ceasefire or no, the rules of international humanitarian law still apply. Safe access must mean safe access. Guarantees given by fighting parties must be honoured. This recent attack has horrified people across the world. It has also denied 78,000 people of much-needed aid. These attacks cannot and must not continue. We call for all aid workers to be respected and protected. This, sadly, may not be the first time aid workers have been attacked. But it should be - it must be - the last.
We believe our government should proactively examine asylum claims for vulnerable families in Grand Synthe with young children and a UK connection. By working closely with the French Government, we can accept asylum transfers through discretionary clauses in a mechanism known as the Dublin regulation.
We should bear that fact in mind before denying our responsibilities in this crisis. Migration and asylum claims are part of our modern world and we need to be pro-active in international collaboration between countries of origin, transit and destination in order to preserve the right to seek international protection.
On 8 May, I will be celebrating the birthday of Henry Dunant, one of the most important men you've never heard of. I confess before I began my career at the British Red Cross, I too was unfamiliar with his name.
Syria, when it does make the news, is seen in terms of battle lines and military strategies. When civilians are forced to flee, they go wherever they think they will be safest - but often their choice is misunderstood as a declaration of allegiance to one group or another.
Many of the people we work with are relying on food parcels, crisis grants from the Red Cross and the kindness of the local community. After the 28-day transition period, the state no longer provides housing. Some people sofa-surf if they have friends. If they don't, sleeping rough is the only option. And what makes it even tougher to stomach is that it is entirely avoidable.
It is not our role to discuss how best to bring peace, but it is up to us to address the impact of the conflict on civilians and their humanitarian needs. The need to scale up assistance is great and urgent. Access will become increasingly difficult in some areas - already aid agencies have to negotiate to reach people in need on a daily basis. More supplies are desperately needed in order to support ever-growing numbers of displaced people. Iraqi Red Crescent and ICRC volunteers and staff must be able to deliver assistance safely. Let there be no doubt that the crisis in Iraq has developed into a humanitarian one - and that addressing it is what the term humanitarian means.
20/07/2014 20:22 BST
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