In 2017 the world faced a series of demanding humanitarian emergencies, not least here in the UK. The Manchester bombing and London Bridge attack – closely followed by the Grenfell Tower fire – devastated families across the country and led to it being one of the most demanding years for the British Red Cross since WWII. From Manchester and Myanmar to Libya and London here we take a look back at 2017 – a year in crisis.
January: South Sudan – Conditions in the world’s newest country are leading to the fastest growing refugee crisis. Penina is blind. Neighbours used to take care of her by bringing food every day. When fighting broke out, people fled. “People who used to help me did not come back. I now try to pick cassava leaves and cook my own meals, but it is hard to manage.” Come February the UN declares famine in parts of South Sudan, the world’s first since 2011.
February: Libya – 74 people wash ashore on the Libyan coast in the first major drowning of 2017. It’s the latest tragedy at sea for people fleeing to Europe to escape war and poverty. The Libyan Red Crescent reports the bodies found on the coast of the city of Zawiya took six hours to recover.
March: East Africa food crisis – Drought and conflict left 22 million people across East Africa in urgent need of food. Very poor rainfall in the region (which includes Somalia, Kenya, Djibouti, Ethiopia and Uganda) led to the driest period in 60 years for some areas, leading to crop failures and deaths of livestock.
April: Lake Chad, The Silent Emergency – Despite affecting 17 million people across four countries (Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Nigeria), this is the crisis that rarely makes the headlines. Falta’s seven- year-old son Modou was burned when armed men torched their home in a village on the border with Nigeria. Her two other sons died in the fire. She now lives in an IDP camp in the extreme North of Cameroon, where finding food is their biggest challenge.
May: Manchester terror attack – On Monday 22 May, 22 people were tragically killed and dozens more injured after a bomb exploded at the Manchester Arena. Many of them were children. Around 120 other people were injured in the blast at an Ariana Grande concert. Following the event, the We Love Manchester Appeal raises more than £16m to support people and their families affected by the tragedy.
June: Grenfell Tower fire – On 14 June the 24-storey Grenfell Tower block caught fire in West London. 71 people died and over 70 were injured. In the wake of the disaster people donated more than 40,000 boxes of clothes, blankets, toiletries and essential items for those affected – enough to fill three football pitches. In the same month eight people were killed and 48 injured in a terror attack at London Bridge.
July: UK Loneliness epidemic – Over nine million people in the UK (almost one fifth of the population) report they are always or often lonely. Loneliness and social isolation form a hidden epidemic that is negatively impacting on people’s health and wellbeing. The Jo Cox Commission on loneliness finds half of all disabled people in the UK feel isolated and lonely.
August: South Asia Floods – Heavy monsoon rains in August and September trigger severe flooding over huge areas in Nepal, India and Bangladesh. More than 41 million people are affected, with hundreds of thousands losing their homes, crops and livelihoods. Faced with one of the worst floods in recent years, families in low-lying areas have been finding new ways to get through tough times. Flooding has wreaked havoc, affecting more than 1.3 million people with homes, farms, roads and essential services destroyed.
September: Hurricane Irma batters the Caribbean – On the island of St. Maarten 70% of homes and buildings are damaged or destroyed. Critical infrastructure, including water supply is severely damaged. Hurricane Irma leaves many of the islands barely habitable and Hurricane Maria closely follows, ripping through already vulnerable islands and causing further devastation.
October: Myanmar – A surge of violence in Myanmar sees more than 600,000 people cross into Bangladesh in less than two months. In a makeshift camp, 25-year-old Shovika holds her new-born daughter. She gave birth in the hills while fleeing her Myanmar. Back home, the young couple had a house and four cows that provided a stable income. But their house was burned in the violence. And as they fled, their cows were shot. Now, they live in a camp for new arrivals to Bangladesh where Shona, 27, has found work as a day labourer for £2.70 a day.
November: Yemen – After two years of conflict, more than 14 million people in Yemen do not have enough food. Up to 70% of the population urgently need emergency aid as the country is also now in the grip of an unprecedented cholera epidemic.
Displaced children are waiting for their turn to collect a daily share of bread for their families from a Red Cross supported bakery.
December: Snow storms – In 2017 the British Red Cross supported more than 200,000 people through its Home from Hospital and mobility aids services. When MET office issues a ‘Danger to life’ weather warning for snow in parts of Wales in December , the British Red Cross are called in to transport hospital staff and crucial blood supplies as temperatures plummet to -5c overnight.
The British Red Cross helps millions of people in the UK and around the world to prepare for, respond to and recover from emergencies, disasters and conflicts. Our volunteers and staff help people in crisis to live independently by providing support at home, mobility aids and transport. We also teach first aid skills. We are part of the global Red Cross and Red Crescent humanitarian network.
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