World's largest humanitarian network set to meet in Kenya

08:36, November 18, 2009      

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Delegates from the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement are due to meet in Nairobi from Wednesday to address today’s most pressing humanitarian challenges.

It's the first time ever that the world's largest humanitarian network will hold a Movement-wide meeting of its leaders in Africa.

The 17th session of the General Assembly of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) will address several key issues, starting with the adoption of its Strategy 2020, designed to better prepare Red Cross and Red Crescent National Societies to effectively address the humanitarian challenges of the coming decade.

This session will also see IFRC delegates elect a new president and governance bodies.

The organizers said the new survey will be released by the IFRC at the opening of the conference, revealing how the world powers -- known as the G20 -- perceive today’s top challenges in the humanitarian field. It shows that climate change, a lack of humanitarian access, armed conflict, increased poverty and hunger, and ongoing disregard for international humanitarian law (IHL) top the list of their concerns.

Predicting an increase in humanitarian needs in coming years, G20 policy makers emphasize the importance of better linking relief and development, while focusing on security, capacity building and development at the community level.

World powers also underline the crucial role of the Red Cross and Red Crescent in promoting and upholding fundamental humanitarian principles, and acknowledge the reach of the network and the effectiveness of its response.

“The findings of this survey fully resonate with the essence of our mission which, yes, is about saving lives, but is also about changing minds and systematically bridging emergency response, recovery and community-based development. Ultimately, our role is to help people help themselves,” said Bekele Geleta, Secretary General of the IFRC.

The General Assembly session will also see IFRC delegates elect a new president and governance bodies.

It will provide an opportunity to recognize and praise the outstanding role played by its outgoing President, Juan Manuel Suárez del Toro Rivero, after an eight-year mandate.

The Assembly will be followed by the Council of Delegates from Nov. 23-25, which brings together the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the IFRC and National Societies to adopt new policies and strategies on major humanitarian issues.

Discussions will focus on the growing number of people displaced within their own countries due to violence or disasters, international migration, and the human cost of climate change, as well as IHL-related topics such as limiting the use of deadly weapons and the protection of medical workers and health facilities in armed conflicts.

"The decisions taken by the Council will reinforce the commitment of the entire International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement to work together to assist and protect people around the world, who have been affected by wars, disasters, violence and disease," said Philip Spoerri, the ICRC's director in-charge of cooperation within the Movement.

"By focusing our collective attention on these issues and taking decisive action, we can go a long way in making vulnerable communities stronger."

Hosted by the Kenyan Red Cross Society, the Nairobi meetings also offer an opportunity to call for a greater, joint effort to meet the needs of Africa's most vulnerable and foster sustainable progress on the continent.

A number of special events will take place during the meetings, notably a panel discussion on 20 November featuring African leaders and personalities who will debate “African leadership for African solutions”.

The Assembly and Council will also highlight the success of the Movement's Our world. Your move. campaign, which was launched earlier this year to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the battle of Solferino, where the idea of the Red Cross and Red Crescent was born.

Our world. Your move. promotes the power of individuals to make a difference and the role of tens of millions of young people and volunteers working around the world to help others.

Source: Xinhua
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