By Benoit Matsha-Carpentier in Congo
Pursuing his humanitarian diplomacy efforts during his trip in Africa, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) president Mr. Tadateru Konoé, together with President Ndinga of the Congolese Red Cross Society, met with the vice-president of the Congolese National Assembly, the Minister of Health and the Deputy Secretary General of the Foreign Affairs ministry.
With a view of strengthening the role played by the Red Cross in the Central Africa region, and given the response from the international community on the many challenges faced by countries here, President Konoé commented on the strong partnership between the government and the Congolese Red Cross Society which has enabled the society to provide robust humanitarian services across the country, including emergency and long-term support to communities.
“We are very proud of the work the National Society and its volunteers are doing. In Congo, like in many parts of the world, volunteers are very dedicated. They have responded well in difficult times, and are still the first to be out when there is an emergency,” President Konoé said.
Formed in 1964 during the time of the repatriation of the Congolese residents of Leopoldville (currently part of the Democratic Republic of Congo), the national Red Cross society has always been considered a leading organization providing emergency care to vulnerable populations.
“The Congolese Red Cross Society is a real partner of the Ministry of Health. They are going where we don’t go yet. As they are declared part of the public utility, they are fully integrated into our health system,” said Professor Georges Moyen, Minister of Health of Congo.
In March 2012, Brazzaville was left reeling after the explosion of an ammunition depot, which led to several deaths and injured people, and hundreds of displaced citizens who lost everything. Emergency teams from the Red Cross were deployed very rapidly and were the first to respond to the emergency. Until now, some people have not been reallocated a house, but the National Society, with the help of the IFRC and other National Societies, is providing help to those in need.
In addition to his meetings with the government, President Konoé also attended bilateral meetings with seven of the eight National Societies of Central Africa. Each is facing enormous challenges, but is very much willing to engage in delivering better services to communities.
“In Africa, and especially in Central Africa, the challenges are huge. Disasters are becoming more frequent and more complex, which makes our response more complicated,” Mr Konoé said. “Between conflicts, epidemics, floods or even dramatic accidents, the capacities of the National Societies need to be strengthened so they can respond better to the needs.”
Mr. Konoé advocated for more effective collaboration between the government and the National Society. He also raised the importance of developing and implementing International Disaster Response Laws so that, in a disaster prone region like Central Africa, vital assistance is not held up.