By Joe Lowry
The Maldivian Red Crescent became the 187th member of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) at its 18th General Assembly in Geneva today.
Having fulfilled all the conditions necessary for membership, the new society was welcomed into the IFRC by President Tadateru Konoé and attendees from 180 fellow National Societies following this morning’s opening ceremony.
The process of forming the new National Society began in the wake of the devastating 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami which affected over 27,000 people in the Maldives. These low-lying islands will be among the most threatened territories should sea levels rise significantly.
Maldivian Red Crescent president, Ibrahim Shafeeg, said preparation for another catastrophe is only one part of the organization’s work. “As a member of the National Disasters Council we work with the government on disaster preparedness and response. We are also trying to do more to prevent child abuse, to empower women, to combat drug abuse, and to help young people adopt healthier lifestyles.”
The Society is also planning to expand its first-response activities to assist people injured in domestic violence or street fights.
The Maldives is best known as a tourist destination and as one of the most popular diving spots in the world. Accordingly, the the Maldivian Red Crescent provides first aid training for boat owners and diving schools, and has started awareness and fund-raising among the thousands of tourists who visit its shores each year. Its 700 volunteers have also been at the forefront in public information campaigns about dengue fever and other communicable diseases.
Speaking after his organization was formally admitted, Mr Shafeeg said: “We feel great, like we finally made it. We will go forward faster and full of confidence. We are very proud to be a part of the family.”