Herniwaty Husni, Singapore Red Cross, in Manila
'It is upon action that we are judged. Collectively we are going to deliver, together we will turn words into action,' said Federation Secretary-General Didier Cherpitel at the closing of the 6th Regional Asia-Pacific Conference in Manila where delegates from 49 Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies in the Asia-Pacific and the Middle East formally adopted the Manila Action Plan (MAP).
The plan commits the Red Cross and Red Crescent in the region to a series of activities that aim to improve the lives of people affected by disasters and population movement, and to step up the fight against HIV/AIDS.
With Asia-Pacific suffering from 60 per cent of the world's natural disasters, which perpetuates poverty, the MAP commits Asia Pacific Red Cross and Red Crescent societies to lobby governments to promote greater understanding, coherence and consistency in international disaster response law, to secure people's right to assistance. While there is protection afforded to victims of armed conflict through international humanitarian law, there is no such support for victims of both natural and technological disasters.
Delegates at the regional conference also committed to advocating for, and ensuring, that all people affected by population movement and displacement, have access to basic rights. The Asia Pacific region has the world's largest refugee population, more than 4.5 million internally displaced people, and the largest source of migrants.
With the Manila Action Plan, the societies in the region are committed to increasing their support, protection and assistance to refugees, internally displaced people and migrants. They further commit to advocate for more governments to accede to the 1990 UN Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families.
Scaling up efforts to combat HIV/AIDS – and particularly HIV-related stigma and discrimination – is another issue highlighted in the MAP. Existing Red Cross and Red Crescent community-based health structures and programmes and the unique network of nearly 70 million volunteers in the region will be used to reach more people in prevention and anti-stigma and discrimination work.
There are more than 7.7 million people living with HIV/AIDS in Asia-Pacific and the Middle East. Infection rates among women are rising significantly in a number of countries. Taking this into account, MAP also committed Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies to health programmes that empowered women.
Earlier in the day, conference delegates shared and exchanged ideas during an open forum session on how Red Cross/Red Crescent Societies can operate more effectively and efficiently. Key to this, was the need to establish partnerships outside of the organization. Corporate partnerships, rather than sponsorships, were encouraged by John Searle, Director General of the New Zealand Red Cross.
The Asia-Pacific region will shortly benefit from one such partnership. Earlier in the month, the International Federation signed a partnership agreement with the OPEC Fund for International Development. The two organizations will each commit two million dollars to support HIV/AIDS programmes in six Asian countries and 11 Pacific countries.
The Manila Action Plan will provide the framework of activities in the region over the next four years when the VII Asia Pacific regional conference takes place.
"Commitment to the action plan will ensure that by 2006, the Asia Pacific Red Cross and Red Crescent societies will have made a significant contribution to improving the lives of those affected by disasters and displacement and in helping to contain the spread of HIV/AIDS," says Murli Deora, Vice President of the International Federation for the Asia Pacific region.
28/11/2002 - Bulletin No. 4
27/11/2002 - Bulletin No. 3
26/11/2002 - Bulletin No. 2
25/11/2002 - Bulletin No. 1
28/11/2002 - Asia Pacific Red Cross Red Crescent Conference adopts action plan that fights for rights
25/11/2002 - Red Cross Red Crescent calls for greater ratification of migrant and refugee conventions
22/11/2002 - Red Cross Red Crescent conference to address Asia Pacific's major challenges
22/11/02 2002 - HIV/AIDS and population movements top Manila agenda
VIth Asia and Pacific Regional Conference of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies