The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Al Jazeera media network to improve cooperation and help give a voice to the voiceless. “I see our engagement with Al Jazeera as a key milestone for advancing our outreach and support to those in need,” said Bekele Geleta, Secretary General of the IFRC. The agreement was signed in Doha on 26 May.
The MoU stands as a first step towards greater cooperation in a range of common interest areas: training, cause-related campaigns or key themes such as silent disasters, urban risks, inequitable access to health, first aid, new technologies and humanitarian empowerment.
“I know that the making of news and the delivery of aid are two different things. However, I see a fantastic synergy in our joint capacity to have people's voices heard and acted upon, especially when their plight goes unnoticed and under-reported,” Geleta said. “We can exert joint leadership in further highlighting what we call ‘silent disasters’ which represent 90 per cent of the disasters and crises the worldwide Red Cross Red Crescent Movement responds to.”
In recent years, Al Jazeera has emerged as a leading media organization with Arab affiliation and global orientation, comprising a number of specialized satellite channels, educational and training centers, and a specialized department dedicated to fostering human rights and public liberties and protecting journalists and media workers during media coverage. The broadcaster is also committed to raising public awareness of issues that are of public concern, supporting human rights, and advocating the values of tolerance and democracy.
“I also see the potential at providing joint thought leadership in issues of common interest, especially related to human and humanitarian rights from both individual and community perspectives,” Geleta said. “Thought-leadership could extend our continued effort to further promote humanitarian principles, such as impartiality, neutrality or independence, in the face of crises or disasters.” But, he said, giving a voice to the voiceless went beyond working as institutions. “It should also include a joint commitment to support people’s aspiration and participation in becoming active contributors in their respective contexts.”
As formalized in Doha, the cooperation between Al Jazeera and the IFRC will also build on productive relations developed over the past years between this media network and the Qatar Red Crescent Society.