The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies at its General Assembly in 1999 set its own objectives for the first part of the current millennium.
These are contained within our Strategy 2010 and in large measure reflect many of the aspirations expressed in the Millennium Declaration and its accompanying Development Goals. 181 Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies around the world, working as auxiliaries to their respective governments, be they donor or recipient, carry out core programs and activities that contribute to achieving the MDGs.
This is often most effectively done by providing essential community-based contributions to disaster preparation and response, health and social care, the dissemination of humanitarian values, and longer term development.
The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies has for many years promoted and acted on the belief that humanitarian activities are not and should not be divorced from those of development but that they are integrated links in a continuum of support to vulnerable populations.
In recognition of this, we have shifted our focus from relief activities to a balance of relief and development work. We have invested human and material resources into solid local capacity-building, ensuring that what starts as a relief operation plants the seeds of sustainable development.
The Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement sees government and donor acceptance and financial support of this continuum as essential to achieving its own goals and contributing to those of the Millennium Declaration.
The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, both through the fund-raising by its national members within their countries and internationally through its Secretariat in Geneva, links the humanitarian with the developmental.
It appeals annually for long-term development funding and through Emergency Appeals for humanitarian disasters. This covers a spectrum of challenges well articulated within the MDGs: HIV/AIDS, malaria, disaster preparedness and risk mitigation, and both sudden and slow-onset disasters, such as the Indian Ocean Earthquake and Tsunami and the food insecurity, drought and population movements in Africa.
We continue to urge governments to support and partner with their national Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies in both the humanitarian and development fields, to reinforce risk mitigation and disaster preparedness as means of ensuring better resistance to disaster and disease.
This will directly contribute to recovery and empower communities to engage in development with dignity. We firmly believe that a critical component to sustainable development is the involvement of civil society in the design and implementation of programs aimed at fulfilling their needs and desires.
Year after year, disaster after disaster, we have insisted that proper financing should apply to all disaster preparedness measures.
The Indian Ocean Earthquake and Tsunami is only the most recent, if most dramatic reminder, that we could have avoided the tragic human toll and suffering by investing more in disaster preparedness and advanced protective measures.
By sparing millions of dollars in disaster preparedness, we are now spending billions to mitigate damages that could otherwise have been prevented.
Disaster preparedness and risk reduction are integral to national development plans and are fully worthy of the same financial support that often comes during response to sudden onset emergencies.
The unprecedented response of the general public, governments, and the corporate sector to the Tsunami tragedy demonstrates that the will is there and that we have reached a turning point in how we address this paradigm. Now we have a chance to reverse the old practice of acting after a disaster has stricken.
Of the 25 major humanitarian disasters and challenges today, only the Indian Ocean Earthquake and Tsunami is well-funded. We can do more for the forgotten 24 other humanitarian disasters which did not get the same level of attention.
Financing the creation of a "culture of prevention" will not only lead to a major improvement of the lives of millions, but will also provide a unique opportunity to link and build an effective combination of recovery and long-term development.
It is the stated intention of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies to justify the trust and responsibility given to it through this funding to contribute to that dynamic and address the underpinning curse of poverty.