26/09/2012 - Minsk/Geneva: The President of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), Mr Tadateru Konoé has undertaken a two-day official visit to the Belarusian capital Minsk where he met Prime Minister Mikhail Vladimirovich Myasnikovich, Minister of Health Vasily Ivanovich Zharko and a representative of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and participated in a leadership meeting hosted by the Belarus Red Cross.
President Konoé expressed his appreciation of the trust and good cooperation between the government of Belarus and the national Red Cross society. “Such a solid relationship should stand as a source of inspiration for the whole region, and this partnership should be further nurtured so as to strengthen the auxiliary role of the Belarus Red Cross” President Konoé said, underlining the importance of the independence and neutrality of the organization, in line with the Fundamental Principles of the global Red Cross Red Crescent Movement.
Prime Minister Myasnikovich also commended the society for its humanitarian services which are of critical importance to the people of Belarus. “Our government often seeks advice from the Red Cross on health and humanitarian issues,” he said.
With more than 20,000 volunteers and a membership representing 14 per cent of the population, the Belarus Red Cross delivers a wide range of services in health and social care targeting people affected by disasters, tuberculosis and HIV, the elderly, disabled people, and drug users, with a particular focus on women.
In addition, almost 26 years since the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, the organization is still playing a vital role in providing care for the survivors. “Over the past 19 years, our programme has provided screening to more than three million people, including 700,000 by the Belarus Red Cross,” President Konoé said. “The grim reality is that we still see many cases of cancer diagnosed each year. Chernobyl has become a forgotten disaster.”
Prime Minister Myasnikovich said the nuclear accident would be a focus for the foseeable future. “Continued health monitoring of those affected by the Chernobyl accident remains a top priority,” he said.
During his visit, President Konoé also emphasized the commitment of the IFRC, as affirmed by its General Assembly in 2011, to placing a greater focus on nuclear disaster preparedness and risk mitigation. Referring to the Fukushima accident in Japan in March 2011, he said: “We owe it to the victims that the lessons of these tragedies do not go unlearned.”
Prime Minister Myasnikovich and President Konoé agreed to further explore cooperation opportunities for more effective preparation and response to nuclear accidents. “I am all in favour of opening a new page of our cooperation with the Belarus Red Cross and the IFRC on common humanitarian priority causes,” concluded Prime Minister Myasnikovich.
As his visit to Belarus concluded, President Konoé reasserted that the IFRC will continue to provide support and assistance to the Belarus Red Cross as required as part of its wider commitment to develop cooperation between the Commonwealth of Independent States and the Red Cross Red Crescent Societies in the region.
About the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies
The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is the world's largest humanitarian and development network with nearly 100 million members, volunteers and supporters around the world. Together, we act before, during and after disasters and health crises to meet the needs and improve the lives of vulnerable people. We do so without discrimination as to nationality, race, gender, religious beliefs, class or political opinions. By supporting humanitarian standards, working as partners in development, responding to disasters, and supporting healthier and safer communities, we help reduce vulnerabilities, strengthen resilience and foster a culture of peace. The IFRC, our 187 National Societies and the International Committee of the Red Cross together constitute the International Red Cross Red Crescent Movement. For more information, please visit www.ifrc.org.