8th May – Local actors are crucial to save lives!

by Francesco Rocca - IFRC President

At this very moment, in Mozambique, we are taking care of hard-to-reach communities, after Cyclone Idai hit. We are supporting hospitals and health facilities in Venezuela, providing lifesaving items. In Syria, we are doing our utmost to support the country’s growing needs. In the Pacific and Caribbean Islands, we are preparing local communities to respond to the humanitarian consequences of climate change. In Italy and in Spain, we are strengthening our actions for the most vulnerable, to be able to reach communities on the fringe of our society, as well as continuing our activities for migrants, to save lives, to protect human dignity and to work for integration. In Afghanistan, we are scaling up our activities to support the population which is suffering from drought and floods.

These are only a few examples of Red Cross Red Crescent activities around the world. I could go on, with at least 191 examples from our 191 National Societies. On World Red Cross and Red Crescent Day, I want first to thank all our volunteers and staff who are working around the clock to reach people in need and to alleviate their suffering. You are the last mile of humanitarian aid everywhere in the world, you are the proof that local actors are crucial to save lives, to prepare communities, to work faster and better in every single crisis in the world.

We are facing unprecedented humanitarian challenges. Crises are worsening and are frequently becoming protracted over many years. Natural disasters and climate change are putting millions of people at risk, and causing new population movements. Drought and famine are hitting a larger number of countries and communities. In war zones, rules are frequently not respected, civilians are trapped and used as a tool of war and our volunteers and staff are becoming a target. Today I want to remember all the volunteers and staff who have lost their lives in the line of duty: we will never forget you, you will be with all of us every day, inspiring our actions and activities. And I will continue to advocate in every place, in every conference, in every meeting for the safety of our people in the field, reaffirming that we must not be a target: an attack against humanitarians is an attack against humanity, an attack against entire vulnerable communities and a crime of war.

If we look at the news and the current scenario, a sense of frustration affects all of us. Individually, we all have our own personal stories, our own backgrounds, experiences, careers and personal lives, but we still come together as humanitarian actors, engaged for humanity and committed to our Fundamental Principles. For this reason, we must continue being optimistic, we have to keep hoping and to continue serving humanity, as the Red Cross Red Crescent Family is much needed by humanity.

And it is for this reason, too, that we have to speak out for the protection and dignity of people enduring the worst of times, to influence without being influenced, and to detect vulnerabilities that might affect our communities.

Again, thank you to all of you. As a volunteer myself, I am deeply proud and honoured to represent and to be part of the Red Cross Red Crescent Family and its 14 million volunteers.

Thank you for your daily support to humanity and making the world a better place.

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