Goodwill ambassador Naseer Shamma tackling humanitarian challenges through music

The renowned Iraqi Oud artist Naseer Shamma, the Goodwill Ambassador of Iraqi Red Crescent and IFRC MENA, performed for peace and social inclusion at the International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent movement last week in Geneva, Switzerland.

“I came here to stand side by side with the Red Cross and Red Crescent representatives who risk their lives to help people in need regardless of faith, ethnicity and political affiliations,” said Shamma.

The International Conference, held every four years since 1867, brings together States party to the Geneva Conventions and global Red Cross Red Crescent representatives to discuss the world’s most pressing humanitarian issues and adopt resolutions that guide future humanitarian action. This year, key issues on the agenda included trust, mental health, climate change, pandemic preparedness and migration.

Next year, the Iraqi Red Crescent with support from the IFRC, will continue to work with Mr. Shamma on various advocacy campaigns including climate change, blood donation, migration and health, especially mental health for people affected by war and natural disasters.

“Psychosocial needs increase dramatically when people are exposed to extremely distressing experiences, such as separation from or loss of loved ones, loss of homes, property and livelihoods and severe violations of human dignity. We want to address these issues together with Mr. Shamma,” said Dr. Yaseen Abbas, President of Iraqi Red Crescent.

“Through my music, I am also hoping to help people who struggle with mental health issues. Music can be a powerful healing tool. Music is not a luxury. It satisfies a human need,” said Mr. Shamma.

Climate related shocks and hazards are amongst the major humanitarian emergencies confronting humanity today. Tackling climate change will be the IFRC’s major priority over the coming decade. This means strengthening the capacity of the Red Cross and Red Crescent National Societies so that they can effectively respond in their own contexts.

For nearly a decade, Mr. Shamma has also been an active advocate spreading awareness about climate change, especially about the protection of the Mesopotamian Marshlands (al-Ahwar in Arabic).

“The Mesopotamian marshes are a rare aquatic wetland within a desert landscape in the southern part of Iraq, hosting a freshwater ecosystem and providing habitat for important populations of wildlife. Until the 1970’s, they used to cover an area of up to 20,000 square kilometers, but were then drained almost completely. Through active advocacy to reopen the waterways, and heavier rainfall, this unique ecosystem is slowly being saved.” Shamma explained.

The IFRC says that by 2050, 200 million people per year could need humanitarian assistance as a result of climate-related disasters and climate change’s socioeconomic impact.

“I look forward working with the IFRC to spread awareness on the deadly effects of climate change in order for communities to increase their capacity to deal with the impending disasters which are to come," Shamma concluded.