The IFRC Regional Director for Asia Pacific, Alexander Matheou, visited Myanmar from 23 to 29 April 2023.
The purpose of the visit was to meet the new leadership of the Myanmar Red Cross Society (MRCS) and to discuss with them the importance of applying the Red Cross’ Fundamental Principles of neutrality, impartiality and independence to provide principled humanitarian assistance in a complex emergency.
To this end, Mr. Matheou also met State Administration Council ministries, including the Minister of Health, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Minister of International Cooperation. The Regional Director highlighted the special auxiliary role of MRCS in the provision of humanitarian services in Myanmar, and the importance of respecting its independence and neutrality as it delivers assistance in response to natural disasters, in health crises, and in situations of conflict.
Noting the role of the IFRC to support and strengthen the actions and institutional capacity of the MRCS, the Regional Director also called for facilitation of humanitarian assistance, especially in areas that are hardest to reach. He confirmed IFRC’s commitment to supporting the MRCS to respond to humanitarian needs, aligned with the Red Cross’ Fundamental Principles.
Mr. Matheou said: “Over 17 million people need humanitarian assistance in Myanmar. It is one of the largest and most complex humanitarian crises in the world. No single organization can reach everyone in need or reach all parts of the country affected by the crisis. Like other organizations, we have our limitations. However, Myanmar Red Cross is the country’s largest humanitarian organization, and it has a key role to play in communities across the country, through its local branches and its trained volunteers."
"Our job as IFRC is to assist Myanmar Red Cross to fulfil that role in a principled way, to the benefit of as many people as possible in Myanmar, in response to both natural and manmade disasters, and strengthen its role as a local community actor.”
With a nationwide network, Myanmar Red Cross Society (MRCS) is the country’s largest humanitarian organization delivering humanitarian assistance across the country. The MRCS, supported by the IFRC network, provides services in disaster management and risk reduction, health and care, mental health and psychosocial support, water and sanitation, restoring family links, and first aid and safety services, amongst others.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the MRCS assisted millions of people through risk awareness messaging, vaccination support, quarantine support and distribution of protective items, as well as providing oxygen to dozens of thousands of people in need, along with cash assistance to support socio-economic recovery of affected households. In the past two years since the military intervention, the MRCS has assisted hundreds of thousands of people across the country, in hard to access areas such as Chin, Magway, Sagaing, Kayah and Kayin, as well as Shan State and Yangon, through food assistance, cash distributions, medical assistance and non-food items such as hygiene kits, dignity kits, water filters, amongst others. The MRCS works as an auxiliary to public authorities in the humanitarian field, like all 192 National Societies of the Red Cross or Red Crescent around the world.
In Kuala Lumpur: Afrhill Rances, Regional Communications Manager, [email protected], +60 19 271 3641