Daily bulletin - 24th November 2011

Published: 25 November 2011 8:00 CET

Recognizing remarkable humanitarian action

Yesterday, a select number of Red Cross Red Crescent volunteers and National Societies were given awards for their remarkable actions in the humanitarian field. The Henry Davison Award, named after the IFRC’s founder, was given to Dr. Kee-Sun Ham, member of the Republic of Korea National Red Cross committee, and Dr. Ivan Usichenko, president of the Ukrainian Red Cross Society. The Youth Award, which recognizes outstanding programmes enhancing youth as agents of change in their communities, was awarded to the National Societies of Bulgaria, Costa Rica, Ireland and the Philippines. The National Societies of Australia, Germany, Pakistan and Uganda were honoured with the Volunteering Development Award for effective volunteer development and management. Read more.

Promoting gender equality and non-violence: we must do more

More than half of the people who die violently do so at their own hands. Another 35 per cent are murdered, usually by someone in their community, while only 11 per cent die as a result of war and gang violence. What this suggests, says Judy Fairholm of the Canadian Red Cross, is that more can and must be done by the Movement to prevent such daily violence. "It means that we are not fully responding to roughly 89 percent of violent deaths," said Fairholm, one of six panelists who advocated for more action during a workshop on gender equality and non-violence. Gender equality is a key issue because violence is often exacerbated by power disparities between men and women.

Excitement and opportunity: IFRC and National Societies take on fundraising

“We are all humanitarians, but we should all be fundraisers too,” said Sir Nicholas Young, chief executive of the British Red Cross, in one of the many challenges he posed during an energetic speech. The presentation came on a day when excitement over new visions for fundraising were mixed with frustrations over a lack of growth in fundraising to meet core needs. While Red Cross Red Crescent fundraisers are doing an impressive job, Sir Nicholas said: “Colleagues in other organizations are raising money harder and better and, as a result, they have more money to spend.” He urged National Societies to approve the Federation-wide Resource Mobilization Strategy, which seeks to maintain our leadership in resource mobilization during emergencies, while growing non-emergency funding and increasing the fundraising capacity of National Societies.

Road safety: addressing a humanitarian crisis

An estimated 1.3 million people worldwide are killed each year on the roads - more than 3,000 people every day. In a workshop hosted by the IFRC and the Global Road Safety Partnership, National Societies demonstrated their commitment to take action in tackling this crisis. The aim was not only to share experience and expertise, but specifically to develop a road safety framework to present to states at the upcoming 31st  International Conference, including two pledges. “It is not a transport problem; it is a community, man-made problem. It is about prevention and reducing human suffering,” said Ibrahim Osman, acting director of the IFRC’s Middle East and North Africa zone and an IFRC road safety pioneer.

“Volunteers are like warriors, but fighting without guns”

A 20-year-old Portuguese breakdancer asked delegates to re-think their perceptions of youth and how National Societies connect with young people. Joao Rafael Brites, a community activist who helps young people turn from being troublemakers into ‘change makers’, stressed the importance of giving youth more than just a voice. “You also need to give young people a platform. Society needs our actions more than our words,” said Brites. The breakdancer said National Societies should think about working with groups they may not have engaged with in the past, to find ways of assisting vulnerable groups. “The solution often lies with the people you help. Young people have the capacity to transform lives," he said.

A visit to the Humanitarian Village

A new element to the General Assembly this year is the Humanitarian Village. In total, 35 National Societies are displaying images or videos of their achievements and activities, many of which focus on volunteers providing disaster- or health-related humanitarian action. An IFRC road safety stand encourages National Societies to promote ten commitments that will reduce deaths on the road. Visitors to the development lounge can test IFRC online learning tools, engage with the National Societies databank and more. Additional interactive exhibits promote volunteer promotion, protection and recognition, as well as the ICRC Health care in danger initiative.

General Assembly 2011