IFRC President reaffirms commitment to tackling challenges in Africa

Published: 28 January 2013 14:27 CET

By Benoit Matsha-Carpentier in Burundi

The president of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), Mr Tadateru Konoé, has concluded a two-day official visit to Bujumbura where he met with Burundi President H.E. Pierre Nkurunziza and vice-president of the national assembly.

During his visit to the Burundi capital, President Konoé reiterated the IFRC’s support for the Burundi Red Cross Society and expressed his admiration and appreciation for the work the organization has undertaken in community engagement, water and sanitation and also especially for their work with recent returnees from Tanzania.

“I am very proud to have the Burundi Red Cross Society as a National Society. Despite the challenges, the society has become a model in Africa and around the world. With its incredible network of more than 350,000 volunteers, it is a strong National Society and has enormous potential. Building on an existing excellent relationship with the government, and with the support of the IFRC, it will be very successful in its work,” President Konoé said.

Over the last five years – and since the beginning of the project of colline-level volunteer units – the Burundi Red Cross Society has made tremendous progress in helping the most vulnerable, providing housing, water and sanitation, and access to basic health care.

“One of the two main priorities of the Burundi government is the fight against poverty. The Red Cross is playing a key role in tackling poverty in our country and I am very thankful for all their efforts,” President Nkurunziza said.

In addition to his meetings with the government, President Konoé also met with 11 of the 15 Red Cross National Societies of the Eastern Africa Regional Representation office.

As in many parts of Africa, the challenges are huge in this region, from food security to drought and political instability, and new solutions in terms of cooperation and resource mobilization need to be found.

“We need to be innovative, and think about new solutions for our African National Societies to become self-sustainable. Africa is a big challenge for us but it is also a big chance. We have to be optimistic as there are good signs of change in Africa,” said President Konoé.

As his visit to Burundi concluded, President Konoé affirmed that the IFRC will continue to provide support to the Burundi Red Cross Society and to other National Societies of the region in order for them to put into action the commitments made during the 8th Pan-African Conference held in Addis-Ababa in October 2012.