President Konoé’s visit to Ecuador: The strength of the Red Cross is its volunteers

Published: 1 June 2016 22:30 CET

Tadateru Konoé, President of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), has visited Manta, one of the cities most affected by the recent earthquake, to witness some of the work undertaken by staff and volunteers of the Ecuadorian Red Cross.

President Konoé had the opportunity to visit this city’s zero zone where he could see the devastation caused by the earthquake on 16 April, and the volunteer response. He was accompanied by Juan Cueva, President of the Ecuadorian Red Cross, Juan Carlos López, President of the Manta branch, Jan Gelfand, IFRC's Head of Programmes and Operations for the region, and other Ecuadorian Red Cross and IFRC representatives.

After his visit to the area, President Konoé headed to the Ecuadorian Red Cross office in Manta, which became the response centre for the Movement following the quake. There he met volunteers from Manta and Portoviejo.

“These days have been difficult for all of you. Coping with a disaster like this one puts to the test our strength and spirit but, as President Cuevas had told me, all the people who have been working in this emergency response have given their best to provide humanitarian assistance to those who need it the most,” said Konoé

“Reaching 65,000 people in just one month is a cause of pride for us; but there is still much to be done. It is now when we most need our volunteers' energy and enthusiasm. The recovery phase will be long and it requires great efforts. We must be able to improve the housing, water, health and livelihood conditions of those who have lost everything, and we must do it in a short period of time. It is not an easy task. We ask for your commitment, enthusiasm and patience to overcome the difficulties you will find on the way.”

After the president’s speech, volunteers had the opportunity to greet him, take pictures and thank him for his visit.

Visit to Pedernales

After leaving Manta, Konoé flew over the affected areas and landed in Pedernales, where he  saw areas affected by the quake before visiting the IFRC Regional Health Response Unit, which was mobilized for this emergency for the first time. This Unit relies upon the knowledge and the experience of Canadian and Colombian National Societies. It provides psychosocial support, and gynaecological and general medical care.

President Konoé also had a meeting with the mayors of the surrounding municipalities. He said: “Local governments are fundamental actors to these humanitarian aid networks and the coordination of efforts. I encourage you to keep working together now more than ever.”

Mr Konoé also met with volunteers working on the earthquake response in the area and thanked then for their dedication and their life-saving work in the aftermath of the earthquake.