Irish generosity praised by International Federation of the Red Cross & Red Crescent

Published: 17 September 2004 0:00 CET

The generosity of Irish citizens has made a valuable contribution to the work of the Red Cross/Red Crescent throughout the world and has been instrumental in the humanitarian efforts in Sudan and Beslan, according to the Secretary General of the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.

Mr. Markku Niskala visited Dublin today (Tuesday, 14 September) to meet with the Minister for Development Cooperation and Human Rights, MR Tom Kitt T.D. Discussions centred on a partnership agreement between the Irish Government and the International Federation to support programmes that assist vulnerable people living in Western and Central Africa.

“I am particularly pleased to be there today, to formally mark this two-year agreement between the Federation and the Irish Government. Development Cooperation Ireland, reflecting the tradition of generosity evident in the Irish people’s longstanding contributions to our appeals for international aid, has steadily increased its donations to Federation Programmes since 2001. They have pledged €1.5 million over 2004 and 2005,” he explained.

“I am also grateful for the donation, today of €250,000 to the Red Cross towards meeting the humanitarian needs in Baslan and those areas affected by Hurricane Ivan. The plight of those in need of aid, like those in these countries must never be forgotten,” Mr. Niskala said.

“Over the years the Irish people have consistently responded to the call for help when humanitarian issues arise. The Federation also wishes to salute the hard work and commitment of Irish Red Cross staff and volunteers. Their community work is a shining example of our principles and humanitarian values in action,” he concluded.

In a glowing tribute the Minister for Development Cooperation and Human Rights praised the Red Cross. He said the humanitarian organisation proved time and again that it is one of the most effective international agencies at responding rapidly and effectively to disasters. “In those precious hours after the onset of a disaster, it is local capacity and ability that saves lives. We are working closely with the Red Cross to build this capacity,” Mr Kitt TD said.

“I would also like to pay tribute to the Irish National Red Cross Society which continues to grow in strength as a key member of the International Federation.”

The Secretary General of the Irish Red Cross, Mrs Carmel Dunne, who accompanied Mr Niskala to the meeting in the Department of Foreign Affairs said that, “The Irish Red Cross, as a member of the International Federation of Red Cross Red Crescent Societies, works with local communities providing First Aid and much needed community services at local level. We are pleased the Irish Government, through Development Cooperation Ireland, is currently supporting Red Cross Red Crescent programmes in Western and Central Africa. We also appreciate their commitment to and support of the Irish Red Cross.”

Notes to Editors
Mr Niskala was formerly the Secretary General of the Finnish Red Cross and was appointed as Secretary General of the Federation last year. He is accompanied in his visit by Ivana Mrjda, External Relations Officer at the Federation.