UN humanitarian chief visits Iranian Red Crescent

Published: 18 September 2013 12:07 CET

The United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Valerie Amos met with Dr Mohammad Farhadi, President of the Red Crescent Society of the Islamic Republic of Iran, in Tehran on 14 September 2013.

The purpose of the visit, the first for Under-Secretary-General Amos in this role, was to discuss cooperation on natural disasters, and humanitarian and emergency aid between the National Society and the United Nations.

The President welcomed Under-Secretary-General Amos to his office in the Peace Building of the Red Crescent in Tehran where he briefed her about the organization’s humanitarian efforts at national and international level. He outlined the National Society’s efforts in developing volunteering, training and capacity building, especially among the country’s young people, and the impact they can have on humanitarian affairs.

Dr Farhadi said that Red Crescent relief workers were active and ready for deployment in international operations. “The Iranian Red Crescent has provided valuable and remarkable assistance at international level, such as during the Pakistan floods and the Somalia drought response,” he said.

Dr Farhadi pointed out challenges in supplying medicines and medical equipment due to sanctions and said that most medicines for patients and children who suffer from cancer and ‘hard-to-treat’ diseases are actually procured by the Iranian Red Crescent. “We do hope to fulfil our duties with a new approach and stronger efforts than ever,” the president said.

The UN Under-Secretary-General displayed her knowledge of the Red Crescent’s significant humanitarian role and activities at international level by saying that the Iranian Red Crescent has developed excellent experience and practice in disaster-affected countries. She also said that she had made this visit in order to see how the Iranian Red Crescent’s valuable experience and knowledge could benefit the UN in terms of disaster response and preparedness, as well as in the provision of humanitarian relief services to the vulnerable during a crisis.

The United Nations Disaster Assessment and Coordination (UNDAC) is part of the international emergency response system for sudden-onset emergencies. Amos explained that UNDAC members are relief workers from around the world, who undertake training courses, working together as teams prepared to deploy at very short notice in accordance with a common methodology on field missions in international emergencies. She extended her wish for relief workers from the Iranian Red Crescent relief workers to take part in these training courses.

The Red Crescent president emphasized that the National Society is ready to share its experience with the UN through the Iran Helal Higher Educational Institute – one of the Red Crescent’s specialized training centres – and also through its wider understanding of disaster management.

They also discussed a logistics centre in the country's capital, with Under-Secretary-General Amos requesting such a centre in Tehran to support neighbouring countries. “For some time, the preparatory work to establish a strategic relief centre in Tehran has been underway. What remains is the operational phase, although we hope to make it functional as quickly as possible,” explained Dr Farhadi.