Presidential visit to Saudi Arabia opens new era of increased cooperation

Published: 22 April 2010 0:00 CET

Commitment to support the humanitarian mandate of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and closer cooperation with the Saudi Red Crescent Authority (SRCA) were at the heart of talks during the visit of IFRC President Tadateru Konoé to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, from 15 to 17 April.

Mr Konoé was received by the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud, as well as by His Royal Highness (HRH) Prince Faisal Bin Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud, president of the Saudi Red Crescent.

The IFRC president paid tribute to the Kingdom’s support for many humanitarian activities and for the humanitarian work of the Saudi Red Crescent Authority, domestically and worldwide, for example in Sudan, Darfur and Kyrgyzstan where SRCA has been active for years. Mr Konoé also expressed admiration for the King’s efforts to promote peace, dialogue and tolerance in the world and for his support for the creation of an International Centre for the promotion of interfaith dialogue, tolerance and peace in Vienna.

In their discussions, Mr Konoé and HRH Prince Faisal, agreed on the importance of strengthening relations between the IFRC and the SRCA and increasing cooperation.

High visibility will be given to new endeavours and actions, in order to further ‘humanitarian diplomacy’ and inform donors, the media, humanitarian partners and other concerned stakeholders about the needs of vulnerable groups and the responsibility of all to support them.

The need to strengthen humanitarian action and ensure its neutrality, impartiality and independence of any political or other considerations except to serve the community and individuals according to their vulnerability was also agreed on.

In order to achieve these objectives, a plan of action including concrete proposals for increased and sustained cooperation with the Saudi Red Crescent will be drawn up, to be implemented and monitored by a joint working group. The plan includes training new leaders and disaster managers in the National Societies of the region, encouraging staff exchanges and setting up better mechanisms to exchange good practice and experiences.

The Saudi Red Crescent was founded in 1963. It provides emergency medical services in the Kingdom’s five administrative regions through nearly 200 first aid centres, run by more than 3,500 staff and using more than 600 ambulances. The Saudi Red Crescent plays a key role during Hadj – the annual pilgrimage to the Holy City of Mecca, providing emergency first aid and ambulance services to transport severe cases to the nearest medical facility.