Reinforcing cooperation, Saudi Red Crescent Authority and IFRC sign landmark MoU

Published: 2 October 2014 14:37 CET

By Raefah Makki and Soraya Dali-Balta, IFRC MENA

Seeking reinforced cooperation and coordination, the Saudi Red Crescent Authority (SRCA) and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) signed on Wednesday, 1 October 2014, a landmark Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that sets the ground for an upcoming stage of increased collaboration between both bodies.

The agreement between the SRCA and the IFRC was motivated and inspired by a strong desire to render more effective the response of both organisations to the pressing humanitarian needs in the region and around the world, as well as to promote human dignity based on shared values and the seven Fundamental Principles of the International Red Cross Red Crescent Movement.

In this respect, the SRCA and the IFRC vowed to increase close cooperation and consultation over issues of common interest. The agreement strongly emphasises continuous communication and exchange of information and advice to bolster ties between both parties, and calls for holding regular meetings and conferences to secure the attainment of common goals. The MoU also encourages launching and implementing joint activities, as well as assuring technical cooperation and support between the SRCA and the IFRC.

The signing ceremony took place in the Saudi city of Jeddah on Wednesday evening, in the presence of SRCA President H.R.H. Prince Faisal Bin Abdulla Bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud, Director General of the International Affairs and Relief Department of the SRCA H.H. Prince Abdulla Bin Faisal Al Saud and representing the IFRC were Secretary General Mr Elhadj As Sy, IFRC Vice President for the Africa region Dr Abbas Gullet, IFRC Director for Middle-East and North Africa Mr Elias Ghanem, and Mr Mohamed Babiker, the IFRC Regional Representative for the Gulf.

“We were eager to sign this MoU which serves as an opportunity for both the IFRC and the SRCA to exchange expertise and knowledge in different areas related to our joint humanitarian work and mission”, said H.R.H. Prince Faisal Bin Abdulla Bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud. “We consider this MoU very enriching to the SRCA. The Saudi Humanitarian Emergency Aid and Response Team (Saudi HEART) established by the SRCA can be a strong stepping stone for exchanging expertise related to humanitarian missions with international scopes”, added H.R.H Prince Faisal Bin Abdulla Bin Abdul Aziz.

Saudi HEART is a specialized SRCA team that provides emergency response to disasters in the Kingdom and internationally, with special concentration on public health, emergency shelter, medical relief and supply and logistics operations.

Mr Sy also lauded the signing of the MoU, considering it another “important milestone in the partnership with SRCA.” He explained: “The SRCA is one of our most active members. The Saudi Red Crescent Authority’s experience in supporting the pilgrims is a source of inspiration for the values our Federation stands for”, said Mr Sy. “We are committed to working side by side to support communities around the globe in responding to different challenges,” assured Mr Sy.

Mobilising the power of volunteers locally and globally

The Saudi Red Crescent Authority has long been one of the main supporters of to the Federation’s work and activities in the Middle East and North Africa region and on the international level, and has been member of the IFRC Governing Board since 2013.

Locally, and in addition to regular medical services and relief work, a mission that is particular to the Saudi Red Crescent Authority is that of aiding pilgrims and offering first-aid assistance during the Hajj season. The signing of the MoU took place on the eve of this year’s Hajj season, during which around 1,3 million faithful Muslims from all countries of the world will head to the Holy City of Mecca to perform the pilgrimage rites.

The SRCA strives to improve its pilgrimage services each Hajj season, and this year, more than 1,800 volunteers and technicians have been deployed and are supported by a fleet comprising 477 ambulances and 13 helicopters, in addition to 143 health centres operating around the clock to comfort the pilgrims and assist them during their religious mission.