Red Cross Red Crescent Asia Pacific Conference calls for greater innovation in tackling escalating humanitarian challenges

Published: 22 October 2014

Geneva/Beijing-October 22, 2014 - Today, members of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) gather in Beijing for the organisation’s 9th Asia Pacific Regional Conference. The Conference, which takes place every four years, brings together over 200 representatives from 49 Red Cross and Red Crescent National Societies from the Middle East, Asia and the Pacific to discuss solutions to the most pressing humanitarian and development issues in the region.

“We live in a rapidly changing humanitarian landscape. The Asia Pacific region is unique in its diversity. As economies in the region develop we see many positive developments and new opportunities, but we are also seeing changing trends in human vulnerability that can only be tackled with new and innovative approaches”, explains Elhadj As Sy, Secretary General of the IFRC.

Protracted crises in Syria and Iraq have claimed the lives of 345,000 people and displaced over 13.5 million people from their homes. Humanitarian space in these conflicts is shrinking and the security of aid workers and volunteers is increasingly at risk. Since the start of the crisis, 45 Red Crescent volunteers have been killed in Syria. The region also suffers over 40% of the world’s natural disasters; Typhoon Haiyan which struck the Philippines a year ago illustrates how disasters driven by climate change are having more extreme impacts. Climate change also poses a growing threat to the future of fragile island nations in the Pacific and to the region’s fast-growing cities – in 2010 urban populations overtook rural populations for the first time. Other risks in the region include emerging health threats such as Dengue which affects over 200 million people each year, but it is now non-communicable, or ‘lifestyle’ diseases, such as obesity and heart disease that are the leading cause of mortality across the region.

‘We need to change the way we work on many levels to meet today’s humanitarian challenges. This means understanding the needs of diverse urban populations, equipping our staff and volunteers with new skills and forming new partnerships. We must capitalize on advances in technology that offer opportunities to improve our reach and efficiency. We are already using mobile technology to gather health data and we communicate disaster warnings to mass audiences through text messaging”, says Elhadj As Sy.

During the course of the Asia Pacific Conference, a wide range of questions will be discussed in thematic working sessions; how to influence the post-2015 policy frameworks on sustainable development and humanitarian action? How to attract, retain and safeguard volunteers? How to better integrate health and disaster risk reduction programmes to build greater community resilience? How to engage with military actors who deliver humanitarian aid without compromising the Red Cross and Red Crescent Fundamental Principles of neutrality, impartiality and independence?

The conference will conclude with the Beijing declaration that provides a common humanitarian agenda for the IFRC in the Asia Pacific Region for the next four years.

For further information contact;

In Beijing:

Patrick Fuller, Communication Manager Asia Pacific

Tel: +60 122308451, +86 13681025825

Email: Twitter: pat_fuller

In Geneva:

Benoit Carpentier, Public Communications Lead, IFRC
Mobile: +41 792132413