IFRC Secretary General calls on EU to expand efforts to reach most vulnerable and isolated

Published: 1 June 2016

Brussels/Geneva, 1 June 2016 – The Secretary General of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), Elhadj As Sy, has called on the European Union (EU) to increase its support to people affected by “forgotten” humanitarian crises. He also repeated his calls for governments to better ensure the protection of vulnerable migrants, and to recognize their right to safety and dignity.

Mr Sy made his comments during a high-level visit to Brussels where he met with Mr Martin Schulz, Mr Chrystos Stylianides and Mr Johannes Hahn, respectively the President of the European Parliament, the European Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management, and the European Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations. He was joined by Dr Werner Kerschbaum, Secretary General of the Austrian Red Cross and Chair of the Coordination Group of the Red Cross EU Office.

“The EU is a key partner of the Red Cross and Red Crescent around the world,” said Mr Sy. “We share a commitment to responding to the needs of the most vulnerable and hardest to reach. There are many situations today where communities are suffering in near silence, and where humanitarian organizations are unable to raise the resources they need to act effectively.

“Across southern Africa, millions are affected by severe drought and food insecurity. In the Lake Chad Basin, millions more are at risk from a combination of environmental degradation, deep poverty and violent unrest. In Latin America, our efforts to contain and mitigate the Zika Virus outbreak and support recovery after the Ecuador earthquake are constrained by a lack of funding. I call on our EU partners to increase support for these “forgotten” crises.”

Mr Sy and the EU officials also discussed the continued humanitarian response to vulnerable migrants in Europe, including in Greece where the Hellenic Red Cross, with the support of the IFRC and the EU, has supported more than 300,000 people, and in Turkey where the Turkish Red Crescent is working to support 500,000 people displaced by the conflict in Syria. Mr Sy reiterated his call for the wellbeing of migrants to be at the centre of all policies. “It is important that all policies recognize the right of people to be treated with dignity and respect, and take into account the specific needs of those most vulnerable,” he said.

Discussions also covered humanitarian response operations and collaboration in Syria and Libya, the need for improved support to neighbouring countries that are hosting millions of refugees, as well as the outcomes of last week’s World Humanitarian Summit.

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is the worlds largest volunteer-based humanitarian network, reaching 150 million people each year through its 190 member National Societies. Together, IFRC acts before, during and after disasters and health emergencies to meet the needs and improve the lives of vulnerable people. It does so with impartiality as to nationality, race, gender, religious beliefs, class and political opinions. For more information, please visit www.ifrc.org. You can also connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Flickr.

For further information, please contact:

In Brussels

Lavinia Baciu, communications officer, Red Cross/EU Office
E-mail: Lavinia.Baciu@redcross.eu ¦ Mobile: +32 4847 13778

In Budapest

Linda Low, Regional Communications Manager, Europe, IFRC
E-mail: linda.low@ifrc.org ¦ Mobile: +36 709 537 704

In Geneva

Benoit Carpentier, Team Leader – Public Communications, IFRC
E-mail: benoit.carpentier@ifrc.org ¦ Twitter: @BenoistC ¦ Mobile: +41 79 213 2413