IFRC calls for greater cooperation in responding to humanitarian needs of migrants, enhanced support to host communities

Published: 20 September 2015

Belgrade/Geneva, 20 September 2015 – As thousands of migrants adapt their movements to changing border closures, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) appeals for swift action to enable vulnerable migrants to reach safe destinations, and to be treated with dignity.

Speaking from Kanjiza where 90,000 people crossed recently near Serbia’s border with Hungary – now only a few dozen remain – IFRC Secretary General Elhadj As Sy expressed thanks to the community: “Local people have expressed their humanity, by sharing what little they have, we in turn must include the needs of host communities in our humanitarian response. This is an expression of our shared humanity.”

Mr Sy stressed further: “Vulnerable people will migrate no matter the barriers they face. They are risking their lives seeking safety, fleeing by sea and walking miles that no shoes can bare. Here they are trapped between closed borders holding onto every thin sign of hope. It is our collective responsibility to protect them and preserve what is dearest to them, their human dignity.”


Twenty-five thousand people arrived into Serbia in the past seven days. 123,000 people have arrived since January. The Red Cross of Serbia is providing essential food and hygiene items, first aid and clothing in reception centres and other places of transit across the country.

At a meeting with the Republic of Serbia’s Minister of Labour, Employment, Veteran and Social Affairs, H.E. Aleksandar Vulin, and Secretary General of the Red Cross of Serbia Mrs. Vesna Milenovic, Mr Sy reiterated the IFRC’s commitment to supporting efforts to scale-up the humanitarian response. The IFRC has issued an emergency appeal for 2 million Swiss francs to support the Red Cross of Serbia in assisting 314,000 vulnerable migrants over seven months.

The Red Cross and Red Crescent has launched a call to make universal the responsibility to protect vulnerable people and to respect their dignity in any place, under any circumstances, regardless of their legal status: Sign the petition at www.ifrc.org/protecthumanity. Help make the responsibility to #ProtectHumanity  universal.

For further information, please contact:

In Budapest:

  • Linda Low, communications coordinator, IFRC Europe

E-mail: linda.low@ifrc.org ¦ Twitter: @linda_low ¦ Mobile: +36 709537704

  • Stephen Ryan, spokesperson, IFRC Europe

E-mail: stephen.ryan@ifrc.org ¦ Twitter: @stiofanoriain ¦ Mobile: +36 70 430 6500

In Geneva:

▪       Benoit Carpentier, team leader public communications, IFRC

E-mail: benoit.carpentier@ifrc.org ¦ Twitter: @BenoistC ¦ Mobile: +41 79 213 2413

▪       Reeni Amin Chua, public communications, IFRC

E-mail: reeni.aminchua@ifrc.org ¦ Twitter: @reeniac ¦ Mob: +41 79 708 6273