Palestine Red Crescent Society partnership meeting

Publié: 27 février 2015

Palestine Red Crescent  Society partnership meeting

February 25th-26 th,2015

Beirut, Lebanon

IFRC Vice-President Francesco Rocca


Dear leaders of and colleagues from Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and the ICRC,

Dear partners,

Dear friends

I am honoured to take the floor at the important meeting as IFRC Vice President. In this critical moment for the region, it is so important to discuss and reflect on our collective efforts in response to the Syria crisis. And it is critical to pay tribute to – and support – the outstanding humanitarian work carried out by the Palestine Red Crescent Society in the face of this crisis, in close cooperation with the National Societies in the region, especially in Lebanon and Syria, with partner National Societies from outside the region, and with the IFRC and ICRC.

I’m humbled by the lifesaving role played by both staff and volunteers across the region, and I am mindful of the extreme conditions you have faced, over the past years, to support the people affected by the Syria crisis. Let us not forget the members of the Syrian Arab Red Crescent and the Palestine Red Crescent Society who lost their lives while providing assistance to people in need as well as all humanitarians around the world who died while on duty. Let us take a moment here to remember them.

We are moving into the fifth year of this operation and yet we face a crisis that has further deteriorated. More than 12 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance, with more than half of the pre-crisis Syrian population of 21.5 million displaced either internally or as refugees in the neighbouring countries, such as Lebanon. This is a significant increase from just 1 million who were in need in 2012.

Our relief assistance has tripled. We must reaffirm here today that our collective support will not waver. All aspects of everyday life have been affected, resulting in multiple cycles of displacements, pressure on basic social and health services, decreased access to food and water, and livelihoods at stake.

Response of the Palestine Red Crescent Society:

The Palestine Red Crescent Society has long supported Palestinian refugees in neighbouring countries, with branches in both Lebanon and Syria. Its humanitarian assistance has significantly increased in proportion to growing needs from the displaced population inside and outside Syria. All these efforts were made possible due to the great cooperation and working relationship between the society, Lebanese Red Cross and SARC.


For more than 70 years, 450,000 Palestinians have lived in Lebanon in 12 camps. They have been supported by the Palestine Red Crescent Society Lebanon branch since 1969 with health and social services, that they would not otherwise receive since they have no access to the health insurance system. The society’s centres and hospitals have always been a landmark for Palestinians in Lebanon, but now they are a safe haven for Syrian refugees as well.

What we saw yesterday during our field visit in Bourj el,Barajneh Camp and Hamshary Saida Hospital demonstrated the impressive job carried out by the society on a daily basis, and its efforts to provide not only assistance but also dignity to people in need.

I would like to express my gratitude to the Palestine Red Crescent Society for allowing me to witness – and having a first hand experience of – what hundreds of thousands of Palestinians have to endure in the aforementioned camps as well as in the others here in Lebanon.

Through the five hospitals, community and health centres and branches run by the Palestine Red Crescent Society, volunteers and staff are continuously supporting refugees in a situation where needs are enormous.

In July 2012, there were a total of 159,000 Syrian refugees in Lebanon. In January this year, they were 1.1 million registered refugees, 53 per cent of whom are under 18 years of age.

Yesterday it was raining and, fortunately, winter season is coming to its end. We could see some of the many problems refugees have to face every day during winter such as rain, snow, mud, and floods; not to mention infrastructure gaps in terms of access to electricity, water and sanitation services.

Looking back to yesterday’s visit, building on the emotions I felt and the knowledge I gathered, I tried to put myself into the shoes of Palestinian refugees, and felt empathy for their frustration, anger, sense of loneliness, but also their hope that one day their right to be back home will be fulfilled.

In the winter months alone, the Palestine Red Crescent Society has focused on the distribution of goods to improve heating and eating for thousands of families. The Red Crescent staff and volunteers are well-known as they are running Community Based Health and First Aid programmes providing health support and psychosocial services.

The Lebanon Branch and the Lebanese Red Cross are able to undertake these activities thanks to well established cooperation with Movement partners which include German Danish, Norwegian, Netherlands, British, Spanish, Swiss and Swedish Red Cross societies and the ICRC and IFRC.

It is through partnership that they are able to provide support and services in Syria as well.


A community of 400,000 refugees from Palestine are living in Syria in addition to several thousand who are not officially registered. Accessing camps to provide humanitarian aid has proved difficult and dangerous.

The Palestine Red Crescent Society branch in Syria is located at Yarmouk camp in Damascus city and runs three hospitals, the Palestine hospital in Yarmouk Camp, Bissan Hospital in Homs and Yafa Hospital in Mazzeh near Damascus. Yarmouk camp has become the byword to talk about desperation, hunger, suffering. Staff and volunteers risk their lives every day in the face of violence, and uncertainty in order to help the population.

The economic situation of the refugees is precarious, and their coping mechanisms deeply altered. The Palestinian refugees living in Syria are receiving medical assistance from the Palestine Red Crescent Society and UNRWA; however, Red Crescent hospitals lack basic equipment in spite of the high number of admissions.

In January and February 2014, several neighbourhoods in the outskirts of Damascus entered into local ceasefires, enabling humanitarian assistance to reach the people living inside. Many of these neighbourhoods had been cut off from any assistance for a year or more. SARC managed to have access to distribute relief items and provide health care through mobile health units inside Barzeh, Babila, Yalda and Beit Sahem. Assistance reached Moadamiya and evacuations of vulnerable individuals was carried out from Yarmouk refugee camp in cooperation with the Palestine Red Crescent Society.

In coordination with the Palestine Red Crescent Society and SARC, ICRC began delivering urgently needed chronic disease medicine for people living in Yarmouk camp, in October 2014, as well as food, hygiene items and water purification.


Greater access is a sign of progress. However, the future remains a concern for the Palestinian refugees in Syria, and at the same time, an increased refugee population in Lebanon is taxing on the capacity of the National Red Crescent Society. Humanitarian aid needs to be consistent and meet the needs of the camps including food, water and health care, especially during the winter months. We will continue to meet these needs by partnering together as Red Cross and Red Crescent societies, by making a commitment to respond to the appeals of our sister societies in need.

With regards to the magnitude of the humanitarian needs of Palestinian refugees, and considering the long hardship they faced, I strongly believe we have a collective duty to stand by these families in support of the Palestinian Red Crescent Society.

We have a collective duty to meet their humanitarian needs for as long as it takes, and to ensure internal and external mobilization to do so.

We have the collective duty to ensure that our emblems not only epitomize life-saving services to the vulnerable, but also bring about hope for all those who suffered during this crisis

We will keep on supporting the Palestinian Red Crescent Society not only in providing funds but in showing – as usual – our closeness and deep respect for the invaluable job already done in Lebanon, Gaza, West Bank and Syria through its headquarters and branches, and for what it will do in the future. Your example is reason to be proud for our International Movement.

As a final word, I would like to commend Dr Younis Al-Khatib for his outstanding and tireless leadership in support of the Palestinian people, the most at risk and the most vulnerable, under extreme circumstances and conditions.

I also want to commend the unwavering solidarity expressed by the National Societies in the region, in particular SARC and the Lebanese Red Cross, to support Palestine Red Crescent Society and Palestinian refugees while responding to wide-ranging and unprecedented humanitarian challenges in their country.

And I thank you – all partner National Societies and participants who attended this meeting – and commit to make us stronger together in the face of adversity.

Thank you again for gathering here today and inviting me to share this time with you as you reflect on the critical work you do. I am committed, on behalf of President Konoé and IFRC Governing Board members, to strengthen our cooperation and collectively rise to the humanitarian challenges through effective support and continued solidarity.

Thank you.