IFRC calls for greater innovation in tackling escalating humanitarian challenges in Asia Pacific

Publié: 22 octobre 2014 14:35 CET

By Patrick Fuller, IFRC

The Asia Pacific Regional Conference of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) began today in Beijing, bringing together over 250 senior representatives from the IFRC Secretariat with member National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies from 49 countries from across the Middle East and Asia Pacific, who will be discussing new ways to tackle humanitarian priorities in the region.

In an impassioned opening address, the IFRC’s President Tadateru Konoé said: “Despite the challenges we face, our long-standing tradition of solidarity and unity enables us to deliver services where others cannot go, and to excel in face of the increasing competition for humanitarian space.”

President Konoé highlighted the need for greater protection for volunteers working on the frontlines of conflicts in the Middle East and paid tribute to the 48 Red Crescent members who have been killed in the line of duty over the past year. “It is simply unacceptable that a growing number of people are losing their lives while trying to save lives,” he said.

The theme for this year’s conference is, ‘Inspiring Innovation in Asia Pacific in a new era of influence and action’. Plenary sessions and working groups will explore how the IFRC can adapt to today’s humanitarian challenges by developing innovative approaches towards meeting the needs of vulnerable communities.

Participants will discuss how to influence the processes that will shape the Post-2015 global humanitarian and development agendas. There will be debate around how to how to build on the IFRC’s ‘community resilience’ agenda by integrating programmes in health and disaster risk reduction while maximising the Movement’s contribution to sustainable development.

As governments and the private sector play an increasing role in humanitarian work there will also be discussion around the need to develop new partnerships; how to improve disaster management cooperation and coordination, with external actors such as the military; and how to capitalize on opportunities to use mobile technology to improve engagement and services for ‘at-risk’ communities.

In his opening address, State Councillor and Director of China’s National Commission for Disaster Reduction, Wang Yong, said that today’s world is undergoing complex and profound changes and that the themes of peace and development coexist with elements of instability where intertwined tensions and conflicts intensify the difficulties of humanitarian work.

“The humanitarian cause is a common undertaking of humankind. Transcending boundaries, races and beliefs, the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement is not merely a spirit but a flag guiding humanitarian actions around the world,” said Mr Yong.

The 9th Asia Pacific Conference is hosted by the Red Cross Society of China who have been playing an increasingly active role in delivering international humanitarian assistance in the wake of recent disasters such as Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines, the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan, and the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami.

“The Asia Pacific region is one of the fastest growing economies, and also happens to be the most densely populated and disaster-prone area in the world,” said Hua Jianmin, President of the Red Cross Society of China. “The region has been facing a number of mega-natural disasters, but China is a neighbor of all Asia Pacific National Societies and we must all join together to overcome such difficulties.”

After three days of discussion, the Conference will result in the ‘Beijing Declaration’, which will guide the IFRC’s future priorities in the Asia Pacific region.