IFRC Secretary General commends humanitarian role of the Korean National Red Cross at 110th anniversary

Publié: 30 octobre 2015 4:02 CET

By Hler Gudjonsson, IFRC

This week, Elhadj As Sy, Secretary General of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), attended the 110th anniversary celebration of the founding of the Korean National Red Cross in the capital city Seoul. He was awarded the Grand Order of Taeguk, one of the highest awards which can be bestowed by the Korean  National Red Cross.

During his congratulatory speech, Mr. Sy called attention not only to the achievements of the National Society within Korea and its important humanitarian role, but also its strong contributions to international relief.

“Your generosity and commitment in the wake of major disasters - the Nepal earthquake, Typhoon Haiyan, the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, and the earthquake in Haiti to name just a few examples – have earned you a global reputation for professionalism, care and commitment,” he said.

The Secretary General reflected on the leading role of the Korean National Red Cross in addressing the ongoing humanitarian consequences of the Korean War.

“For separated families, the Red Cross is the only link to their relatives in the north,” he stated during the event.

He stressed the importance of ensuring that all members of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement respond to the most pressing humanitarian needs at all times.

“On this count the Korean National Red Cross should be proud of what it has achieved and be confident of where it is going. Your resilience, creativity and success is seen in your ability to respond to the most pressing needs of vulnerable communities,” he said, calling attention to the unique role of the Movement as a network of community-based organizations.

The Korean National Red Cross was founded on 27 October in 1905, and evolved into a leading humanitarian organization, playing an important role in helping people affected by the Korean War and responding to recent disasters such as MERS and the Sewol ferry incident. The national society also provides social and health services in the country. Today the Korean National Red Cross has 3,300 staff and 400,000 volunteers, including about 240,000 youth members. Over 90% of total blood donations in the country are collected by the Red Cross.

During his visit to Korea, Mr. Sy also met with the Deputy Minister, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Vice Minister of Unification, and the Vice President of the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA).  He also gave lectures at Seoul National University and the State University of New York (SUNY) on the International Red Cross Red Crescent Movement‘s humanitarian action in a changing humanitarian landscape and encouraged students to participate in the humanitarian action “as citizens who care”.