IFRC President reiterates support for Red Crescent Society during official visit to Tehran

Publié: 21 avril 2013 14:35 CET

The President of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), President Tadateru Konoé has held talks with Dr Abolhasan Faghih, President of the Red Crescent Society of the Islamic Republic of Iran (IRCS). Dr Faghih received Mr Konoé at the society’s headquarters during the President's three-day visit to the Iranian capital Tehran, where he will attend the  8th Conference of the Middle East and North Africa Zone.

Visiting Iran for the first time in 10 years, Mr Konoé said he was excited and curious to be back in the country, and that he looked forward to strengthening the important relationship between the IFRC and the IRCS.  "It is a great honour to be back in Tehran to renew our contact with our colleagues from the Iranian Red Crescent," said Mr Konoé.  Expressing his sympathy for all those affected in the recent earthquakes, Mr Konoé praised the quick response of the IRCS staff and volunteers deployed to the earthquake zone. "As has been demonstrated this week, the expertise of the IRCS to quickly respond to earthquakes and bring relief to those in need is exceptional and highly respected throughout the Red Cross Red Crescent Movement,” he said. "The IRCS experience in both national and international relief operations continues to serve as an example for many National Societies."

Meeting for the third time, the two Presidents discussed a variety of issues including disaster risk reduction, disaster preparedness and the potential to exchange experiences in the area of nuclear power plant accidents. Dr Faghih stressed the importance of improving cooperation and coordination between all components of the Red Cross Red Crescent Movement. "Developing closer coordination between the National Societies is very important,” he said. He welcomed Mr Konoe's assurance that Movement coordination would be discussed at the forthcoming General Assembly and Council of Delegates.

"It is critical that the Red Cross Red Crescent works as one Movement, in line with our Fundamental Principles, to better help the people we serve," Mr Konoé said.

Dr Fagihi also raised the issue of volunteers and the importance in increasing rates of recruitment and motivation. "The retention of volunteers is a global challenge,” he said. "In Iran our youth volunteer base, which numbers 2.5 million, is increasing which is a positive trend but we need to find ways to keep them engaged and motivated from a young age," he said.

Both Presidents agreed that the Middle East region was characterised by the energy, passion and humanitarian excellence of its young members and volunteers.

Given the shared experiences of Japan and Iran in disaster response, Mr Konoe thanked Dr Faghih for the support and contributions offered by the IRCS during the 2011 Japan earthquake and tsunami. In the same vein Dr Faghih expressed his gratitude for the assistance provided by the Japan Red Cross Society and other National Societies during the 2003 Bam earthquake and last year's quake in East Azerbaijan. "Showing support and solidarity with a National Society during a time of crisis is our natural duty," said Dr Faghih. “We are ready to play an active role as a member of the federation. You can rely on us to assist with support and cooperation wherever it is needed."

Following the meeting, Presidents Konoé and Faghih attended a press conference where journalists from the national Iranian press had the opportunity ask Mr Konoé about the relationship between the organizations and the humanitarian issues facing the region. Mr Konoé praised the IRCS describing it as one of the strongest  National Societies when it comes to disaster response and preparedness. He also reminded the media of the importance of remembering the slow onset ‘silent disasters which often got limited attention.

Together with the presence of more than 40 National Societies, representatives from international organisations and officials in Tehran, Presidents Konoé and Faghih will inaugurate the opening ceremony of the 8th MENA conference that will run for the next three days under the theme ‘Partnership for Humanity’.