Wednesday, December 12, 2007

World Volunteer Day: taking Red Cross and Red Crescent volunteers seriously

5 December 2007

Since 1999, when the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies adopted its Volunteering Policy, significant progress has been made in the creation and implementation of National Society volunteer management policies. A just-published report indicates that today, about half of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies have a national volunteer policy, while 43.5% have a volunteer development plan.

Initial assessments show that those which have adopted a volunteering policy demonstrate better recruitment and retention of volunteers. About half of the National Societies reported an increase in the number of volunteers over the past three years, 20% said the number had remained constant, and another 20% reported a drop. Nearly 60% of National Societies now have a volunteering database.

“It is essential that more resources are put in the recruitment, training, retention and recognition of our volunteers if we are to successfully carry out our humanitarian mission and our global commitments for the coming years,” stresses International Federation President Juan Manuel Suárez del Toro. “Volunteers and their unique reach into the communities, are at the heart of effective humanitarian assistance in emergencies and other crises. We must modernize our approach to volunteer management. It is encouraging to see the results Red Cross and Red Crescent volunteer management policies are producing.”

More than half of active Red Cross and Red Crescent volunteers are under 30 years old and many National Societies are testing new approaches to attract and retain volunteers, including recruitment and volunteering via the Internet. The Republic of Korea Red Cross, for example, has an Internet recruitment programme. The web page contains the users’ profiles, to make it easy to match people to tasks, and candidates are interviewed face-to-face by the nearest branch.

“Voluntary service is one of our Fundamental Principles and it is based on action which is not prompted in any manner by desire for gain. We must take sustainable measures to better support, train and guide our volunteers, to ensure we can pursue our global action to help millions of vulnerable people who count on us every year for vital assistance, because volunteer management requires time, effort, commitment and resources,” President Suárez del Toro underlined.

The Federation progress report, entitled “Taking volunteers seriously”, covers a series of issues linked to successful volunteering policies, including recruitment, retention, recognition, training, health and safety, involvement in decision-making, new forms of volunteering, networking and peer support, as well as suitable legislation to promote and support volunteering.

Since the UN declared 2001 the International Year of Volunteers, volunteer management practices have improved around the world, with many governments passing legislation to define and improve volunteer service. The International Federation has been working closely with several partners, including the United Nations Volunteers programme and the Inter-Parliamentary Union, to improve volunteer management around the world. On World Volunteer Day, Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies around the world honour the essential work of their volunteers.

For further information, or to set up interviews, please contact: Marie-Françoise Borel, Information Officer Tel. + 41 22 730 43 46 / + 41 79 217 33 45 Media Service Duty Phone Tel: + 41 79 416 38 81

Guadalcanal RC Branch Annual General Meeting

The Guadalcanal Red Cross branch will have its Annual General Meeting (AGM) this afternoon at the SIRC Conference room. The time scheduled for the meeting will be 2pm.

According to the branch advertisement earlier, all Guadalcanal branch board members, volunteers, members groups, SIRC staff, and general public are invited to join the sitting this afternooon.
The highlights of the AGM include financial reports of activities carried out in 2007, progress made, difficulties encountered in the previous year, and other matters of Red Cross interest.
AGM is a constitutional requirement of the SIRC that branches must have it at the end of each year. And the next similar AGM for Guadalcanal will be held at the end of 2008.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Red Cross honored volunteers during International Volunteers Day

Solomon Islands Red Cross honored volunteers when it joint the rest of the world to mark International Volunteers Day which celebrated annually on December 5.
In Auki, the SI Red Cross volunteers marked the day with awareness to public about the negative impacts HIV/AIDS could have on our communities and the country as a whole.
"There is no way the Red Cross can take short cuts without volunteers to spread the messages about HIV/AIDS in our communities. Our volunteers live in their communities, walking miles to do our jobs, and they will never leave their communities.
"We must honor those silent heroes for the wonderful services they provide to our vulnerable communities. In thanking our volunteers, the celebration and awareness of HIV/AIDS here in Auki are our way of honoring you", said Niniu Oligao of SIRC.
Volunteers form the foundation of this humanitarian organization. And SIRC looks upon its volunteers for motivation, aspiration, dedication and commitments to fuel its work in the Solomon Islands.

World AIDS Day in Auki was celebrated in colors

The late celebration of World AIDS Day last Friday in Auki was a successful story to tell. The march consisted of NGOs like World Vision, Save the Children, SIPPA, churches, Malaita medical unit, youth groups, the SI Red Cross, and general public started from Mobil Station area, went around the Auki Township and ended at the Market area where the official programme commenced.
In the official statement from the Medical director, Dr. Rex Moukera, HV/AIDS is not a story of overseas but the story of our country- particularly in Malaita. HIV/AIDS now is with us.
"People need to practice ABC method to fight HIV/AIDS. Young people should abstain from sex till marriage. When people married, be faithful to your partners. And if we cannot control our sexual behaviors then use condom", he said.
In the same address, Mr. Isaiah Tukuvaka (SI Red Cross Health officer) highlighted the different stages of HIV/AIDS from Window period to blown out AIDS the HIV positive people have to go through.
Relation to this, Niniu Oligao, the SI Red Cross Dissemination officer said, "In our societies now, HIV/AIDS is not separated from Discrimination and Stigma towards people living with HIV/AIDS.
"This is the time the real causes of the HIV/AIDS must not be swept under carpets. Communities must be reliably informed about this sickness and be ready to tackle the issues of discrimination and stigma against the HI/AIDS positive people.
"We should be responsible leaders to do this job of informing the people in the streets or rural areas correctly about HIV/AIDS".
Video and drama perfomances about HIV/AIDS concluded the celebration.
And celebration was based on the theme 'Leadership' with a slogan 'Take the lead. Stop AIDS. And keep the promise'.

Monday, December 3, 2007

SIRC farewells a disaster friend

Today afternoon the room was filled with local staff and volunteers said good bye to their seven months disaster operation friend, Mr. Steve Barton (International Federation of the Red Cross delegate) who will leave the country back to his families and loved ones in Australia for Christmas.
As a tradition of the local Red Cross to thank its 'helper friends', a small gather togehter freshment must be held to honor them. During the gatheirng of the staff and volunteers Ms Nancy Jolo, SIRC Deputy Secretary General assured Mr. Steve that it was not the last for him with the local humanitarian organization. But the SIRC team looked forward for his return sometimes to help the Solomon Islanders in his technical field of shelter.
Mr. Charles Kelly (SIRC Secretary General) told those people attended that Mr. Barton is a professional who performed and assisted to build the skills of the local Red Cross personnel and affected communities about how to deal with shelter in disaster affected communities.
From shelter assessments done by him on tsunami affected communities, Mr. Kelly commended, has been well received by stakeholders. It was impartial and neutral to follow in building recovery phase.
And Kelly thank him on behalf of the SIRC, its staff and volunteers, and the affected people of the tsunami hitted areas for his tireless efforts and professionalism.
In reply, Mr. Barton said, "I have wonderful experiences from the friendly people of this country which sunk me down to love the Solomon Islands and its people.
"I have learnt alot of new things from the SI Red Cross. I learnt to accept the locals opinions and skills when came to local approach for help and resources like timber. And they helped me alot as a particular person with a huge task on his shoulders".
Mr. Steve further registered his appreciation and thanks to Mr. Sipuru Rove (Gizo Red Cross Branch field officer) and his committed volunteers for their support and wonderful contributions in the shelter recovery operation.
"Sipuru knows more about the local environmental setting. It's one of the best thing I experienced, that is to accept such local knowledge", he said.
Mr. Steve has been in the country as the Shelter delegation of the IFRC for the last seven months.

Federation President signs new pledges

IFRCRCS (Geneva)- During the 30th International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent in Geneva, the Federation’s President, Juan Manuel Suárez del Toro Rivero, signed a pledge to commit National Societies to the prevention of abuse by its staff and volunteers, and by those working on their behalf.

“The Federation unequivocally condemns all forms of abuse and recognizes the extreme levels of suffering that can result from it,” Mr Suárez del Toro said. “That is why we have adopted a ‘zero tolerance’ approach to abuse, including towards sexual exploitation.”

Red Cross and Red Crescent staff and volunteers are in positions of trust and have a special responsibility to create and maintain safe environments in the workplace and amongst those it helps.

Mr Suárez del Toro also signed a new pledge to strengthen the quality and quantity of National Societies’ young volunteers, and to encourage them to actively address the humanitarian challenges facing vulnerable people.

The pledge commits the Federation to a global youth event in 2009 that will contribute to and channel young people’s motivation, energy and idealism in areas like HIV and AIDS, the prevention of alcohol and drug abuse, respect for diversity and inter-religious dialogue.

Red Cross and Red Crescent Conference rallies international community to tackle humanitarian challenges

30 November 2007

The 30th International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent ended with a commitment from some 1,500 representatives of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, and of States party to the Geneva Conventions to stronger collaborative humanitarian action. Delegates agreed a collective response was required to tackle the humanitarian consequences of four great challenges as each one of them exceeded the coping capacity of individual States or single organizations.

Environmental degradation and climate change
In order to best protect the most vulnerable from the consequences of more frequent and more severe disasters and the results of environmental degradation and climate change – and in order to assist them effectively, community action as well as disaster preparedness and risk reduction measures will be stepped up.

International Migration
In countries of origin, transit and destination, the essential priority will remain, for the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, to assist people made vulnerable by migration, and human trafficking and exploitation in particular, whatever their legal status. The commitment includes not only material help, but also advocacy to combat discrimination against migrants and promote respect for human dignity.

Violence, in particular in urban settings
The role of States is central in the protection and care for populations exposed to violence. But all parties agreed united and community-based comprehensive efforts were essential to prevent, defuse and mitigate violence, especially to assist young people affected by violence.

Emergent and recurrent diseases and other public health challenges
The growing threat of HIV, tuberculosis and malaria, among other public health challenges, must be met by strengthening health systems and developing national health plans, especially at the community level, where the preventive and caring action of Red Cross and Red Crescent volunteers are most effective.

Noting the complexity of these humanitarian threats, Juan Manuel Suárez del Toro, President of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies said: "These challenges are closely interrelated, and cannot be addressed without meaningful cooperation between governments, the Red Cross Red Crescent Movement and other partners.”

Organized under the theme “Together for Humanity”, the five-day meeting also adopted several resolutions.

A first resolution sought to clarify the nature of the unique relationship between National Societies and their government. They act as official auxiliaries to public authorities in the field of humanitarian action, including dissemination of International Humanitarian Law (IHL), disaster preparedness and relief, health and care. The resolution stated that this role does not extend to all activities of the National Society, which must be free to fulfill its mandate, and has a right to refuse action conflicting with the Movement’s Fundamental Principles.

A second resolution on IHL, reaffirming, among other points, the continued relevance and applicability of IHL’s fundamental guarantees of protection for people, irrespective of their status, in both international and non-international armed conflicts, was also adopted. “I am pleased to see that the International Conference, once more, stressed the importance of IHL and the fact that it remains relevant in armed conflicts today, by adopting a resolution to that effect,” said Jakob Kellenberger, President of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

The adoption of the resolution concerning the “Guidelines for the domestic facilitation and regulation of international disaster relief and initial recovery assistance” is considered an historic step to help governments achieve essential legal preparedness for disasters. The guidelines will allow them to solve legal problems before disaster strikes, instead of addressing them in the chaos following a crisis to ensure aid reaches victims more quickly and effectively.

Conference President Mandisa Kalako-Williams pointed to the importance of community action for effective results. “Our response to these challenges must begin at the local level if it is to be successful and sustainable. Our work can – and it already does – build vital resilience at the community level. This is where the complementarity between humanitarian actors can truly express the meaning and the concrete impact of the Movement’s new slogan, Together for Humanity”. The Movement is made up of the International Committee of the Red Cross, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and 186 National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.

The Movement’s highest deliberative body, the International Conference meets every four years and sets the Movement’s humanitarian agenda for the next four years.

For further information, or to set up interviews, please contact: Carla Haddad, deputy head of media relations, ICRC
Tel: + 41 79 217 3226
Pierre Kremer, head of media unit, International Federation Tel: + 41 79 226 4832
IFRC Media Service duty phone Tel: + 41 79 416 3881

Ten years on, mine-ban treaty marks progress but still faces major challenges

Press release
30th Nov. 2007
Geneva (ICRC) – Much progress has been made in the past decade towards eradicating anti-personnel mines worldwide, but the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) views the 10th anniversary of the Convention on the Prohibition of Anti-personnel Mines (Ottawa Convention), on 3 December, as a time when States should pause to reflect on the major challenges that remain.
Palau became the latest Pacific state to sign the Ottawa Convention on November 18 this year joining Fiji, Australia, New Zealand, Cook Islands,Kiribati, Nauru, Niue, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu.
The recent Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in Kampala, Uganda also urged its members to accede to the Convention and implement their respective obligations.
"The Ottawa Convention has in many respects been remarkably successful", says Philip Spoerri, the ICRC's director for international law. "The treaty today has 156 States Parties. Of the 50 States that at one time produced these mines, 34 are now parties to the Convention. The States bound by it have so far destroyed almost 42 million anti-personnel mines. The list of achievements goes on, and is quite impressive.
"However, much remains to be done. "Thirty-nine States have yet to ratify the Convention. And all those that have ratified it need to fulfil thelong-term promises they made to landmine victims, including the obligationto clear mines and allocate greater resources to health-care and assistance programmes. "
The ICRC, for its part, assists the victims of landmines and other explosive remnants of war by supporting emergency and long-term care and physical rehabilitation. It also promotes preventive measures such asfacilitating safe access to food, water and other vital necessities.
In Afghanistan, for example, the ICRC's orthopaedic programme has benefited nearly 80,000 disabled people over the past two decades, with amputees accounting for about half that number. "Even if starting today there werenot a single new mine accident in Afghanistan. We would have work to do here for the next 40 years looking after the tens of thousands of existingmine victims."
Three Fiji soldiers serving with the United Nations in Lebanon were also injured when a landmine exploded under their armoured vehicle in September,1999.
"Moreover, landmines are only one type of weapon that go on killing after conflicts. The human cost of cluster munitions in particular, which are notoriously inaccurate and unreliable weapons, is an issue of pressing concern that requires urgent international action."
"On the tenth anniversary of the Convention prohibiting anti-personnel mines it is timely for States to look soberly at the deadly legacy of all weapons that go on killing after conflicts, and to make a genuine commitment towards ending that legacy.
For further information, please contact:
Serge Marmy, Communications Coordinator
International Committee of the Red Cross, Suva
6th floor, Pacific House
Ph: 3302156/9921157 Email: com.suv@icrc.org or visit our website: www.icrc.org