Friday, May 7, 2010

May 8, is International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement Day

Photo found on this site here

The Red Cross and Red Crescent is marking 8 May, World Red Cross and Red Crescent Day, by focusing attention on both the challenges and opportunities presented by urbanization.

Urban dwellers already make up half of the world’s population and there number is set to rise rapidly over the next decades. There is much that is positive about this process. For many people, moving to the city means having a better job and better services. But for millions city life also stands for violence, poverty, pollution and increased vulnerability. An estimated one billion people live in slums or other sub-standard housing.

For the first time, more than 50 per cent of the world’s population is living in urban areas, a figure that is forecast to rise to more than 60 per cent in 2030. Cities in the developing world are expected to account for 95 per cent of urban growth over the next two decades.

Violence, poverty, food shortages, insufficient health care, inadequate access to water and sanitation and escalating human vulnerability are among the many challenges facing people in cities and other densely populated areas around the globe. Yet the urban way of life also presents enormous opportunities and can serve as an engine of social inclusion, cultural expression, diversity and economic growth.

Around the world, National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies are working with city leaders and civil society to address urban challenges by aiming at their root causes. They focus on promoting diversity, opposing discrimination, and joining in efforts to provide decent social services and to ensure that adequate protection, preventive health-care, education and disaster risk reduction measures are taken. Red Cross Red Crescent volunteers are at the heart of the Movement’s endeavours to strengthen urban communities.

Here is an exceptional tribute by a Pakistani news service. Apologies that I can't find the original source to give credit yet. Nevertheless, here it is.

Today, May 8, is International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement Day. Founded in 1863 the Red Cross – and later the Red Crescent founded in 1877 – have become universal symbols for non-partisan humanitarian relief and aid. Worldwide, there are over 97 million volunteers that support the work that goes on in almost every country. The ICRC has been active in Pakistan since Partition when it was in the thick of the massive refugee crisis of 1947, the wars of 1948, 1965 and 1971 and virtually every other mass-casualty incident in our history. ICRC delegates monitor the condition of Pakistani nationals in Guantanamo Bay and Bagram in Afghanistan; and pass Red Cross messages between detainees and their families, often as the only form of communication they have. Today, the civilian population is at risk like it never was, and the various arms of the Red Cross and the Red Crescent have themselves become the subject of attack in Kohat and Quetta, yet they continue to serve the humanitarian imperative.

In the first three months of this year alone the Pakistan Red Cross and Red Crescent distributed food to 350,000 people in Bannu, Hangu, Khyber and Kohistan where they brought relief to avalanche victims. Support was given to our hospitals through the Ministry of Health and to basic health units across the entire area currently suffering conflict and upheaval. The ICRC has held awareness sessions for around 20,000 IDPs on the dangers posed by unexploded weapons/munitions and distributed food to IDPs living with host families in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa. The list of interventions made by the Red Cross and Crescent in Pakistan could fill pages of newsprint and still not do justice to the efforts they make on our behalf.

We note the remarks of Donna Chanda, the ICRC's Movement Coordinator in Islamabad: "The partnership between the ICRC and the PRCS in Pakistan adds another dimension to what we can achieve on behalf of victims… by working together we are much stronger than the sum of the parts of the Movement. On this Movement day, know that we remain fully committed to our work in favour of the victims of the fighting in Pakistan." We have much to thank Cross and Crescent for and we look forward to their sustained support for years to come. They are an asset that we need to protect, perhaps a little better than we do currently.

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