Tadateru Konoé and Peter Maurer
Date: Sunday, 7 May, 2017

President of IFRC Tadateru Konoé and President of ICRC Peter Maurer

Across the world, crises are increasingly complex and humanitarian need is vast. More and more lives are being destroyed by armed conflict, violence, and climate change;  and when natural disasters strike, they are more severe and numerous.

The complex new dynamics at play during natural disasters, conflict and violence means the work of our Red Cross and Red Crescent volunteers and staff is more important than ever.

Today, on World Red Cross and Red Crescent Day, 8 May, we recognize the incredible contribution and achievements of the millions of volunteers and staff around the world who keep our commitment to humanity every day.

As Presidents, we see the incredible impact that Red Cross and Red Crescent workers from around the world are making in communities large and small every day. And we are humbled.

From Syria to Somalia and Nepal to Nigeria we see just how brave our people are, often putting their own lives in danger to help people in need , and sometimes making the ultimate sacrifice in the line of their humanitarian duties. We are proud and grateful for their life-saving and life-changing work, even under the most dangerous and difficult of circumstances, and for the difference they are making around the world.

Since the days of our founder Henry Dunant, the history of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement has been one of partnership. The intractable humanitarian issues our world faces will not be solved only by organizations. They will also be solved by people who come together fueled by a determination and passion to alleviate human suffering. This is the Movement. This is you.

Red Cross and Red Crescent volunteers and staff  walk the last mile to ensure that no one is left behind. They accompany people in making the first mile in their recovery. Their role is critical in providing urgent life-saving assistance, as well as in working with communities to help them recover, to be safer, stronger and more resilient to future crises.

In places of conflict and disaster, our volunteers and staff are adapting, finding creative and innovative ways to reach people in need and help them in the face of these challenges.

Our volunteers and staff use local solutions to meet the needs of vulnerable people, whoever they may be, wherever they may be, and whatever they may need. They are truly grounded in the local community – they live there, work there, understand the culture, languages and needs, and are best placed to develop local solutions with support from the global Red Cross and Red Crescent membership.

We have seen Red Cross and Red Crescent staff and volunteers running a snake farm to educate the public about snakes and milk anti-venom to treat snake bites; we have seen them forming wheelchair basketball teams to give landmine victims a sense of purpose and community; and we have seen them using therapy dogs to bring comfort and smiles to marginalized, socially excluded, and lonely people. Of course, they also work in the areas that we have come to count on: first aid, ambulance services, blood donation and emergency services.

To each of our volunteers and staff: without you, the Movement could not make such a huge difference in people’s lives around the world. World Red Cross and Red Crescent Day is your day – and we say congratulations and thank you.

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Mr Tadateru Konoé is president of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and Mr Peter Maurer is president of the International Committee of the Red Cross.