By Soraya Dali-Balta, IFRC
For the past weeks, the volunteers and staff of the Yemen Red Crescent Society have been carrying out a very tough humanitarian mission as their country continues to suffer deadly and destructive acts of violence. The volunteers have been braving a critical security situation to save lives, retrieve bodies, transport the wounded to hospitals, and provide life-saving support.
But despite the unrest and the pressing humanitarian needs, the Yemeni National Society was keen on marking the World Red Cross and Red Crescent Day, which is celebrated internationally on 8 May every year. On the occasion, the Yemen Red Crescent Society launched a series of activities focusing on paying tribute to the sacrifices of the organisation’s volunteers who lost their lives while on duty, and on recognizing the efforts of all of those who contributed to the National Society. The plan of activities includes erecting a sculpture to celebrate the achievements of humanitarian workers, restoring the graves of humanitarian workers and marking them with the Red Crescent emblem, visiting the families of volunteers who died on duty, and holding a permanent photo exhibition covering the National Society’s work at the Yemen Red Crescent Society’s headquarters and at all branches. The organisation will also develop and launch a mobile application featuring the profiles of its volunteers and staff. The planned activities also include publishing short stories on the volunteers’ experiences and promoting them to make their efforts and sacrifices known to the world. In addition, the Yemen Red Crescent Society plans to honour the volunteers, the staff and the founders of the organisation as well as all humanitarian workers contributing to its efforts with medals.
The activities of the National Society are also interested in highlighting the work of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement as a whole, and for this purpose, the Yemen Red Crescent Society will print brochures and posters to introduce the World Red Cross and Red Crescent Day and will produce short videos about the Movement and its work. Intellectual games about May 8 Day will also be produced and promoted on several local media channels. Meanwhile, other videos will introduce First Aid procedures, safe behaviours, psycho-social support and personal hygiene, among different topics, to the public.
On the other hand, the National Society will work on unifying the outfits worn by the volunteers and on providing them with fully-equipped First Aid kits, in addition to several safety tools that would protect them while on duty.
Despite the challenges caused by the deteriorating security situation and the resulting increase in dependency on humanitarian services, and despite the losses it has suffered so far, the Yemen Red Crescent Society insists on marking the World Red Cross and Red Crescent Day and on celebrating the achievements of its volunteers and staff. During the latest humanitarian intervention in different regions in the country, three Yemen Red Crescent Society lost their lives while trying to save civilians affected by the fighting, while several others were injured as a result of the violence. The National Society has also suffered some material damage as one of its ambulances came under fire and another was involved in a traffic accident while on duty. The Aden branch of the National Society also suffered damages because of the fighting in the city.