The 10th European Regional Conference of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies has opened in Almaty, bringing together humanitarian leaders from Europe and Central Asia.

The summit, hosted by Kazakhstan Red Crescent, began on 2 May in Almaty with migration, building community resilience and empowering youth volunteers in focus on day one.

International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) President, Dr Francesco Rocca, told the conference: “We in the Red Cross and Red Crescent need to continually explore the best ways of engaging with youth. We have an amazing opportunity here to engage our young people in a dialogue and we must take that opportunity.”

This is the first regional gathering of this kind since the start of the migration crisis in Europe in 2015. National Societies have been at the forefront of the continental humanitarian response. The meeting also takes place as UN Member States continue negotiations on a Global Compact on Migration.

IFRC Vice-President for Europe, Dr Kerem Kinik, said: “Today, humanity is experiencing and witnessing the unbearable results of brutality and atrocities in conflicts across the world.
“Humanitarian crises those in Libya, Ukraine, Myanmar, Nigeria and Somalia force people to flee their homes in search of safety in other places – including Europe. But Dr Kinik also highlighted Europe’s other broad humanitarian issues including natural disasters and social vulnerabilities.
“Given the enormous amount of needs and their diversity, the Red Cross and Red Crescent must do more in response to disasters and complex crises to deliver in proportion to our strength,” he said.

Between 2-4 May, the conference will look specifically at the often unrecognized vulnerability of so-called “labour migrants”. People moving across Central Asia and Europe in search of work are extremely vulnerable to exploitation and face poor living conditions and heightened exposure to serious health risks including tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS.

Social inclusion is also a major topic. Rising anti-immigration sentiment across Europe represents a major humanitarian concern. Building community cohesion and encouraging greater solidarity are increasingly important areas of focus for the Red Cross and Red Crescent on the continent. This issue will be explored as National Societies look to further expand their work in this area in the coming years.

The closure of the conference will see Red Cross and Red Crescents in Europe announce a plan of action to increase support to vulnerable people and set priorities for the next four years.