Your Excellency, Mr Faisal Elfayez (speaker of the Jordanian Senate)
Your Excellency, Dr Al-Hadid,
Excellences, colleagues, friends, ladies and gentlemen,
It is a great pleasure to join you here this evening for the opening of the 9thMENA Conference. On behalf of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, I would like to thank and congratulate the Jordan National Red Crescent Society for its hospitality and for hosting this Conference. I would also like to thank the Government of Jordan for their support, which is greatly appreciated and reflects the deep and longstanding partnership between Jordan and the Red Crescent and Red Cross.
Before I start, I cannot help but remember our brother Dr Cheniti, the Secretary General of the Tunisian Red Crescent, who passed away recently. We started working together in 1973 for the flood operation in Tunisia when we were much younger. He was already a very thoughtful man and respected by many. Since 2009 when I had started my first term of our Federation President, Dr Cheniti has been a member of our Governing Board, continuing to render his wisdom. We will miss him greatly.
There is certainly no more fitting a setting for a humanitarian gathering than this region. We are all familiar with the scope and severity of humanitarian need in the Middle East and North Africa, and I will not take any time to recap what we all already know. However, I will say that I cannot remember one region shouldering such a heavy humanitarian burden in recent memory.
This speaks to the deep dysfunctions that exist in our world. Our world is in pain. This region is in pain. But in this suffering, we also find glimpses of our humanity, of what is best about us, about our human race. We see these glimpses in the tremendous generosity of the people of this region, the kindness and warmth shown to those who have been forced to flee their homes and their countries. I would like to recognize the government and people of Jordan, as well as those of neighbouring countries, for the role they have played in supporting those displaced by the conflict in Syria and elsewhere.
And of course, we see this grace and humanity through the work of Red Crescent and Red Cross volunteers and personnel. These men and women, who are on the frontlines of crises across the region, are a sign of hope for many people. They inspire us, and they humble us. They are the ones we should keep in mind over the coming days of deliberations.
Since the 8th MENA conference in Tehran, National Societies have scaled up their response efforts. You are the ones that we will rely on when guns fall silent, when communities start to return to their homes, to ensure that reconstruction and reconciliation will go on.
Ladies and gentlemen, dear friends,
Please know that our entire Federation looks to you over the coming days for solutions and for leadership. We stand committed to be alongside you, to support your solutions, to follow your leadership.
The consequences of the suffering that we see here in the Middle East and North Africa now extend well beyond the region. As we speak, our brothers and sisters in Europe are aiding the hundreds of thousands of people who have fled there in search of safety and dignity. The bonds that exist between National Societies are tied even tighter by this shared commitment to assist all vulnerable people on the move, at all points of their journeys. I am glad that you will dedicate time to addressing this topic.
The decisions you take here over the coming days will no doubt have an impact on the lives of vulnerable people throughout your region. These decisions will also help feed into our Statutory Meetings which will take place this November in Turkey. The agenda of the General Assembly and the concept note of the Council of Delegates have been shared with all National Societies. I count on all of you to contribute to the statutory meetings to ensure that they meet your needs, and the needs of your volunteers and staff.
Before I finish, I would like to take a brief moment to recognize my dear friend, Dr Attar. As many of you know, Dr Attar recently announced his retirement. On behalf of the Federation, I would like to thank Dr Attar for his leadership of the Syrian Arab Red Crescent, especially over the past five years. Dr Attar has been a giant of our Movement, a voice of principle and compassion in the midst of one of the most severe conflicts we have seen in recent history. He also provided guidance and wise counsel in this role as a member of the Governing Board. Thank you, Dr Attar.
I wish you all the best for your deliberations and I assure you that your Federation stands with you.