May 8, 2022, 1:56 PM
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Mardini: ICRC dearly values long-standing partnership with Iran's IRCS

Tehran, IRNA - The director-general of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said on Sunday, "We at ICRC dearly value our long-standing partnership with the IRCS in Iran."

Robert Mardini made the remarks speaking in the 100th anniversary of the Iranian Red Crescent Society in Tehran.

The full text of ICRC Chief speech is as follows:

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,

It is an honour and a privilege to be here in Tehran on the occasion of the Iranian Red Crescent Society’s 100th anniversary. My sincere thanks to Dr Kolivand and everyone at the IRCS for the invitation and warm welcome - and my heartfelt congratulations on reaching this grand old age!

It’s fair to say that today’s global humanitarian landscape bears little resemblance to the one in 1922, when the IRCS was established. This was a time when peace was being consolidated after the horrors of the First World War, when there was an overwhelming sentiment of “never again.” It was a time when the peacetime role of National Societies was expanding, serving a range of needs primarily on a local level.

Fast forward 100 years and the humanitarian environment is increasingly complex and unpredictable, in every part of the world. We see unexpected emergencies erupt alongside drawn-out armed conflicts. We see climate change, natural disasters, pandemics, urbanisation, migration and socio-economic crises adding more misery to people already suffering chronic hardship. And we see increasing constraints on humanitarian actors being able to respond effectively to massive needs. The politicisation of aid, misinformation, cyber-attacks, shrinking resources and restrictive measures are just a few examples.

But some things have not changed over the past 100 years, and even before, when the ICRC was born in 1863. Henry Dunant, who witnessed the carnage on the battlefield at Solferino, recognised the need for organised humanitarian relief, for trained volunteers and for medical services that would treat wounded soldiers on both sides of the frontline. He also recognised the need for international cooperation to achieve this. The creation of the ICRC and subsequently of national Red Cross and Red Crescent societies saw the development of concerted and coordinated humanitarian action for war victims, on the basis of international humanitarian law.

The concept of neutral, impartial and independent humanitarian action carried out under the protection of distinctive emblems lies at the very heart of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement – as much now as it did then. The desire to prevent and alleviate suffering – wherever it is found – and to uphold humanity and dignity, even in the darkest times, underpins everything we do. Working together, leveraging the complementary roles of each part of the Movement, and putting people at the centre of what we do is perhaps more important than ever, given the massive scale of needs with which we are faced, locally and globally.

Against this backdrop, the IRCS has gone from strength to strength over the decades, providing humanitarian services in numerous natural and man-made disasters. Today, we are proud to see you as a strong member of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement - with extensive capacities in Relief and Rescue, Health, and Physical Rehabilitation, among others.  

We at ICRC dearly value our long-standing partnership with the IRCS in Iran. An early example of our cooperation was during the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s and beyond, when we oversaw the repatriation of many hundreds of prisoners of war. We facilitated the exchange of millions of messages between these prisoners and their families, with the support of the IRCS.

As a more current example, last year, together with the IRCS and the International Federation, we worked together on the Movement Contingency Plan for Afghan migrants in Iran. Within this

framework, just one of the many activities supported and funded by ICRC was the provision of lifesaving oxygen concentrators for COVID-19 patients. The COVID vaccination drive by the IRCS was another, benefiting Afghan migrants and their hosts in four provinces of the country.

We would very much like to see our partnership with the IRCS develop and strengthen still further. There is no shortage of humanitarian challenges and opportunities on which we can build, together. Responding to the protection and assistance needs of undocumented migrants who are continuing to arrive from Afghanistan is one. This builds on Iran’s long history and experience of hosting and helping millions of migrants. Expanding and deepening our exchanges and discussions with the National Committee on Humanitarian Law of the Islamic Republic of Iran is another. And seeing how we can cooperate effectively beyond the borders of Iran is yet another.

As we all know, many of today’s armed conflicts have regional if not global repercussions, none more so than the one in Ukraine. The ripple effects of the conflicts in Yemen, Syria and Afghanistan continue to be felt far beyond their own borders, not least here in Iran.

We already enjoy an open and extremely constructive dialogue with the Iranian authorities on our mutual humanitarian concerns in these contexts, for which we are very thankful. We are keen for this to not only continue but to expand further. We are also keen to explore further partnership opportunities with the IRCS in other countries where it is, or plans to be, operational.

Looking ahead, the Council of Delegates will be taking place in Geneva in just a few weeks’ time. A central topic will be how we can do better and more together as a Movement to enhance our collective impact for people in need. We all need to show that we are walking the talk of a collaborative, inclusive approach. with the National Society at the centre. 

The added value and success of our Red Pillar depends on how we are able to leverage our complementary strengths: we must make best use of our complementary mandates, expertise and capacities. Here, I believe the Movement family in Iran has much to be proud of. Let us further cement our strong foundations and continue to build.

Allow me to end by reiterating my warmest congratulations – to all the staff and volunteers of the IRCS – on this landmark anniversary. To the institution as a whole, I wish you every success for the next 100 years!

Thank you

9376**9417

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