This week, the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement launched Voices to Action, a global initiative to gather community solutions to some of today’s most pressing humanitarian challenges.
Thoughts and ideas generated through a dedicated website – www.voicestoaction.org – and at community events in five countries will be shared with governments at the 32nd International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent in December – ensuring local voices are represented in the global discussions. Held every four years, the International Conference provides a non-political forum for governments and Red Cross and Red Crescent leaders to discuss the needs of people affected by conflict and disaster and agree on a common humanitarian agenda for the next four years.
“The humanitarian situation that we are witnessing right now is unprecedented,” said Yves Daccord, Director-General of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), which was founded in 1859 and is mandated by the Geneva Conventions to protect and assist the victims of armed conflict. “Now, more than ever, we must collectively set a strong and focused agenda for future humanitarian action – built on the voices and needs of local communities.”
Mr Daccord's comments were echoed by Elhadj As Sy, Secretary General of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), which was established in 1919 and is the part of the Red Cross and Red Crescent charged with responding to global health crises and natural disasters.
“This is an opportunity for people to help shape how we work with communities to find solutions to the many challenges they face,” he said. “We hope that as many people as possible will join us, sharing their thoughts and ideas about how we can better support communities to become more resilient through effective humanitarian action,” he added.
The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement is the largest humanitarian network in the world. Its mission is to alleviate human suffering, protect life and health, and uphold human dignity, especially during wars, natural disasters, and other emergencies. Together with National Societies, like the American and Canadian Red Crosses, the Movement is present in nearly every country on Earth and is supported by millions of dedicated volunteers worldwide.
In the coming months, local Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies in Bangladesh, Honduras, Liberia, Lebanon, and Austria will host humanitarian hub events with communities. The first event, which is taking place in Liberia this week, brings together community members and leaders, volunteers, NGOs, government representatives, and the Liberia National Red Cross Society to collectively examine their local needs and discuss community-driven solutions.
“The fight against Ebola in Liberia was fought at the grassroot level, starting with the communities themselves,” said Fayiah Tamba, Secretary General of the Liberia National Red Cross Society. “Empowering communities is crucial to deliver sustainable humanitarian action. We are pleased to host the first humanitarian hub event for Voices to Action.”