accessibility & help

Red Cross prepares for increased humanitarian needs over next decade

25 November 2009

Woman at hand pump wellAlex Wynter/IFRCIn a survey predicting an increase in humanitarian needs in coming years, world policy makers emphasize the importance of better linking relief and development, while focusing on security, capacity building and development at the community level.

The survey, released at the opening of an International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement conference in Kenya, reveals how the world powers – known as the G20 – perceive today’s top challenges in the humanitarian field.

Red Cross delegates gathered in Nairobi from 18-25 November to address today’s most pressing humanitarian challenges. The survey shows that climate change, a lack of humanitarian access, armed conflict, increased poverty and hunger, and ongoing disregard for international humanitarian law top the list of G20 concerns.

World powers also underline the crucial role of the Red Cross in promoting and upholding fundamental humanitarian principles, and acknowledge the reach of the network and the effectiveness of its response.

Saving lives

“The findings of this survey fully resonate with the essence of our mission which, yes, is about saving lives, but is also about changing minds and systematically bridging emergency response, recovery and community-based development. Ultimately, our role is to help people help themselves,” said Bekele Geleta, secretary general of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.

Discussions focused on the growing number of people displaced within their own countries due to violence or disasters, international migration, and the human cost of climate change, as well as the protection of medical workers and health facilities in armed conflicts.

Hosted by the Kenyan Red Cross Society, the Nairobi meetings also offered an opportunity to call for a greater, joint effort to meet the needs of Africa's most vulnerable and foster sustainable progress on the continent.

Sustainable approach

During the conference the Federation’s Strategy 2020 was unanimously adopted – this plan lays out the collective commitments of its 186 National Society members.

It aims to better fulfil the potential of the Red Cross and develop sustainable approaches in addressing three key areas: disasters, health risks and social exclusion. Crucially, it highlights that coping with increasing humanitarian needs will also require a change in mind-sets and attitudes to how we live, and relate to each other.

“We are aware of the humanitarian challenges looming on the horizon,” said Federation president Tadateru Konoé. “This strategy reflects our commitment to ensure that we are collectively and individually positioned to support those who need us and pre-empt, wherever possible, suffering and despair. Put simply, we want to show that the Red Cross is an agent of hope, peace and democracy.”

Read a blog from our youth delegate attending the conference