accessibility & help

World Humanitarian Summit: Staff and volunteers must be protected

20 May 2016

In advance of the World Humanitarian Summit on 23-24 May, the British Red Cross calls for staff and volunteers working in their own communities to be protected.

This will not only keep our dedicated teams safe but also result in more regular and improved support for people in crisis around the world.

Currently, 125 million people need humanitarian assistance. Over a fifth of the world’s population lives in countries affected by conflict.

One in 122 people worldwide is now a refugee, seeking asylum, or has been forced from their homes. This is 12 times higher than the number affected in 2000.

Working within this challenging climate, the British Red Cross is part of the world’s largest humanitarian network with over 450,000 staff and 17 million volunteers worldwide.

Local volunteers can be vulnerable

Our teams are trained and ready to carry out many essential tasks in their own towns and villages. These tasks include first aid, search and rescue, ambulance driving and distributing relief supplies. They are often first on the scene in a crisis and best placed to provide essential aid.

They also continue supporting their communities to rebuild and recover after emergencies.

But these local volunteers and staff are often most vulnerable to lapses in security, particularly in conflicts. They can risk death, violence and detention.

Unlike international workers, they cannot leave when the situation gets too dangerous.

Mike Adamson, British Red Cross chief executive, said: “It is a tragedy that in 2015, 98 of the 121 aid workers killed were national Red Cross, Red Crescent and local organisation volunteers and workers.

“In Syria alone, 61 Red Crescent staff and volunteers have lost their lives. Volunteers embody the principle of humanity and are the backbone of our work.

“This summit is a chance to change things for the humanitarian workers on the ground. They can then work in safety help people in crisis effectively.”

Respect international law

An attack on people responding to a crisis, whether intended or accidental, is an attack on international humanitarian law. Even war has rules and we call on the international community to respect them.

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