Michael Adamson

Chief Executive of the British Red Cross

Guest blogger for FCDO Editorial

Part of FCDO Human Rights

8th May 2018 London, UK

The Red Cross and Red Crescent: everywhere for everyone

Red Cross workers distributing vital supplies in the Central African Republic.

Today (8 May) is World Red Cross and Red Crescent Day, a day to celebrate the incredible work of our staff and volunteers around the world.

Every year the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement supports millions of people affected by conflict, natural disasters and other emergencies through its network of 191 national societies,14 million volunteers and 450,000 staff.

A Red Cross worker with a child off the coast of Italy, where the organisation is providing humanitarian support to people who have fled their homes.

Volunteers and staff live in the communities they support, facing the same challenges and dangers. They are the first line of humanitarian response in towns, villages, conflict zones and hard-to-reach areas. These are the selfless volunteers who are on the scene within the first minutes or hours of an emergency. From the hurricanes in the Caribbean, the movement of people to Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh, to the terror attacks and the Grenfell Tower fire in London, Red Cross volunteers are there. They are ordinary people doing extraordinary things – ready to go above and beyond to help others, sometimes in the most difficult of circumstances.

Today is also a day to remember those who have sacrificed their lives to save others. Since Syria’s conflict began in 2011, 71 volunteers like Firas Al-Hussein have been killed while carrying out their humanitarian work. Last month, ICRC worker Hanna Lahoud, who had overcome his own personal struggle beating cancer just two years before, was killed in Yemen. We are deeply saddened by their loss. We celebrate their work and the values they embodied and continue our call for respect and protection of all humanitarian workers.

We cannot do this work without the support of the international community, including the help we get in Britain. We greatly appreciate the partnership between the government and the Red Cross and Red Crescent, which helps to provide targeted humanitarian assistance to those most in need. Support such as the UK Aid Match project, which sees the government contribute £1 of UK aid for every £1 donated to a UK Aid Match charity appeal, helps our projects go further in changing and saving lives. The money makes differences across the world, such as bringing clean water to communities in Kenya, reducing the risk of disease in the aftermath of Nepal’s earthquake, and  improving water and sanitation facilities in Bangladesh.

With the Syrian Arab Red Crescent, the Red Cross has helped over 5 million people since the Syrian conflict began.

At a time when the world faces so many challenges, we must continue to work together. The Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement has an incredible network, which can reach into almost every corner of the globe, harnessing the power of human kindness to change and save people’s lives. There is, quite simply, no other organisation like it.