Red Cross to focus on challenges of urbanization

Tackling the challenges of urbanization will be the focus for the Red Cross and Red Crescent societies for the next year.

Secretary-General Dorothy Fraser yesterday announced that the Guyana Red Cross Society will be observing the international theme of “Urbanization”. Amidst a pre-celebration of World Red Cross Day – which will be observed on Saturday – Fraser stressed that the society will be concentrating on “long-term action” and cited the media’s important role of informing the public about Red Cross’ plans and progress.

Reading from a joint statement by presidents of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, Fraser said: “Violence, poverty, food shortages, insufficient health care, inadequate access to water and sanitation and escalating human vulnerability are among the many challenges facing people in cities and densely populated areas around the globe.”

How will Guyana benefit from this new theme of urbanization? The Guyana Red Cross society – as it continues to work at achieving its strategic aims for the year 2020 – will tackle the existing challenges in urban areas.

In the joint statement it was noted that, for the first time, more than 50% of the world’s population live in urban areas and this figure is expected to increase by 10% in two decades. It was in the light of these stats that it was decided to launch the urbanization theme in observance of World Red Cross Day.

IFRC president Tadateru Konoe in the statement said: “The recent devastation in Haiti reminds us of the impact disasters can have on densely populated urban areas and our commitment is to work with the communities, local government and other local partners to improve health care and water and sanitation services, to make effective early warning and early action systems and to deliver earthquake-resistant shelters that will help save lives in future disasters.”

Meanwhile, President of the ICRC Jakob Kellenberger hinted that in the future the society’s humanitarian work may “increasingly happen in cities affected by various types of violence other than armed conflict”.

In observance of the last World Red Cross Day, Fraser said, the society had launched the theme: ‘Our World Your Move’. She stressed that this effort reminds us that we all can make a difference in our communities just by doing something positive. Cleaning a drain and disposing of garbage in a responsible are just two of many ways we can make a positive change in our communities, Fraser said.

The society, she further noted, is dependent on volunteers. Persons of “all types” and “all backgrounds” are invited to become volunteers. Over the years, Fraser said, emphasis has been placed on youth involvement. Youth have more energy and are more inclined to change the world in which they live, she said.

Caribbean Youth is the youth arm of the society and links young people – who want to bring about positive changes – throughout the Caribbean.

Youth Intern and Youth Director of the Grenada Red Cross Society Heskeith Mc Queen is a part of this youth movement. Mc Queen recently returned from Nairobi where he underwent training.

During brief remarks to the media Mc Queen reiterated Fraser’s point about the importance of youth involvement to the society. He also expressed thanks to all media bodies noting that even though the society works it would appear as though no progress is being made unless someone told the world about it. Mc Queen is expected to be in Guyana for six weeks as a youth intern.

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