By Moses Mugugunyeki
World Red Cross and Red Crescent Day is celebrated on May 8 every year as the birthday anniversary of founder of the Red Cross and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Henry Dunant. Dunant was born in Geneva, Switzerland in 1828 and was the most famous person in humanitarian work, which made him the recipient of the first Nobel Peace Prize.
The commemorations were running under the theme, Red Cross Everywhere for Everyone.
Guest of honour at the commemorations that were held in Mt Pleasant, Defence minister Sydney Sekeramayi, gave thumbs up to the work that Red Cross was doing in the country.
“As the theme for this year aptly highlights, Red Cross Everywhere for Everyone, I wish to reaffirm the fact that indeed here in Zimbabwe, the Red Cross is visible in virtually all the vulnerable communities, extending its helping hand, commitment, energy and time to the needy,” said Sekeramayi.
“While the gap between humanitarian needs and humanitarian funding is both historic and growing, it is my firm belief that strengthening local and national humanitarian capacity of the Red Cross will improve the efficiency and effectiveness of humanitarian assistance. Of this, we have no doubt that the Red Cross is best placed to deliver rapid, appropriate and sustainable humanitarian assistance.”
Sekeramayi said government acknowledged Red Cross’s partnership programmes with institutions such as the Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services, Zimbabwe Defence Forces and Zimbabwe Mine Action Centre meant to improve living conditions in prisons, improve international humanitarian law and promoting humanitarian demining standards respectively.
ICRC head of regional delegation Thomas Merkelbach said the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement were visible across the globe where they were assisting vulnerable communities.
“The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement reaches more than 160 million people through its network of around 17 million volunteers and 450 000 staff across the world,” he said.
Merkelbach said his organisation was committed to work with any government in improving the lives of people.
ZRCS national president Edson Mlambo said World Red Cross and Red Crescent Day is celebrated every year to pay tribute to volunteers who render precious contribution to people in need.
“Red Cross volunteers are working in virtually every community, giving their commitment, energy and time,” said Mlambo.
“World Red Cross and Red Crescent Day is an opportunity to recognise the contribution and achievements of the millions of volunteers and staff around the world who are keeping our commitment to humanity everyday — by making the last mile effort to ensure that no one is left behind.”
Locally, ZRCS reaches out to thousands of vulnerable people by building safer and stronger communities through a diverse and innovative range of home-grown services.
“In complex contexts and increasing vulnerabilities, our ability to access people in need is constantly changing,” said Mlambo.
“However, our volunteers and staff are finding creative and innovative ways to adapt local solutions to reach people in need and help them prepare for, deal with and recover from these challenges.”
Musician Alick Macheso, who is also ZRCS humanitarian ambassador provided entertainment.