Red Cross and Red Crescent leaders from Southeast Asia began a two-day meeting yesterday to discuss regional issues.
The 19th Southeast Asia Red Cross Red Crescent Leaders meeting, hosted by Brunei Darussalam, was attended by representatives from the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).
Minister of Health Dato Seri Setia Dr Haji Mohd Isham bin Haji Jaafar was the guest of honour.
The minister said the meeting is an opportunity to share experiences in responding to crises such as the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change.
“This year alone, we have seen a series of devastating weather-related disasters in various parts of the world. Millions of people have been displaced and lost their homes, livelihoods, and loved ones, and Southeast Asian countries are of no exception,” he said. “Those hit disproportionately hardest are the most vulnerable. Protecting these groups is thus an important and crucial objective.
“We need to adapt and strengthen our efforts in order to address risks, better respond to crises and effectively facilitate humanitarian assistance for sustainable recovery,” added the minister.
Secretary-General of Brunei Darussalam Red Crescent Society (BRC) Sheikh Kadir Abdullah said the annual meeting brings together Red Cross and Red Crescent national societies leaders from South-East Asia, IFRC and ICRC to discuss and decide on issues of interest to the movement in Southeast Asia national societies members.
“It is also a platform to discuss policies and issues of Red Cross and Red Crescent work among the national societies, the IFRC Secretariat and the ICRC, and agree on appropriate action and follow-up,” he said.
He said the meeting will take stock of the strategic directions of the movement, develop and implement key actions through cooperation and networking among the national societies, the IFRC Secretariat, the ICRC, the ASEAN Secretariat and the AHA Centre.
He called on national society leaders to come together to face humanitarian challenges from climate change to hunger and poverty, migration and displacement, conflicts and crises.
“Let us share the same voice and get closer to each other and take advantage of the strength of working together to increase the performance and effectiveness of our work,” he said.
IFRC Governing Board member and Malaysian Red Crescent Society Chair Her Highness Dato‘ Seri Diraja Tan Sri Tunku Puteri Intan Safinaz binti Almarhum Sultan Abdul Halim Mu’adzam Shah, Regional Director for Asia Pacific IFRC Alexander Matheo and Head Of ICRC Regional Delegation Omar Odeh, President of BRC Pengiran Dato Paduka Haji Mohd Yussof bin Pengiran Haji Bahar also attended.