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Red Cross chief hails Iran's humanitarian efforts

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Director General of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Robert Mardini, addresses the guests at an event marking the Iranian Red Crescent Society’s 100th anniversary, on May 8, 2022, Tehran, Iran.

Director General of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has hailed Iran's humanitarian efforts, calling for cooperation with the country beyond its borders.

Robert Mardini, who is in Tehran to attend the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Iranian Red Crescent Society (IRCS), met with Iranian officials and discussed humanitarian issues in the region.

In a statement on Sunday, he outlined the humanitarian concept that lies at the heart of both ICRC and IRCS, emphasizing the importance of cooperative efforts in this field.

"Working together ... putting people at the center of what we do is perhaps more important than ever, given the massive scale of needs with which we are faced, locally and globally," he insisted.

"[T]he humanitarian environment is increasingly complex and unpredictable, in every part of the world. We see unexpected emergencies erupt alongside drawn-out armed conflicts. We see climate change, natural disasters, pandemics, urbanization, migration and socio-economic crises adding more misery to people already suffering chronic hardship. And we see increasing constraints on humanitarian actors being able to respond effectively to massive needs," the visiting ICRC chief noted.

Mardini cited "the politicization of aid ... shrinking resources and restrictive measures" as just a few of the challenges aid organizations are currently faced with.

The Swiss-educated Lebanese ICRC director also praised Iran for its aid efforts, saying, "We at ICRC dearly value our long-standing partnership with the IRCS in Iran."

"[L]ast year, together with the IRCS and the International Federation, we worked together on the Movement Contingency Plan for Afghan migrants in Iran. Within this framework, just one of the many activities supported and funded by ICRC was the provision of lifesaving oxygen concentrators for COVID-19 patients. The COVID vaccination drive by the IRCS was another, benefiting Afghan migrants and their hosts in four provinces of the country."

The ICRC is seeking to see "how we can cooperate effectively beyond the borders of Iran," given the country's long history and experience of hosting and helping millions of Afghan refugees, Mardini said.

In addition to Afghanistan, the Red Cross director cited crisis zones such as Yemen, Syria and Ukraine as areas in need of help from humanitarian organizations offering relief.

In his statement, Mardini thanked the head of the IRCS, Pir-Hossein Kolivand, and everyone at the organization for the invitation and warm welcome in Iran.

He said it was an honor and a privilege for him to be in Tehran on the centenary of the establishment of the organization.

May 8, 2022 marks the IRCS’ 100th anniversary. It is the birth date of Henry Dunant, who was born on May 8, 1828. Dunant, who during his lifetime witnessed human suffering on the battlefield, recognized the need for organized humanitarian relief, for trained volunteers and for medical services that would treat wounded soldiers on both sides of the frontline.

He also recognized the need for international cooperation to achieve this. His birthday marks World Red Cross and Red Crescent Day each year. The day is dedicated to the staff and volunteers of the humanitarian organizations offering aid and support to those people affected by crises and disasters all over the world.

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