The President of the Republic of Maldives has ratified a bill that lays the legal foundation to create a National Red Crescent Society in the island nation.
"The humanitarian work of the Red Cross Red Crescent in the Maldives, following the tsunami, has been amazing", the country's President Mohamed Nasheed, emphasized as he ratified a bill that lays the legal foundation to create a National Red Crescent Society in the island nation. "The people of the Maldives would like to see continuous engagement of the Red Cross Red Crescent in their islands."
Besides endorsing the formation of a local Red Crescent Society, the ratification of the Maldivian Red Crescent Act, on 7 May 2009, is a clear recognition of the humanitarian work that Red Cross Red Crescent has done in the country.
"The Maldivian Red Crescent bill will provide a firm legal framework for [the Red Cross Red Crescent] operations in the Maldives", President Nasheed added.
The lack of a National Society was felt
Per Jensnaes, head of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) delegation in the Maldives, remembers that when the tsunami struck in 2004 it took many hours to reach outlying islands from the capital, Male'. "I remember that while the IFRC and some of its members quickly responded by providing life-saving relief supplies", he said, "the absence of a local National Society was felt immediately by the massive relief operation", he added.
"Island communities are significantly isolated from each other" Jensnaes added, "had the Maldivian Red Crescent been in existence then, its volunteers in the atoll branches or island units would have responded immediately and ensured a quicker response to the benefit of affected communities."
The strength of local communities
The head of delegation noted that experience has proven that local communities and volunteers are best placed to assist themselves, to become better prepared for and to respond to natural disasters because they come from those communities and are, therefore, perfectly placed to know what their community's vulnerabilities.
With the legal foundation of the Maldivian Red Crescent firmly established, the society's first General Assembly is scheduled for 16 August 2009. Among others, the General Assembly will elect a governing board and adopt the National Society's statutes and rules of procedures, signaling the birth of a new member of the Red Cross Red Crescent family.
Once operational, the new National Society will strive, through voluntary action, to address human suffering in the Maldives as an auxiliary to public authorities. Like 186 other National Societies around the world, the Maldivian Red Crescent will adhere to the seven fundamental principles of the Red Cross Red Crescent Movement; humanity, impartiality, neutrality, independence, voluntary service, unity and universality.Source: reliefweb.int