Volunteers provide an invaluable service to countless communities around the globe, yet their sacrifice and dedication are underappreciated and go unrecognized.
To mark this year’s World Red Cross Red Crescent Day – tomorrow (8 May 2011) – the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement is calling for greater recognition of the sizable contribution volunteers make in a world increasingly confronted by challenges linked to such adversities as natural disasters, disease, war and other armed violence, poverty, hunger and climate change.
“Volunteers are one of the greatest assets communities have when a crisis occurs,” said Tadateru Konoé, president of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, which acts before, during and after disasters and health emergencies to meet the needs and improve the lives of vulnerable people.
“It’s worth pointing out that volunteers are often themselves the victims of the very same crises they are responding to. The courage and sense of solidarity it takes to put one’s own suffering aside and take action to help others is quite simply remarkable.”
According to a recent study, the 13 million active Red Cross and Red Crescent volunteers provided voluntary service worth US$6 billion in 2009 alone.
Volunteers are frequently on the front lines of emergency response, exposing themselves to serious risk. To ensure that they are allowed to do their work safely, the Red Cross and Red Crescent is calling for greater respect for the safety and well being of all volunteers.
“Disasters will continue to happen. War and other situations of violence, natural and technological disasters, hunger, disease, and discrimination are the reality of our humanitarian landscape,” said Jakob Kellenberger, president of the International Committee of the Red Cross, which works to protect and assist victims of armed conflict and other violence.
“One of the greatest resources we have in addressing these challenges are volunteers, and that’s why we’re using World Red Cross Red Crescent Day this year to pay tribute to their invaluable service.”
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