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May 8, 2017

The President of Chile commemorates World Red Cross Day

President Bachelet said, “both in Chile and the rest of the world, without any discrimination, the Movement has enabled many lives to be saved and brought help to those most in need; those suffering the devastating effects of war, regional conflicts and disasters.”

This morning, the President of Chile, Michelle Bachelet, along with Minister of Defense José Antonio Goméz, and Minister of Social Development Marcos Barraza, took part in the commemoration of World Red Cross and Red Crescent Day. She congratulated and especially thanked “the members and volunteers of the Chilean Red Cross who, since its foundation 114 years ago, have shown their commitment and dedication to supporting our fellow Chileans, especially in the emergency situations we have had to address as a country.”

The fundamental objective of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is to provide protection and assistance to the victims of armed conflict and other situations of armed violence. It does this by carrying out direct activities throughout the world, encouraging the development of international humanitarian law (IHL) and promoting respect for this branch of law by governments and weapon bearers.

The ICRC currently forms part of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, which is the world’s biggest humanitarian network with around 97 million volunteers, collaborators and employees in 190 countries.

President Bachelet highlighted, “in Chile and the rest of the world, without any discrimination, the Movement has enabled many lives to be saved and brought help to those most in need; those suffering the devastating effects of war, regional conflicts and disasters.”

The Red Cross has been present in Chile since 1879. During the War of the Pacific, agreements were established with the International Committee of the Red Cross and some of its principles of wartime medicine were put into effect. The Chilean Red Cross was officially founded on December 18,1903 in the city of Punta Arenas on the initiative of an Italian, Vittorio Cuccuini.

President Bachelet stated, “the threat of humanitarian disasters continues to exist in many parts of the world. It is an ongoing challenge to the capacity of governments, international organizations and civil organizations to act in time and with sufficient resources to address the scale of such problems.”

She stressed, “the International Red Cross Movement has been able to respond to these new situations, remaining faithful to its ideals and principles of humanity, impartiality, neutrality, independence, volunteering, unity and universality.”

In early 2015, the Chilean Red Cross began a series of humanitarian actions to mitigate the consequences of the earthquake in northern Chile. These included cash transfer programs, psychosocial support and the distribution of hygiene and cooking kits, blankets, household essentials and water.

Also in 2015, the Chilean Red Cross carried out similar humanitarian actions in the wake of the wildfire that affected Valparaíso. Then, in 2016, together with the Ministry of Social Development, the Red Cross implemented units for the Programa Noche Digna/Plan de Invierno (decent night program/winter plan) with the objective of providing services and assistance to homeless people during the months of cold weather.

The President said, “in a profoundly unequal world like ours, where conflicts arise because of economics, gender, ethnicity, religion or ideology and climate change is bringing new difficulties, we must reinforce the capacity to respond quickly and efficiently to emergencies.”

She concluded, “in addition, we have the task that cannot be postponed of making Earth a better, fairer, more equal and inclusive world and of looking after the environment so as to prevent natural disasters from becoming incontrollable.”

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