* Any views expressed in this article are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters Foundation.
Conakry/Geneva, 11 August 2014 – The new secretary general of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), Elhadj As Sy, begins his tenure with a visit to Ebola operations in Guinea and Sierra Leone.
Concerned by the rapidly deteriorating situation in the Ebola affected countries and the potential spread to other countries in the region, volunteers and staff of National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies in the affected countries staff have been working ceaselessly from the start of the outbreak to provide assistance to affected communities. Since March this year, the IFRC has also sent 113 international delegates to support the operations and expanded its support to seven countries: Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria to respond to the outbreak and in Cote d’Ivoire, Mali and Senegal for Ebola preparedness and control measures.
“Our volunteers are pivotal in helping to halt the further spread of this epidemic. The collective strength of the Red Cross and Red Crescent is in our unique presence within communities and our experience working with and for communities,” said Mr Sy. “Red Cross volunteers who have been working untiringly to support the affected communities, are themselves from these communities - which makes a big difference when it comes to disseminating prevention messages or when rumours and cultural beliefs need to be dispelled.”
However, according to Mr Sy, the international community must overcome the fear and be ready to scale up its response to the situation to ensure that the workers on the ground are able to sustain the momentum of the operations and ultimately halt the outbreak. Currently, the capacity to continue to respond to this emergency is already at its limit and the epidemic is outpacing humanitarian efforts.
Mr As Sy will be meeting members of the affected communities, key partners and local representatives to identify the urgent needs on the ground and how best to coordinate the resources to respond to the escalating situation.
This visit to Guinea and Sierra Leone is Mr Sy’s first field visit in his new role as secretary general of the IFRC.
For further information, please contact:
In Conakry/ Freetown:
Benoit Carpentier, IFRC Senior Communications Officer, Geneva
Mobile: +41 79 213 24 13, E-mail email@example.com
Reeni Amin Chua, IFRC Communications Officer, Geneva
Mobile: ++41 79 708 6273, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is the world’s largest volunteer-based humanitarian network, reaching 150 million people each year through its 189 member National Societies. Together, the IFRC acts before, during and after disasters and health emergencies to meet the needs and improve the lives of vulnerable people. It does so with impartiality as to nationality, race, gender, religious beliefs, class and political opinions. For more information, please visit www.ifrc.org. You can also connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Flickr.