Baghdad, 18 April 2018 – Red Cross and Red Crescent leaders from across the Middle East and North Africa gather today in Baghdad to discuss the region’s escalating humanitarian crises.
More than 140 attendees, including representatives from 16 National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, will attend the conference to explore a range of issues, including the shrinking of neutral and impartial humanitarian space, and the rising vulnerabilities of millions of migrants.
“The Iraqi Red Crescent Society is pleased to welcome our Red Cross and Red Crescent partners to plan our collective strategy for the next decade,” said Dr Yassin, the President of the Iraqi Red Crescent.
“Only together, standing by our humanitarian principles, and advocating for protected humanitarian space, can we alleviate the suffering of millions of vulnerable people in our region.”
The Middle East and North Africa region is home to the world’s most pronounced humanitarian crises. The conflict in Syria, now in its seventh year, has left 13 million people in need of humanitarian assistance. In Iraq itself, 15 years of conflict and economic stagnation have left more than 8.5 million people relying on humanitarian relief. In Yemen, more than 80 per cent of the population is in need of aid today – 3.4 million people more than one year ago – after conflict devastated the health system and other essential infrastructure. Only 45 per cent of Yemen’s health facilities are currently functioning. In Libya, 9 per cent of the country’s estimated one million migrants are minors, and 40 per cent of these are unaccompanied. These crises are happening in parallel to the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Palestine.
The region’s conflicts are defined by growing disregard for humanitarian laws and norms. Civilians are increasingly bearing the brunt of the fighting, and aid agencies are finding it more and more difficult to access communities in need. As a further consequence, an estimated 35 million people have been displaced from their homes across the Middle East and North Africa, according to the International Organization for Migration.
Mr Francesco Rocca, the President of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), said: “Across the region and around the world, these people – who have fled their homes because of war or violence – struggle to access the services and support they need to survive. Even worse, they are increasingly falling victim to policies and laws that prioritize border control over humanity and dignity.
“All people migrating, regardless of their status, must have access to humanitarian protection and assistance. Human rights are migrant rights.”
During the conference, the Iraqi Red Crescent will nominate renowned artist Naseer Shamma as a Good Will Ambassador, in recognition of this efforts to help Iraqis affected by the conflict.
At the end of the two-day conference, participants will aim to adopt the Baghdad Declaration, which will address a range of humanitarian issues and underline the importance of National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies in bringing hope and support to vulnerable communities.