By Fatoumata K. Jallow The Gambia Red Cross Society (GRCS) on 8th May 2015 joined the rest of the world to celebrate World Red Cross and Red Crescent Day with a march pass parade from Churchill Town to the organisation’s headquarters in Kanifing.This year’s theme is “power of humanity: the fundamental principles in action”. Speaking on behalf of the minister of health and social welfare, Mr. Alhagie Sankareh, Regional Director of Health Services of Western Region 1, underscored the importance of the adoption of the 7 fundamental principles of humanity, impartiality, neutrality, independence, voluntary service, unity and universality in this ever-changing world and their application in today’s  humanitarian contexts. “We will celebrate their importance and claim their enduring relevance and significance,” said Mr. Sankareh. He said this 50th anniversary is an opportunity to celebrate the principles as a continued vital guidepost in the delivery of the work of the Red Cross and Red Crescent. He concluded that this anniversary also provides opportunities for the components of the movement to further strengthen their efforts to ensure the application of the principles. Madam Isatou Joof, the Volunteer Management Coordinator, deputizing the GRCS acting Secretary General, said the Gambia Red Cross Society is a legally constituted humanitarian organisation established by an Act of Parliament. On the genesis of the organization, she said it started as a branch of the British Red Cross in 1948 and became a recognized independent national society in 1966 following the ratification of the Geneva Convention in 1965. “Its constitution is based on the 1949 Geneva Convention and their additional protocols, which the Gambia is a party to, and on the fundamental principles of the international Red Cross and Red Crescent movement,” she added. Madam Joof stressed on the need to act in order to prevent and alleviate human suffering. Dwelling further on the origins of the movement, the GRCS Volunteer Management Coordinator said it was born out of a desire to bring assistance without discrimination to the wounded on the battlefield and the impartiality of the movement ensures that there is no discrimination as the work applies to all individuals. “Non-discrimination is the refusal to apply distinction of an adverse nature to human beings simply because they belong to specific categories,” she said. Dr. Alieu G. Gaye, Chairperson of the GRCS Interim Committee, said the day is a reaffirmation of the relevance of the seven fundamental principles which are the core of its humanitarian commitment, values and mission. “At the heart of the international Red Cross and Red Crescent movement is the mandate to assist communities affected by disasters, conflict or crisis, wherever and whoever they are. At anytime and anywhere you see a Red Cross society, we act in accordance with the movements 7 fundamental principles,” said Dr. Gaye. He noted that these fundamental principles have been at the center of all major humanitarian operations for over a century. “They ensure the trust and acceptance of communities and, ultimately, they enable the movement to be present on the ground when delivering services, even in the most extreme situation,” said the Chairperson of the GRCS Interim Committee. Dr Gaye added that for them to reach people in crisis, their principles of humanity, impartiality, and neutrality can be their entire shield. He expressed hope that this year’s campaign on the fundamental principles would yield great achievements in ensuring better understanding and implementation of them by all individuals.]]>

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