‘People’s support important to sustain Red Cross’ humanitarian efforts’: ICRC

COTABATO CITY — Allison Lopez, acting Communication Manager, International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC-Philippines) underscored the importance of people’s support to sustain the Red Cross’ humanitarian efforts.
Lopez conveyed this message when she guested on Tuesday (October 26, 2021) to the talk show “Kaunlaran sa Bangsamoro” of the Bangsamoro Multimedia Network to discuss the mandates, programs and services of ICRC especially for the Bangsamoro.

She narrated how Red Cross started in 1859 when Henry Dunant, a Swish business man witnessed the Battle of Solferino, a war between France and Austria that resulted to many military casualties.

When he returned to Switzerland, he wrote a book entitled Solferino that had awaken the minds of medical practitioners to respond to the need of having volunteers who will cater the victims of any natural or man-made calamities. The book gave huge impact to the people especially to the creation of the 1949 Geneva conventions.

“We are mandated to protect and assist the victims of armed conflict and other situations of violence. We strive to protect and help them,” Lopez said.

According to Lopez Red Cross espouses respect to International Humanitarian Law and heed the principles of Neutrality, Impartiality and Independence.

She explained that ICRC does not side with any parties of conflict and they help people in need regardless of religion, ethnicity, gender and political belief.

“We are accountable to the people we help,” she explained and conveyed that ICRC is open for any feedback from the beneficiaries they serve.

Lopez also clarified in the interview that during the all-out-war in 2000 here in Mindanao, although she has no personal knowledge of the event, she said that it is highly possible that the ICRC or the Red Cross conducted medical evacuation of wounded people who might have included fighters regardless of which side they were on.

She further related how ICRC Marawi Team also initiated to provide vehicles to transport a hundred of civilians who were trapped during the Marawi Siege.

According to Lopez, the Sustainable programs such as livelihood gave huge impact in the lives of the Bangsamoro people.

Most of their feedback is very positive. They are thankful for the help we have given. Majority are very positive, especially since our program is sustainable and helps in their livelihood,” she said. 

Recently, ICRC in partnership with Jamiat Cotabato Institute and Technology launched a book entitled the Protection of the Victims of Armed Conflict -International Humanitarian Law and Islamic Law.

The book, translated into Maguindanaon and Maranao, contained the commonalities between Islamic law and International Humanitarian Law and it aims to clarify the misinterpretation about International Humanitarian Law as a western concept.

Lopez expressed her gratitude for the opportunities given to ICRC and the chance to serve the Bangsamoro people.

The four (4) offices of ICRC operating in Mindanao are ICRC-Cotabato covering Maguindanao, Sultan Kudarat and South Cotabato, ICRC- Zamboanga for BaSulTa, ICRC-ligan City for Lanao del Sur and Lanao del Norte and ICRC-Davao for CARAGA Region. (Photo courtesy of ICRC)