The position of the Red Cross as an impartial aid provider must be protected

Emil Helotie
Emil Helotie

Despite the radical cuts to development cooperation, the Finnish Red Cross will continue to help those who are the most vulnerable there where the need for aid is the greatest. The organisation asks the government not to further weaken the chain of aid by decreasing humanitarian aid.

The support of donors is very important

Amidst radical cuts, the support from donors is more important than ever.

– We couldn’t act without the help of the Finnish people. Everyone can show their support through their everyday actions, such as joining as a monthly donor to the Disaster Relief Fund or as a volunteer Hunger Day collector, head of international programmes Maria Suoheimo states. Come and join us as a box collector here!

Over 80 million people in different parts of the world require humanitarian aid. The number is greater than ever. At the same time, more and more humanitarian aid is being given. For example, the annual budget of the International Committee of the Red Cross has already increased by 25% this year and is now larger than ever. However, this is not enough to cover the need for aid.

“The unique position of the Red Cross as an impartial aid provider must be protected. The national Red Cross societies in 189 countries ensure the aid reaches its destination quickly and efficiently. In certain situations, we’re the only humanitarian organisation that can help,” says Kristiina Kumpula, the Secretary General of the Finnish Red Cross.

The Finnish Red Cross is the most prominent Finnish civil organisation offering humanitarian aid. The international preparedness of the organisation is top quality at a global level. The Finnish Red Cross is the national Red Cross organisation sending the most aid workers to conflict and disaster areas.

Soon, the Finnish government is to decide on the amount of humanitarian aid for coming years.

“The Finnish Red Cross has built its preparedness for decades, and the financial support of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland in crisis and disaster situations is important for maintaining this preparedness. The international preparedness also improves Finland’s ability to react to domestic crises and crises in nearby areas,” says Andreas von Weissenberg, head of international disaster aid at the Finnish Red Cross.

Cuts to development cooperation weaken disaster preparedness

The Finnish Red Cross has risen to become one of the most important Finnish organisations offering development cooperation. The development cooperation fund cuts already decided by the government will decrease the program support of the Finnish Red Cross by 38 per cent, amounting to several million euros, starting from the beginning of 2016.

The operations in 15 countries must now be re-evaluated within a tight schedule.

However, the focuses of development cooperation stay the same. Promoting health and people’s ability to help themselves in a crisis or a disaster is at the centre of Red Cross’s operations both in development countries and in Finland.

“The Red Cross is an impartial actor. Despite the cuts, we’ll follow our statutory mandate to protect life and health, as well as help those in the most vulnerable position,” says Maria Suoheimo, head of international programmes at the Finnish Red Cross.

Development is sustainable and humanitarian aid is the most effective when linked to long-term development cooperation. Cuts to development cooperation weaken communities’ preparedness to face disasters, which is when the significance of humanitarian aid is emphasised.

Finland is committed to promoting the sustainable development objectives of the UN and to other international commitments, and disaster preparedness is strongly tied to the focuses of Finland’s development policies.

According to a recent study by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, humanitarian aid and development cooperation have the strong support of the Finnish people.  

“We couldn’t act without the help of the Finnish people. Everyone can show their support through their everyday actions, such as joining as a monthly donor to the Disaster Relief Fund or as a volunteer Hunger Day collector,” Suoheimo states.