Secretary General of the International Red Cross: “Thank you, all volunteers”

Miikka Pirinen
Miikka Pirinen
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The Secretary General of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, Elhadj As Sy, who visited Finland in October, was impressed by how Finland cares for asylum seekers. He reminds everyone that humanitarian work needs more support during difficult times.

Iraqi asylum seekers smile broadly when they find out who the surprise guest is. The curious gather to watch as the Auramotalo emergency accommodation unit in Vantaa is presented to Elhadj As Sy, the Secretary General of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.

Many asylum seekers want to take a picture with As Sy, which is no wonder, since the organisation he leads consists of 189 national Red Cross and Red Crescent societies with a total of a hundred million members, volunteers, and supporters.

Before visiting Finland, As Sy travelled to see the asylum seeker situation in Hungary, Serbia, Austria, and Iraq, which are at the focal point of the refugee and immigrant migration. There are now more refugees in the world than ever since the Second World War.

– I’m impressed with how well these people are cared for in Finland. This is not only a question of giving people food and shelter, this is also related to whether they are treated in a humane and respectful manner, As Sy says.

 – When a person who’s faced great hardships smiles, we know we have succeeded. I saw many smiles in the Vantaa reception centre. This is why I want to give my thanks to all of the Red Cross volunteers who have aided the reception of asylum seekers in Finland. The Red Cross would not exist without the volunteers.

Supporting humanitarian work is important

During his visit in Finland, As Sy will meet the Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Lenita Toivakka, members of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Parliament of Finland, and authorities responsible for immigration affairs.

As Sy want to remind the Finnish authorities and decision-makers of the important role humanitarian work has, particularly during difficult times.

– In many ways, we live in difficult times, and in times like these, the Red Cross is needed more than ever. When the times are economically difficult, people suffer the most, and that is when it is vital to invest in supporting humanitarian work.

One of the subjects of the discussions is how Finland and the EU can increase their support. The International Red Cross has petitioned to receive 13 million euros of additional funding for Balkan. As winter comes closer, the need for warm clothes, blankets, and tents increases.