By Moses Mugugunyeki
The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), one of the world’s largest humanitarian networks, has set up its cluster office for Zimbabwe, Zambia and Malawi in Harare.
In the past IFRC would support humanitarian activities by Red Cross and Red Crescent national societies in southern Africa through its offices in South Africa.
The setting up of the IFRC cluster office in Harare comes at an opportune time when the global community is battling the Covid-19 pandemic and could be handy in curbing the respiratory disease as well as facilitation of humanitarian activities in the three countries.
IFRC head of country cluster delegation for Zimbabwe, Zambia and Malawi John Anthony Roche yesterday said the idea to set up a cluster office in Harare was meant to facilitate humanitarian action.
“It’s part of an Africa wider renewal strategy we are having to reinforce our presence in clusters,” Roche said.
Founded in 1919, the IFRC has 192 member Red Cross and Red Crescent National Societies, a secretariat in Geneva and more than 60 delegations strategically located to support activities around the world.
Speaking at the handover of oxygen concentrators by IFRC to the Zimbabwe Red Cross Society (ZRCS) recently, Roche said his organisation has donated US$1 million worth of equipment to ZRCS to fight Covid-19.
He said the donation of the 35 oxygen concentrators to the national association would go a long way in reducing the impact of Covid-19, particularly the imminent fourth wave.
“You may say now we are too late with this piece of equipment? I doubt it!” Roche said.
“If you look at the world today, Covid-19 has not gone away, it sits silently and then recurs. If you go to Europe, they are now getting into their fourth or fifth waves.
“The numbers have spiked in many parts of Europe in what looks like a difficult winter ahead.”
ZRCS secretary-general Elias Hwenga said the donation was anchored on the core humanitarian principles of humanity, impartiality, independence and neutrality.
“This donation we are receiving today [last Monday] is in sync with the fundamental principle of universality, where all components of the Red Cross Movement have equal status and share equal responsibilities and duties in helping each other,” Hwenga said.
Hwenga said the oxygen concentrators, which use atmospheric oxygen, were sourced from the Singapore Red Cross through IFRC.
“At the peak of Covid-19 third wave resurgence around July, the IFRC requested for the Zimbabwe Red Cross Society’s needs so they could help mobilise resources,” he said.
“And we want to acknowledge the tremendous support which we received from the IFRC who managed to get 35 oxygen concentrators from Singapore Red Cross Society.
“We want to acknowledge this support from the IFRC, including meeting the shipping costs.”
Hwenga said the oxygen concentrators would be used at the Red Cross Clinic in Harare.