Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia & Albania: Visit of ICRC and International Federation Presidents to the region
14-04-1999 News Release 99/15
ICRC President Cornelio Sommaruga says the crisis in the Balkans amounts to a political and social catastrophe with tremendous humanitarian consequences. Speaking at a meeting of National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies in Geneva on Tuesday, Mr Sommaruga emphasized that the Movement had to take every precaution to retain its independence from the political players in the conflict, in order to assist and protect the victims on all sides.
President Sommaruga paid tribute to the Red Cross Societies of Albania and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, which had taken action to help refugees as soon as the crisis developed. Mention was also made of the work of the Yugoslav Red Cross to assist victims of the NATO bombing.
The President of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, DrAstrid Heiberg, said the situation in the Balkans was the most difficult challenge facing the Movement today, both because of its complexity and for the difficulties encountered in reaching the victims. She stressed the need for close coordination between all the Movement's members to ensure an effective and rational response.
The meeting was called to coordinate Red Cross action for the victims of the crisis. DrHeiberg and Mr Sommaruga flew yesterday afternoon to the region for talks with the authorities and the Red Cross in Albania and Macedonia.