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Johannesburg: Red Cross Red Crescent commits to closer co-operation with governments to assist the most vulnerable

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The Red Cross and Red Crescent in Africa aims to intensify cooperation and dialogue with governments and other partners for the benefit of vulnerable communities on the continent. This promise came at the end of the 7th Pan African Conference, a three day meeting designed to set bench marks for Red Cross Red Crescent action in Africa for the coming four years.

The Johannesburg Commitment, the outcome document of the conference, also seeks to ensure that communities are in the forefront of designing and delivering effective solutions to the increasing number of humanitarian challenges facing African people.

The Commitment stresses further the need to strengthen partnerships with regional and international organisations, NGOs, donors and with groups sharing similar ideals and strong interest in community and volunteer action.

"All partnerships must be based on consultation and mutual respect. They must be formed around community efforts to address HIV and AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria and other diseases," said Ms. Mandisa Kalako-Williams, Secretary-General of the South African Red Cross Society and the chair of the Pan African Conference.

"It's our volunteers who are the backbone of the work in the communities."

In addition to extensive health programmes, the 53 African National Societies will commit to developing their capacity to address the needs of migrants, to ensure food security, engage in proactive violence prevention and take meaningful steps to reduce the vulnerability of communities to increasingly severe and frequent natural disasters.

"Together we can reduce vulnerability and make major inroads against the challenges that this continent faces. These are not mere aspirations - our volunteers are doing this every day in every village, town and city across Africa - but there is so much more to do. We believe in Africa" said Mr. Bekele Geleta, the Secretary General of the International Federation in his speech in the closing ceremony of the Pan African conference.

The International Federation launched earlier this week a Believe in Africa campaign to urge media and humanitarian organizations better to promote positive stories from the continent. A competition for African-based media under the theme Good news for Africa has been launched as part of this campaign. Competition winners will announced during the General Assembly of the Federation in Nairobi, in November 2009.

For more information on the campaign and the competition, please visit www.ifrc.org/pac/

For further information, or to set up interviews, please contact:

In Johannesburg:

Matthew Cochrane, IFRC Communications manager, Tel: +27 83 395 52 66
Ipetla Moatshe, South African Red Cross Society, Tel: +27 82 331 6864
Noora Kero, IFRC Communications manager, Tel: +27 76 635 6059

In Geneva:

Pierre Kremer, IFRC Head of Communications, Tel: +41 79 226 4832