Today, 08th February marks 20 years of NRCS existence. Although the Red Cross flag was first flown in 1956 under the South Africa Red Cross, it was not until 1991 that Namibia Red Cross Act (no. 16 of 1991) was passed by the Namibian parliament and the following year the First Annual General Meeting was held that saw the establishment of Namibia Red Cross Society as a humanitarian body. It was from 1992 that NRCS began working in Namibia and established a permanent presence in the country.
The NRCS 20th birthday is celebrated in all eight regions of the country where it operates. NRCS will be commemorating its 20th milestone throughout 2012 and the birthday is just one of the key events to be celebrated this year. The main objective of the birthday commemoration is to look at the past achievements, examine the present and prepare for the future as well as to highlight magnificent contribution of the Red Cross family including volunteers who have been working tirelessly in saving lives. The celebration also form part of thanking the donors, partners, the government of Namibia and the Namibian nation for the mental and physical effort, material and financial assistance, technical support and close cooperation in support of humanitarian activities. These meaningful activities have further the NRCS to continue its duties and mission more actively and effectively to rescue those affected by disasters in the country and beyond. Speakers at the event include Former Robben Island prisoner and current Patron of NRCS Andimba Toivo Ya Toivo. Ya toivo shares his experience with the Red Cross Movement and how he benefited from the Red Cross as a prisoner, while NRCS chairman Professor Peter Katjavivi highlights on some of NRCS remarkable achievements.
One year after independence, NRCS in support of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has been working with the authorities to improve knowledge of and respect for International Humanitarian Law (IHL) in government and the armed forces. Today NRCS has expanded its IHL activities and work closely with the Ministry of Justice, University of Namibia School of Law, SADC Tribunal just to mention a few. The National Society has been very instrumental in promoting peace, humanitarian values and fundamental principles.
As the only humanitarian organization in Namibia, the National Society is committed to provide excellent humanitarian services to those affected by disasters such as the seasonal floods, HIV and AIDS, food insecurity and other vulnerabilities. The Red Cross is supporting the government in their humanitarian tasks according to the priority needs of the country. Autonomous to the government, the national society operates with the government at different levels in the prevention of disasters, promotion of health and the mitigation of human suffering through various programs for the benefit of the communities.
NRCS Disaster Management Unit has been the most active in the past years, responding to flood and health emergencies. Households were flooded and some destroyed, access to schools and clinics were cut, bridges destroyed and crops submerged. With the support of the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent (IFRC), emergency appeal was launched to mobilize resources. NRCS also mobilized locally which recorded a great success in its history. Today, NRCS continues to respond to respond to disasters. With the current flood, NRCS was part of the team that evacuated affected people to high ground, provides basic relief items, constructs shelters in two constituencies in Omusati regions and NRCS volunteers are on standby to provide hygiene promotion in the camps.
Happy 20th Birthday Namibia Red Cross!