International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies :
Marie-Françoise Borel, Public Information Officer,
Tel: + 41 22 730 43 46 / + 41 79 217 33 45
International Association of Lions Clubs
Dane LaJoye, Public Relations Division Manager,
Tel: + 1 630 468 6764,
OAK BROOK, IL USA, and Geneva, March 27, 2009 – The International Association of Lions Clubs (LCI) and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) have joined forces in order to strengthen the essential role volunteers play in preparing for disasters and in responding to emergencies at the community level.
At a ceremony to mark the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the two institutions, Albert F. Brandel, president of the International Association of Lions Clubs, said: "Lions Clubs International and its network of 45,000 clubs in 206 countries have long provided relief to victims of natural disasters. The Memorandum between Lions Clubs International and the International Federation will further strengthen our ability to respond in time of need, and should be viewed as mutually beneficial."
In his remarks, IFRC Secretary General Bekele Geleta pointed out that well-trained volunteers can achieve positive and sustainable changes in their community, because they are there before, during and after disaster strikes. They can make a real difference in reducing the impact of disasters and play a vital role in empowering communities to be prepared for crisis.
"To achieve our humanitarian goals and create a culture of prevention, we must improve the situation of our volunteers all over the world. We must strongly advocate for better volunteer management practices, internationally and nationally," he explained. "Because we are facing major challenges posed by global disasters linked to climate change and economic crises, it is vital we do this in cooperation with partners, like the Lions, who also operate at the community level. Together we can build safer and more resilient communities."
Projects will be developed at the local level, focusing on disaster preparedness and response, and on the promotion of volunteerism, as well as on programs to build up the operational capacity of their volunteers all over the world. This cooperation will encourage activities, which meet local needs.
Founded in 1917, LCI is the world's largest service club organization with 1.35 million members in more than 45,000 clubs in 206 countries and geographic territories. Lions members work together to answer needs at the community level, funding projects that range from cleaning up parks to providing people affected by disasters with emergency supplies. The Lions ALERT program works closely with local emergency responders. (For more information: www.lionsclubs.org)
With 186 member Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and some 100 million volunteers, the IFRC is the world's largest humanitarian network. Its mission is to improve the situation of the most vulnerable people. Founded in 1919, it works to strengthen the capacity of its member Societies to carry out effective disaster preparedness and disaster response activities as well as health and social programs. (For more information: www.ifrc.org)
The Federation, the national Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and the International Committee of the Red Cross together constitute the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement. For further information on Federation activities, please see our web site: www.ifrc.org