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Intervention of Permanent Representative of Greece, Ambassador Alexis Alexandris, Power of Humanity: 32nd International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Cresent, Geneva, 9 December 2015

Friday, 11 December 2015

Intervention of Permanent Representative of Greece, Ambassador Alexis Alexandris, Power of Humanity: 32nd International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Cresent, Geneva, 9 December 2015

Thank you Mme Vice President,

Greece would like to pay  tribute to all the staff and volunteers of the Red Cross movement that have lost their lives, while serving in the line of duty in their effort to uphold the admirable principles on which the Red Cross and Red Crescent movement was founded. We are humbled by the selflessness and strong sense of vocation and dedication of the Red Cross and Red Crescent staff and volunteers as well as that of all  their fellow humanitarian workers who risk, on a daily basis, their lives in various  dangerous parts of the world in order to save human lives.

Saving lives remains the key humanitarian priority for my country as well.  Greece does its utmost to rescue people fleeing from war, terror, poverty and despair while they struggle in their flimsy boats in the sea. The Hellenic coast guard has saved so far more than 90.000 lives  in over 2.500 incidents of search and rescue in the Aegean since the start of the year. The role of the civil society and particularly of the Hellenic Red Cross is also significant in this respect.

Given the conference's strong focus on migration with special attention to vulnerable groups of migrants, we stress that the  system of diagnosis and prompt detection of patients is being used at the eastern Aegean points of entry for the evaluation and treatment of medical needs of refugees and migrants. Medical units are organized on daily basis at the Pre-Departure –Centers as well as 24 hour operation of medical units at the Open Hospitality Centres.

The Secretariat General of Public Health has created  a personal travel health report for the refugees and migrants in collaboration with the IOM and the European Commission using the immediate information concerning their current needs. We have secured adequacy in medicines and health products such as vaccines etc and immediate pharmaceutical coverage for refugees and migrants, from chronic, non communicable diseases. Suffice to say that about 2000 refugees and migrants have been hospitalized in Greece in the last few months, with costs exceeding the sum of 800.000 € of national funds.

Special attention is given to vulnerable people at the migrant reception centres. The Greek authorities are trying their best to meet the needs of unaccompanied children, pregnant women and single parent families by providing them with special protection assistance and by directing relevant EU funds in setting up designated protection centres,  especially for unaccompanied children in close cooperation with NGOs and other humanitarian partners. Also  in the Eleonas open hospitality centre near Athens,  the Hellenic Red Cross is especially involved in providing  phsycho-social support to migrant children in order to help them deal with the trauma of their perilous journey.

Two mobile units of the  Red Cross and Red Crescent have been transferred to Macedonia in northern Greece, near the  refugee hospitality centre at the border with FYROM.

My country very much appreciates the multifaceted humanitarian work performed in Greece  by the Red Cross Committee and  Federation, inter alia in support of our National Society. With this opportunity, we would like to thank also the other National Societies which have so far generously contributed to the IFRC’s relevant operations in Greece. I would also like to thank the IFRC's Secretary General Mr As Sy for his recent successful visit in Greece, which is also a recognition of the existing humanitarian imperatives in our country.

As far as the resolutions of this conference are concerned, allow me to reiterate our support especially for the resolution on the strengthening of the IHL compliance mechanism. Furthermore, regarding the resolution on persons deprived of their liberty , we particularly appreciate references to non international armed conflicts, because we believe that this is exactly the area where a protection gap exists. Also, in accordance with our long standing commitment to supporting the work of the International Humanitarian Fact Finding Commission and the protection of education during armed conflict, we have signed the respective Swiss and Norwegian open pledges.

Finally, Mme President , we wish this conference to be successful in highlighting that the power of our shared humanity will prevail over the threat of wars and protracted crises becoming the "new normal" as Mr Maurer very rightly said during his speech from yesterday. It is our shared  responsibility to keep translating the inspirational ideas of Henry Dunant into meaningful action.

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