Minister of Foreign Affairs Ine Eriksen Søreide talking with ICRC president Peter Maurer. Credit: Wera Helstrøm, MFA
Minister of Foreign Affairs Ine Eriksen Søreide on 15 April discussed humanitarian efforts related to the coronavirus pandemic with Peter Maurer, the President of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). The Foreign Minister announced Norway’s contribution of NOK 30 million to the International Red Cross Red Crescent Movement, to be distributed between the ICRC and the national societies.
Their conversation centred on people affected by armed conflict, as it is now particularly difficult to reach these groups with humanitarian assistance.
‘The Red Cross Red Crescent movement are front line responders in many crisis-stricken countries, working to fight the pandemic, and the work they do in conflict areas is crucial. It is important for Norway to support the work that is being carried out locally,’ said Ms Eriksen Søreide.
ICRC President Maurer explained how the ICRC is adjusting its response and increasing the focus on Covid-19 response in a number of countries. The ICRC and IFRC have appealed for support to its Covid-19 response, for ICRC in 36 countries, including South Sudan, Afghanistan, Yemen, Syria and Ukraine. The efforts are being closely coordinated with the World Health Organization (WHO) and, where they exist, local health authorities.
‘It is important to continue efforts to protect populations during the pandemic,’ the Minister of Foreign Affairs said. ‘We especially appreciate the ICRC’s work to strengthen protection against sexualised and gender-based violence. The mental health efforts of the Red Cross Red Crescent Movement are also important. People already living in difficult circumstances could have a hard time coping with the isolation and restrictions associated with infection control measures.’
Along with IFRC and more than 190 national societies, the ICRC is part of the International Red Cross Red Crescent Movement. National societies play a formal role in national crisis preparedness and response. The movement takes part in all phases of humanitarian efforts: prevention, response and reconstruction.
On 25 March, Norway also announced a NOK 90 million contribution to the United Nations’ global humanitarian response to the coronavirus pandemic.