Speech delivered at the IFRC East Asia Leadership Group meeting

On behalf of the IFRC, I welcome you all to this East Asia Leadership meeting. It is an honour to join you here in Hong Kong, and I am very much looking forward to the discussions that will follow.

If we look at the country-to-country relationships among the five nations represented here, there are certain tensions between each. Of course, this is not the case for the Red Cross Red Crescent, and indeed makes our meeting, of five National Societies in East Asia, even more important and worthwhile. I encourage each of you to pursue such dialogue beyond any political context across the East Asian states.

I am very grateful to Hong Kong Red Cross for their excellent support and arrangements in helping us all to gather here to discuss our plans, our policies, and issues of common concern.

This meeting is of particular importance in the light of our upcoming General Assembly, which takes place in Sydney in November. This is an excellent opportunity to prepare for the Statutory Meetings, and explore the issues that matter most to our beneficiaries, and to our National Societies and their Federation.

One of the growing concern in the Federation and myself as its leader is Movement coordination. It would be interesting if I can hear the opinions from East Asian National Societies on this topic. For instance, the DPRK Red Cross has been experiencing a good CAS model. This would be one of the topics of interest in this context.

Of course, while we will keep one eye on Sydney in November, the demands and challenges of this vast and beautiful region will occupy our thoughts and our time.

Just last week, the Red Cross Society of China responded to another tragic earthquake that killed around a hundred people in Dingxi in Gansu province. Many other response and recovery activities are taking place in response to medium and small-scale disasters in many other countries as I speak.

And yet, among the tragedies and the challenges, we have so many strong examples of lives being changed, of lives and livelihoods being improved, and of National Societies doing what they do best – protecting the most vulnerable people in their countries and region, working with their governments as independent auxiliaries, and leading by example through the power of humanity and the spirit of togetherness.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Here in Hong Kong, the East Asia Region has just held its first training course for young humanitarians who want to transform their communities through the Youth as Agents of Behavioural Change programme.

In mainland China, recovery and reconstruction work after the Lushan earthquake in April is moving into high gear.

In DPRK you are facing the challenges of annual flooding and have been doing valuable work to boost the nation’s preparedness

The Mongolian Red Cross has carried out a nationwide vulnerability capacity assessment, as one of the few National Societies to apply this important IFRC tool nationwide.

In the Republic of Korea, as I saw first-hand during my recent visit, the Heemang Pooncha programme is providing livelihood and psychosocial support to the most vulnerable and marginalized people, such as children living without parents, senior citizens living alone, migrants and immigrants.

In Japan, we continue to address the social and health problems caused by the March 2011 complex disaster. My National Society and the IFRC have recently completed a rehabilitation assessment that will provide a number of recommendations that will be of benefit to the entire global network.

With JICA and KOICA, the Federation has signed Memoranda of Understanding. The Chinese government has shown its enthusiasm to do more humanitarian work via the Red Cross Society of China. In these countries, the respective National Societies are expected to function as good linkers.

Ladies and gentlemen,

During the next two days, we will hear a lot more detail about all these topics and programmes, and the strategy and plans that underlie them. And we will have many opportunities to exchange experiences and points of view, which make these meetings especially valuable.

I wish you all a productive and fruitful meeting.

Thank you very much.