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The 8th MENA Conference
    At the close of the 8th Middle East and North Africa (MENA) Conference, held in the Iranian capital Tehran, 104 participants from across the region expressed their commitment and support for the Tehran Declaration which was announced by the Mr Georges Kittaneh, Secretary General of the Lebanese Red Cross Society (LRCS). 

    The two dominant themes arising throughout the 3 day conference were the importance of protecting relief workers and volunteers and the need to strengthen the levels of coordination and cooperation between National Societies across the region. Gathering together under the theme "Partnership for Humanity", the participants also reflected on the difficult humanitarian situation facing the region and its implications on the activities of MENA National Societies, especially in relation to the Syria crisis. 

    "We call upon all components of the Movement to take all possible measures to provide more effective humanitarian assistance to the affected people in the humanitarian crisis in the region particularly in Syria and the affected neighbouring countries and in Palestine," stated the Declaration. The Tehran Declaration also emphasised the critical importance of protecting staff and volunteers in the line of duty and called upon all components of the Red Cross Red Crescent Movement to "take the necessary measures and steps to ensure the protection of relief workers and volunteers and staff, especially in disasters and crisis." The MENA Zone National Societies were also urged to provide their volunteers with comprehensive and adequate insurance duty whilst on duty. 

    “With the growing diversity and complexity of vulnerabilities, disasters and crises in the region, this Conference, under the theme of “Partnership for Humanity” offers a good opportunity to MENA National Societies to discuss the challenges and the opportunities of our humanitarian mission to ensure availability of our services for the most vulnerable in sufficient quantity and quality” said Elias Ghanem, Director of Middle East and North Africa Zone. 

    The Conference focused on 3 key themes namely the enhancement of disaster management and risk reduction in the MENA region, strengthening the capacities and the role of youth and the promotion of peace and non-violence. It was widely agreed that ongoing efforts in Disaster Risk Reduction and resilience building should be supported across the region that the guidelines for International Disaster Response Laws (IDRL) should be more widely advocated to decision makers. The Conference participants, many of whom come from countries facing situations of violence and conflict, also recognised the need to bridge cultural divides and promote peace and non violence at community level. 

    The issue of Red Cross Red Crescent youth was also a prominent focus of discussion through the 3-day conference. Given the MENA region has a dynamic, young population, the National Societies were able to exchange ideas and experiences concerning the recruitment and retention of youth volunteers. The Declaration stated a commitment on the part of the National Societies to revise existing procedures and where necessary grant youth and volunteers of a certain age the right to vote and enable them to play a greater role in decision making. 

    In closing, Dr Abolhasan Faghih, President of the Red Crescent Society of the Islamic Republic of Iran, announced Iraqi Red Crescent Society as the host of the 9th MENA Conference. All the participants expressed their sincere thanks to the Red Crescent Society of the Republic of Iran for their first class organisation and warm welcome in Iran.

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