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Migration crisis, international aid… Monegasque Red Cross activity in 2023

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The Monegasque Red Cross launched an appeal for donations to help victims of the deadly earthquake in Morocco in September. © International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC)

In our first article reviewing the Monegasque Red Cross’ year in 2023 and its future projects, Monaco Tribune looks back at the humanitarian actions carried out by the organisation last year beyond the Principality’s borders.

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The Monegasque Red Cross (MRC) held its traditional start-of-year press conference on Wednesday. With 2024 already underway, let’s take a look back at what the Monegasque branch of the global humanitarian network did last year. In 2023, the number of volunteers reached a record high. “We now have 700, representing 52 nationalities,” said Frédéric Platini, the MRC’s General Secretary.

With a budget of €8m in 2023, as it will be in 2024, the MRC has continued its activities at a local level, which we will cover in an article to be published this weekend, but also internationally, whether a few kilometres from Monaco or on the other side of the globe.

The Monegasque Red Cross presented its review of 2023 on Wednesday. © Monaco Tribune

Migration: more than 10,000 beneficiaries in France and Italy

“We continued our work at the Sainte-Agnès centre for unaccompanied minors.” Claude Fabbretti, Operational Director of Relief and International Action at the MRC, recalled two ‘spikes’ in May and September 2023, “when the reception centres in the Alpes-Maritimes were completely overwhelmed.” The CRM runs weekly ‘edutainment'(educational but fun) activities at the Orméa Centre in Sainte-Agnès.

The organisation also responded to a number of emergencies, for example by making the charity’s volunteer doctors available for health visits to sites such as Fort de la Drète, where around fifty minors were temporarily housed in April and May 2023.

A total of 3,300 young people have been assisted by the MRC, which is also delighted with its partnership with the Princess Grace Hospital since April 2023, enabling unaccompanied minors to receive dental care. “They have no health cover and can sometimes have several dental cavities but, without cover, this isn’t considered a medical emergency,” explained Claude Fabbretti.

“It has been a great help to us because these are issues where we find it hard to engage donors.”

In collaboration with the Pasteur Avenir Jeunesse (P@JE) non-profit in Nice, the MRC continued to provide assistance, hot meals and clothing at the Italian border, in Ventimiglia, for almost 12,000 people. This was made possible by agreements with the Italian Red Cross and, since November 2020, by working together with Caritas Intemelia in Ventimiglia, the only day centre open to migrants.

The MRC also worked with P@JE at a hostel for young migrant girls who are minors, pregnant or mothers. “In response to the charity’s appeal for help, we organised the supply of baby formula and childcare items, and we also organised educational sessions for the young mothers,” explained the head of operations, also mentioning “emergency financial aid” from the Prince’s Government. “It has been a great help to us because these are issues where we find it hard to engage donors.”

International emergency response

Last year, €2.5M of the Monegasque branch’s budget, most of which is allocated by the State, went to international aid. “There is a trend towards increasing the funds allocated to international action,” said Frédéric Platini. The MRC responded to 24 appeals launched by the International Red Cross Committee and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) in 2023. “The biggest ones for us were Morocco, Syria and Turkey,”  said the Secretary General, referring to the three countries that experienced deadly earthquakes in 2023. These disasters prompted several appeals for donations from the Monegasque population, with a satisfactory response: €300,000 was raised to help victims in Turkey and Syria, and 100,000 for the people of Morocco.

12 projects in 10 countries

As well as these initiatives, the MRC carries out a number of projects aimed at improving the living conditions of vulnerable people and communities, on aspects such as protection, education and health, as well as water sanitation, first aid and migration. In Burkina Faso and Côte d’Ivoire, the MRC focuses on protecting children, and in particular young girls, who are subjected to “work, exploitation or trafficking,”  a project that now has 6,500 beneficiaries. A few thousand kilometres from there, in Armenia and Bosnia-Herzegovina, almost 1,500 elderly and isolated people were able to benefit from care and home help services.

On a different theme, in West Africa (Mauritania, Senegal, Niger and Burkina Faso), and in collaboration with the French Red Cross and the IFRC’s World Reference Centre for First Aid, the MRC has been running a project to develop first aid in the workplace. This year, 3,189 first-aiders were trained and 80 companies were supported in the 4 countries.

“Restoring people’s confidence”

Claude Fabbretti also made a general observation. “We are sadly ‘celebrating’ two years of conflict in Ukraine and, since the beginning of October, renewed tensions in the Middle East, at a time when the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is running at a deficit.”  Times are hard for the Committee, which announced 1,800 redundancies in 2023 and the outlook for 2024 does not look any brighter.

“People find it difficult today to understand the role of an organisation like the ICRC, which is neutral and impartial. When there is a conflict, it has to be accepted that an organisation such as ours may visit each side in the conflict,” said Claude Fabbretti. He has been a member of the MRC since 1995, and appeals strongly for donations, the driving force behind humanitarian aid and necessary at both local and, above all, international level. “We need to restore people’s confidence in organisations such as the Red Cross and remind them that our role is to come to the aid of people in difficulty, regardless of their status or the side they are on in a conflict,” concluded the Operational Director of Relief and International Action.

Donations to the Monegasque Red Cross can be made via this page.