in Solferino in June couldn’t help being inspired.
Five hundred youth from nearly 150 countries gathered in
northern Italy to mark 150 years since the battle of Solferino,
which sparked the International Red Cross and Red Crescent
Movement. The dry fields of Solferino crackled with intelligence,
energy, focus and humanitarian spirit.
These youth leaders — and the tens of millions of
Red Cross Red Crescent youth volunteers they represent — need
all the resources they can muster. Youth volunteers are often
the first to respond to conflict, disaster or pandemics.
And they are also often among those worst affected by crisis.
The challenges facing them now and in the future are daunting.
Conflict, poverty, migration, violence, climate change, sickness
and discrimination have no easy solutions. Youth in the Red
Cross Red Crescent Movement need the support of the wider
Movement. Again, it won’t always be easy…
Youth, almost by definition, challenge the status quo. The
youth meeting culminated in the presentation of a Youth Declaration,
agreed in Solferino, to the international community in Geneva
including representatives of the United Nations, the Swiss
government and the Movement. The declaration challenges everyone
to engage youth more in leadership, to include vulnerable
people in decision-making and to declare that any discrimination
(including that based on gender and sexual orientation) is
Now it’s up to the Movement. If we accept the challenge,
the result will be a more inclusive and responsive Movement.
We will be living up to the promise of Henry Dunant’s
dream. The youth meeting will remain a personal highlight
for many of those who attended. But the real work started
when they left. Let us all say “thank you in advance” to
youth for their humanitarian actions now and in the future
to tackle today’s ‘Solferinos’.
We at Red Cross Red Crescent magazine — which will
relaunch in 2010 with a new look and a new editor — also
thank our readers in advance for showing their humanitarian
spirit. Simple gestures make a difference. Make yours.