‘Where there is suffering, there is the Cambodian Red Cross” is a slogan which highlights the work of the largest humanitarian institution in Cambodia, the Cambodian Red Cross (CRC).
The CRC was established in 1955, and has worked closely with the International Committee of the Red Cross since then. Besides the national headquarters, there are 25 branches in the Kingdom’s 25 capital and provinces.
CRC president Bun Rany Hun Sen said the CRC adheres to seven fundamental principles: humanity, impartiality, neutrality, independence, voluntary service, unity and universality.
Speaking during a June 1 meeting with King Norodom Sihamoni and Queen Mother Norodom Monineath Sihanouk, First Lady Bun Rany said that it has been three years since the CRC was able to celebrate World Red Cross and Red Crescent Day – traditionally marked on May 8 – due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“The CRC would like to take this opportunity to appeal to generous people from all walks of life and ask for their financial support. In 2022, the national headquarters received more than $16 million in donations, along with two 12-seat vans and food supplies,” she said.
Men Neary Sopheak, first deputy secretary-general of the CRC, said the CRC has contributed to the government’s efforts in preventing the spread of Covid-19 in the community and has played an active role in helping people who have been affected by the Covid-19 crisis, as well as other victims who were in need of assistance.
“There are many challenges facing the people of the Kingdom. We are involved in tackling water supplies, nutrition, the continuation of Covid-19 prevention and generally strengthening community resilience,” she said.
According to a June 1 report detailing the work of the CRC from January 2021 until May 2022 – the organisation has assisted the government by working to protect people against the pandemic, offering relief to those who had been affected by natural disasters and building homes for veterans.
In the past, the CRC provided an emergency budget to each of its branches, who purchased rice, sanitiser gel and alcohol for staff, youth and Red Cross volunteers. The staff and volunteers educated almost three million people via peer-to-peer activities and the use of louderspeaker broadcasts, inspiring them to come forward and be vaccinated.
In addition, the CRC also donated to more than 110,000 families who were living in locked down-red zones at the peak of the pandemic.
The CRC had provided $50,000 to the International Red Cross’s work in Nepal, $10,000 to the Vietnam Red Cross to support its operations and $10,000 to the Myanmar Red Cross.
The CRC also donated cash to families affected by natural disasters and cared for the elderly, orphans, the disabled and indigenous people. It had assisted almost 140,000 families and run successful campaigns which educated the public about traffic safety and the dangers of landmines and unexploded remnants of war.
Ruon Oeun, a resident of Kampong Speu province’s Oral district, said that he had most recently received donations from the CRC in April, although they had helped him beore. He had also been lucky enough to speak with Bun Rany Hun Sen.
“She (Bun Rany Hun Sen) asked me how I was and told me to take care of my health. I am really happy that the CRC president took the time to speak with me. I would like to meet her again – I miss her when I remember our meeting,” he said.
He said he had received 20,000 riel, 25kg of rice, noodles, canned fish, a mosquito net, a blanket, a Krama and shirts.
The CRC constructed 792 houses, of which 628 were donated to impoverished veterans and their families, who live in Bun Rany Sen Chey Damnak Troyoueng village of Pursat province.
In total, the CRC spent more than $6,000 on each family. They drilled 258 pump wells in rural areas, built more than 1,000 latrines and installed 65 facilities forhand-washing. They also provided interest-free loans to 572 families living in mine-affected areas.
In an interview in early May, a veteran from Bun Rany Sen Chey Damnak Troyoueng village said he was happy that his family had received a house from the CRC.
“I am really pleased to have received this home, as well as land which I can farm to support my family. Our living standards have improved a great deal, thanks to the CRC,” he said.
He said he thought of the organisation as a parent that would always do its best to shelter its children from difficult situations.
On the 156th Anniversary of the World Red Cross and Red Crescent Day in 2019, Prime Minister Hun Sen praised the Red Cross’s humanitarian activities, which had contributed to the government’s social protection policy from the beginning.
“I am very proud of the involvement of the CRC, which has contributed greatly to the implementation of the government’s social protection policy. Many of the Cambodian public urgently required help. They got it, thanks to the cooperation between the CRC and the government,” he said.
Bun Rany said the CRC would continue to focus on Covid-19 prevention as its prepares to implement the second-year of its 2021-2030 strategy by further strengthening its 25 capital-provincial branches and 197 sub-branches in town-districts and more than 20,000 volunteers – according to the principles of decentralization-deconcentratization in operations – in four priority areas.
Those priority areas include disaster management and climate change, community health and health care, promoting the values of the movement – human dignity and non-violence – and institutional development.