President Uhuru Kenyatta Friday commended the Kenya Red Cross Society (KRCS) for its humanitarian work in the country.
The President who was speaking during the Kenya Red Cross Society’s 50th Anniversary and World Red Cross Day at Kenyatta International Convention Centre (KICC) said he was proud to have KRCS as a strong partner of the Government of Kenya.
He recalled various initiatives undertaken by the society to relieve Kenyans of suffering during emergencies, commending it for its leadership role during the 2010/11 Horn of Africa crisis. At the time, Kenya Red Cross Society raised more than $10 million to help people who were hard hit by drought.
“The compassion and impartiality that you have shown throughout your time in Kenya resonate powerfully in a country, and a world, where these values are not always in evidence,” said President Kenyatta.
He noted that KRCS’s good work began in Kenya long before independence.
“Indeed, we ought to begin the story a little before that. Some of you might not remember that the Red Cross defended the rights of Africans in the last, violent days of colonial tyranny,” said the President.
He applauded the KRCS for its recent entrepreneurship initiatives, saying they opened the way to sustainability giving it the independence it requires.
President Kenyatta said his government will continue partnering with the Kenya Red Cross Society in disaster and emergency preparedness.
He said this will be achieved by first improving ability to predict and prevent disasters and also by being more resilient in the face of calamity.
These goals, said the President, can be achieved by tapping into the long experience, and the international expertise, that the Red Cross offers.
Devolution Cabinet Secretary Anne Waiguru said the government will continue working closely with the Kenya Red Cross to deal with emergencies like famine and other disasters.
KRCS Secretary General Abbas Gullet thanked the government for its support including zero rating VAT and waiving import duties for goods imported by the society.
He also thanked the Government for giving the International Red Cross and Red Crescent societies diplomatic status with accompanying privileges.
“This society has benefitted immensely not only from financial support over the years but more importantly recently over tax waivers which you, when you were the minister for finance and Deputy Prime Minister took to parliament in 2008 aftermath of post-election violence and we can always remember your generosity in this,” he said.
Gullet said the KRCS works very closely and no one should be misled that the society works at cross purposes with the Kenya Government.
“If there is anyone doubting and thinking that Kenya Red Cross isn’t working closely with the government then I want to say from the lowest level in a village to the highest level of the presidency, Kenya Red Cross works very closely and quietly without having to make too much noise in what we do on a daily basis,” he said.