The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) has inaugurated its new headquarters in Geneva that was funded via a Swiss government loan.
“This building is the house of humanity… it is the house of our 191 Red Cross and Red Crescent National Societies and the house of our 14 million volunteers. The International Federation is deeply connected to Geneva and I would like to thank all of you for making us feel so at home here,” IFRC President Francesco Rocca told guests at the inauguration ceremony in Geneva on Monday.
The new CHF59.4 million ($58.3 million) headquarters building was built thanks to an interest-free Swiss government loan. Around 350 IFRC staff currently work there.
The inauguration in Geneva took place the day after the organisation celebrated its 100th anniversary. Known earlier as the League of Red Cross Societies, the IFRCexternal link was created on May 5, 1919 by the American, British, Italian, Japanese and French Red Cross Societies at the end of the First World War to provide humanitarian assistance to vulnerable people in peacetime.
The Swiss Red Cross (SRC) joined in 1920. Geneva has been home to the IFRC secretariat headquarters since the start, except for a brief period in Paris from 1922-39. The SRC has been an ex officio member of the IFRC since 1939 due to its host status.
“We are extremely proud to host the secretariat that coordinates the biggest humanitarian network in the world,” Valentin Zellweger, the Swiss ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva, told the audience at the ceremony.
“Switzerland is delighted that the IFRC is able to celebrate its centenary in larger, modern headquarters which are well integrated in the local area and an example in terms of energy-saving technology.”
Renamed “the Federation” in the early 1990s, the IFRC focuses on helping the most vulnerable affected by disasters and health emergencies around the world.
The founding member of the Red Cross Movement - the Swiss-run International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)external link, established earlier in 1863 - is also based in Geneva. It focuses mainly on helping people affected by conflict and armed violence and promoting the laws that protect victims of war.