Over a decade into the past
Following the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami, the International Federation of Red Cross Red Cresent Societies and number of Partner National Societies became engaged in the Tsunami relief and recovery operations in the Maldives. The extensive interventions from IFRC and Partner National Societies served as an introduction of the Red Cross Red Crescent Movement to the Maldivian Community.
The process of establishing a National Society began in 2005, initiated by a group of volunteers from the Maldivian community who recognized the need for a Red Cross Red Crescent Society in the Maldives, that will provide humanitarian services to vulnerable segments of the Maldivian population. Since 2007, the process was led by the Interim Planning Group (IPG) with the support of the IFRC delegation in the county. The process involved two main elements: a) legal recognition through national legislation (an MRC Act) and b) subsequent institutional formation through the completion of MRC’s first General Assembly and a process to develop MRC into a relevant, well-functioning Red Crescent Organization, with presence and activities across the country, eventually leading to international recognition by the ICRC and membership in the IFRC.
A new National Society was born
On 28th April 2009 the Maldivian Red Crescent Act was passed by the Maldivian Parliament. President Mohamed Nasheed ratified the Maldivian Red Crescent Act on 7th May 2009. On 16th August 2009, the First General Assembly of the Maldivian Red Crescent took place in Male’. This inaugural General Assembly was held three months after the MRC law was ratified and enacted.
The ceremony to inaugurate the Maldivian Red Crescent was officiated by the President of the Republic of Maldives, HE Mohamed Nasheed, who said that the work to establish the Red Crescent had been “laborious”. He also stressed how the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami had prompted the need for a National Society. Acknowledging the work carried out by the Red Cross in the aftermath of the Tsunami, he said, “no Maldivian is unaware of the extent of what I call a beautiful piece of work done by the Red Cross Red Crescent in the Maldives.”
The General Assembly elected the first governing board of the Maldivian Red Crescent. Nine members were elected, with the tenth appointed by the government, in line with the national society’s statues. The board members were elected from amongst 80 representatives drawn from Male’ and the country’s atolls. They include men and women, young and old, nurses, teachers, shopkeepers as well as divers, mechanics, and businesspeople. The board and representatives make up the first registered volunteers of the Maldivian Red Crescent.