An inspired group of Red Cross employees and volunteers greeted the President of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, Francesco Rocca, last Thursday as he gave an impassioned talk at the organization’s Greater New York HQ.
Rocca visited the New York Red Cross two days after speaking at the United Nations as part of the Global Compact for Migration, an international agreement on migration prepared under the auspices of the UN. (read the recent IFRC report on migration)
During Rocca’s NY Red Cross event, nearly 100 staff gathered to hear from the IFRC leader, who started volunteering with the Red Cross in Italy in 1988. During his Q and A, Rocca provided insight on many global issues and relief efforts, including migration crises around the world.
Rocca’s role as President of the IFRC, which started in November of 2017, has allowed him to travel extensively and see firsthand the work of the Red Cross Red Crescent and meet those who help carry out their mission in areas such as Cox’s Bazar, Damascus, and the Gaza Strip.
In one of the more poignant moments of the discussion, Rocca described his meeting with a Red Crescent volunteer who was recently wounded in the Gaza Strip for a second time.
“I couldn’t stop crying because I was sitting on his bed and he was laughing, smiling, joking, and saying, ‘President, I want to assist everyone in need. Jews and Muslims. Israeli and Palestine,’” said Rocca. “This is what we have to protect. It was really a magic moment to listen to this voice from someone who has been living in a conflict for many years.”
Interacting with both people in need and volunteers around the world has given Rocca a unique perspective on the work of the Red Cross.
“There are different priorities everywhere but the magic thing is the way we live the [Fundamental] Principles. The way we approach the needs of our communities is the same!” said Rocca. “This is our richness.”
Throughout the hour-long discussion, Rocca continued to come back to the familial aspect of the Red Cross Red Crescent, expressing his gratitude for the passionate employees and volunteers who he has the privilege of working with.
“I feel very lucky because wherever I go, there is a really committed national society,” said Rocca. “I feel at home everywhere!”
Along with his IFRC role, Rocco also serves as president of the Italian Red Cross.