THE HUMANITARIAN FRONTLINE: CONVERSATIONS WITH LEONARD BLAZEBY

Ashleigh Pisani for THE GUARDIAN
Tuesday September 23

On the second day of the 2014 SAMUNC conference, delegates were privileged to hear an address from Leonard Blazeby, a Head of Mission from the International Committee of the Red Cross.

In a wide-ranging talk, he provided a fascinating insight into the role of ICRC and explained how they fit in on the international stage.

Their core activities are to offer protection and assistance to those who have been adversely affected by armed conflict.

Mr Blazeby described the ICRC as a neutral, impartial and independent organisation, made up of more than 12,000 employees who operate mainly in armed conflict zones.

Given that neutrality and independence are central to the ICRC’s platform, this sometimes can make it difficult to access conflict zones, he said.

Mr Blazeby cited Syria as an example of a country that is very challenging for the ICRC to provide humanitarian support to.

However, he did note that the ICRC sometimes endure terrible costs to stay true to their core principles of impartiality, independence and confidentiality.

When it comes to “witnessing something dreadful,” it was sometimes better not to report it or go to the press because if they do so they will lose access to those in desperate need Mr Blazeby says.

Ultimately, “we only care about those on the ground.”

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