Published: 11:04, April 3, 2024 | Updated: 17:24, April 3, 2024
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ICRC official praises China for humanitarian assistance
By Zhou Jin in Boao, Hainan

International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) Vice-President Gilles Carbonnier speaks during the Xiangshan Forum in Beijing on Oct 31, 2023. (PHOTO / AFP)

China is playing a very important role in providing global humanitarian assistance, a senior official of the International Committee of the Red Cross said, expressing hope for enhancing communication and cooperation with the country.

"We see that with the China International Development Cooperation Agency, there is an increased engagement of China in terms of humanitarian and development assistance," ICRC Vice-President Gilles Carbonnier told China Daily in an exclusive interview.

China is not only a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, but also a major economy and major power, which underlines the country's role in global humanitarian affairs, he said.

Carbonnier praised China, one of the first signatories of the Geneva Conventions, for its dedication to international humanitarian responsibilities.

Noting that China has sent medical teams and personnel to various countries and regions since 1963, he said the ICRC is exploring how the two sides can further cooperate, aside from the country's own medical assistance overseas and the support that China is providing.

He said that several months ago, the ICRC had an exchange with a Chinese medical team on delivering medical assistance in challenging and fragile situations.

Furthermore, the ICRC procures 250,000 solar lamps annually from China and distributes them to more than 30 countries, Carbonnier said.

China is one of the ICRC's largest global procurement sources. The organization began purchasing aid supplies from China in 2010.

These supplies are distributed by the ICRC to communities affected by conflicts in countries such as Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Nigeria, South Sudan, Syria and Yemen.

In the conflict areas, frequent interruptions of the electricity supply are normal, and many people don't even have access to electricity, according to the ICRC.

The organization worked with a Chinese company to develop an innovative, multifunctional solar lamp to deal with the situation, Carbonnier said.

The lamps help ensure the security of refugees and displaced people at night, and they enable children to continue their studies, he said, adding that the lamps also serve as emergency chargers for mobile phones.

"This is an innovation that is very popular with hundreds of thousands of displaced people," he said.

Carbonnier also expressed grave concern over the devastating humanitarian situation in Gaza.

"Civilians and civilian infrastructure must be protected from military operations, so people can get access to essential services," he said.

He also called for putting humanity first, which means elevating respect for and compliance with international humanitarian law as a political priority. He added that hostages should be released unconditionally.

Carbonnier said the ICRC welcomes all support for strengthening medical assistance, as well as efforts to find solutions to the downward spiral of violence and suffering.

Since the outbreak of the Gaza conflict, China has provided cash aid and two shipments of emergency humanitarian supplies, including food, medicine and medical supplies, to the Gaza Strip through Egypt, according to the Foreign Ministry.