By Moeketsi Ntlamelle – HQs

Members of Parliament, District Administrators and District Council Secretaries pledged to include Lesotho Red Cross Society in their plans in the future to ensure that the humanitarian activities reach most vulnerable people in the country.

This was said during the Society’s Auxiliary Role of the Red Cross to public authorities workshop held in Maseru February this year.

In addition, the Lesotho Defense Force representative Brigadier Tsepo V. Tau stated that there are many areas of collaboration that the two institutions can do, from  emergency operations to developmental activities.

He said LDF can assist with vehicles, build houses for OVCs or vulnerable people affected by disasters, ambulance service, chopper etc. He said LDF has a slogan;“Silence the Guns and work towards development by 2020” and focus more on developmental activities.

The Members of Parliament from the Social Cluster and HIV and AIDS Committee urged the Society to disseminate the activities of the Society to Parliamentarians. “ i am blown away by the work that the Society is doing in the country which i did not know about until today”, said  Mrs ‘Mapulumo Hlao.

She added that the work being in done by the Society is assisting the government hence it is the obligation of government and parliament to support the Red Cross in its work.

District Council for Quthing indicated that they can allocate land that can be used for developmental activities and involve the LDF to build structures.

” There is definitely great chance of us working together with the Red Cross. We did not know until today what they really do except to call them when there is a disaster. Now we understand that as District Council Secretaries we have an obligation to include the Red Cross in our annual  budget because they have the skills, manpower to assist us to achieve our goals”, District Council Secretaries said .

The participants encouraged the Society to disseminate information about its activities to the National Assembly, to councils meeting in different districts and also to Chiefs meetings so that they are attuned with it and include them in the government’s annual plans.

The Society through the Secretary General  Mr Kopano Masilo informed the participants that the Society is already a member of the Heads of Departments meetings in the districts , District Disaster Management Teams and many others and “ all is needed is funding to enable the Society to alleviate human suffering by ensuring that everyone is prepared for disasters”.

The District Administrator for Maseru and former First Vice President of the Society’s National Executive Committee MrMpane Nthunya expressed his disappointment that the Principal Secretaries and other government officials who were invited failed to attend such an important Workshop.

He said it is important for the authority to take the Society seriously due to the tremendous work it does in supporting the government during disasters.

Also present at the workshop and taking advantage of the presence of the decision makers of the country was the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) Regional Legal Advisor Ms Sarah Swart.

She outlined progress made by the government of Lesotho on the ratification of treaties and congratulated Lesotho for having ratifies most of the IHL Treaties. She however, cautioned Lesotho that having ratified most treaties does not end there it means more obligation to the government to ensure enforcement of such treaties.

In conclusion she informed the participants that Lesotho Red Cross Society has a role play in International Humanitarian Law (IHL) hence they are member of Lesotho’s National IHL Committee. She requested support.

This was the first workshop held for Parliamentarians and District Administrators together, however a series of other workshops on the same topic were previously held for Heads of Departments in the districts and the concern has always been that the Society should talk to the central government in order to ensure that recommendations made are implemented.

The workshop was attended by 10 District Administrators and District council secretaries, Parliamentarians, media and staff of the Society.