Sait Saiti, Secretary General of the Macedonian Red Cross: It is not true that Macedonia has forgotten Croatia
Although the Republic of Croatia is faced with damage in areas affected by the floods, as a member of the European Union (EU) it has never asked Macedonia for help, says the General Secretary of the Macedonian Red Cross, Sait Saiti categorically. In an interview for Inbox7, Saiti says that allegations that the Red Cross is disorganized and these days it has been abusing the aid arriving from all corners of the country are meaningless
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1. Inbox7: Mr. Saiti, after the floods that hit Croatia part of the public reacted including the Croatian Community in Macedonia, that the Macedonian country has forgotten Croatia, hence the question whether the Red Cross will send help there?
Saiti: As for Croatia, our national company constantly communicates with theirs. Estimates from the field indicate that the floods in Croatia are in the range of possibilities of handling by the Croatian authorities themselves. Taking into account the capabilities of the Croatian state for using EU funds, they have estimated that for now there is no need to involve some sort of assistance from outside the country’s borders. We have also been addressed by the Croatian Community in Macedonia. We told them that we were in constant contact with their country which says that for now it does not need any help. But in the next few days if we receive such a request, we will provide assistance.
2. Inbox7: These days we could read and hear accusations that the Red Cross is insufficiently organized and in a way interferes with the work of others who want to donate humanitarian aid to Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) because they had transportation problems at the border. How do you respond to such accusations?
Saiti: I would not agree with everything. When you try to do some work then there will always be those who will try in their not working and inability to contribute to engage and look for something that the other does not have at that moment. I most responsibly claim that the Red Cross from the first day, last Saturday when the national companies of Serbia and BiH requested assistance for the first time, immediately got involved. On Sunday, for which you are witnesses, there was a whole flow of aid that was destined for the affected areas and the Red Cross managed to completely collect it during the week. On Sunday night, Sunday to Monday, for the next day, we managed to prepare five trucks with 100 tons of food for the affected in Serbia and BiH to set off. If someone sees unpreparedness or slow response of the Red Cross in this, then I cannot help much.
- Inbox7: Please explain what should be done to transport humanitarian aid outside of Macedonia?
We probably gained the right to be seen in this situation because inside we have proved and shown to be an agency that possesses qualities and internal resources that can respond to such a situation. This is not just the material, technical and human resources, but also the opportunities for monitoring and compliance with everything which means norm and normative operation. Humanitarian aid delivery in a foreign country is subject to legal procedures that are applicable in the country for any other export. So far in the affected areas we have taken about 500 tons of humanitarian aid, as Red Cross, I do not speak for other organizations and civic initiatives. It has been distributed in 25 packages. For each shipment individually documents are prepared which are required by regulations of the Republic of Macedonia relating to taking humanitarian aid out of the country, and documents adequate to regulations that other countries, where the aid goes to, have. Our aid sets off from Skopje Customs and arrives at the Customs in Belgrade. We do not stop or have no right to it. Our shipments have a deliverer Macedonia and a receiver Red Cross of Serbia and BiH.
4. Inbox7: Apart from your competencies that are organized by law, tell us who and how can donate aid abroad?
Saiti: I am not saying that the Red Cross is unique and no one has told us that we are absolutely unique. I guess anyone who wants to work on the theme humanitarian aid inside and outside will have to respect the rules, regulations and laws to regulate such procedures. I have nothing more to add, everyone can work, we can neither ban, nor can anyone authorize us to do so.
5. Inbox7: You mentioned that the Macedonian Red Cross has so far donated around 500 tons of aid distributed in 25 packages. What other way are you going to help Serbia and BiH to cope with floods?
Saiti: Our activities in this direction are dated May 31, 2014. Until then collecting humanitarian aid is being implemented, delivering it to the affected population of Serbia and BiH, of course adequately to the assessment and needs of those areas. Along with that we have activated other tools and forms to help in such situations. These are the three donation lines that Red Cross holds in contract with the three mobile operators activated periodically for such activities. As of today, about 9.5 million denars have been collected from the donation lines. As a regular form, our solidarity account is used again that is absolutely for that purpose and serves only for such situations and is not part of current operations. Around 2.7 million denars have been collected on it as of today. Calculated in Euros it is around 200,000 Euros. I sincerely hope that by the end of the month much more will be raised. After this we will do the same by regular operations, including all mechanisms of control and public. The money will be divided according to the remittance if there is one or according to the purpose which people state as help.
6. Inbox7: Do you have an appeal to the citizens?
Saiti: We remain committed and active in this section. You said efficient and effective, I would add channeled into all operations. Furthermore, according to the estimates that we get from our colleagues in Serbia and BiH regarding the needs of the population there and taking into account the new point in the sense that the floods have already reduced and the next phase is rehabilitation or taking the people back to their homes. It requires a new way of behavior. Therefore it changes the appeal for what is to be donated. The needs for drinking water stop at this point. Even the food is in satisfactory quantities. There is a need for hygiene and disinfection products, something that will be necessary for citizens returning to their homes. If we want, and I do not doubt that we want to be humane and we will be human, activities should continue by providing funds through donation lines and payment through our solidarity bank account. Also by organization of various cultural and sports activities which in the end have a financial impact. This will motivate citizens in their participation to donate and it will be a great contribution to what means help to these people.