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Greek Red Cross under pressure to avoid IFRC expulsion & international humiliation

The Greek Red Cross is in the process of being expelled by the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Federation (IFRC) for failing to comply with the requirements of the Federation. Two relevant decisions have been “frozen” so far and the IFRC has given an ultimatum to HRC to have complied with the requirements by 1. January 2019.

In a statement the IFRC said “the Governing Board of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) has voted to suspend the membership of the Hellenic Red Cross. The suspension of membership will come into force on 1 January 2019 if Hellenic Red Cross is unable to address concerns related to its governance.

The IFRC has been asked to develop a transition plan over the next three months to ensure that services to vulnerable communities do not suffer, the statement stressed adding that “the  decision follows the non-completion of the long standing recovery plan over the past 10 years.”

In an interview with the radio of the Greek state-run news agency amna, General Secretary for Public Health Yiannis Baskozos said that the Greek health ministry was doing everything possible to save the Greek chapter and ensure that it can continue to perform its humanitarian work.

In order for this to happen, however, the management of the HRC had to complete specific changes demanded by the IFRC, he noted, adding that the local chapter’s elected board “bears sole responsibility” for ensuring that this happens.

He noted that the expulsion of HRC has to do with the previous administrations and mismanagement.

According to Greek media, reasons for the expulsion are failure to meet its financial obligations, undemocratic operation and failure to carry out its humanitarian tasks as defined by the rules of the IFRC.

The government had persuaded the international Federation to give the HRC another six months to fix these issues before proceeded with a decision to suspend and ultimately expel the Greek chapter but the new board that emerged following an election on June 3 had failed to meet at least one of the commitments the chapter had made, Baskozos added.

On Thursday, media reported that the IFRC has already sent the expulsion notification to the HRC.

The HRC published a statement saying “So far, we have not been notified of any such decision,” and outlined a series of steps to took since the board election in order to comply with the Federation’s requirements.

Later, the President of Greek Red Cross, Nikolaos Oikonomopoulos, confirmed he received an IFRC notification which was announcing the postponement of the expulsion to 1. January 2019. The HRC has time until then to comply with the requirements.

The International Federation had taken the decision to expel the Greek chapter already in 2013. the decision was “frozen.” The then HRC president  Andreas Martinis was removed from office in 2016 after being arrested for suspected bribes and economic mismanagement in the HRC affiliated hospital “Errikos Dynan.”.

A second decision was taken also in September 2017, which has been also “frozen” so far.

If the Greek Red Cross fails to comply with the very last warning, an international humiliation won’t be far.

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