Timor-Leste Red Cross (CVTL): Celebrating 24 Years of Humanitarian Services

Cruz Vermelha de Timor-Leste (CVTL – Timor-Leste Red Cross CVTL) celebrates 24 years of dedicated service, marking a significant milestone in its mission to provide humanitarian assistance and improve the quality of life for vulnerable communities across the nation.

CVTL stands as a testament to the enduring spirit of humanitarian aid. Its roots trace back to the aftermath of the Battle of Solferino on June 24, 1859, where the devastation witnessed by Jean Henry Dunant led to the founding of the International Red Cross. This historic battle, fought in northern Italy between Italian and French forces against Austria, deeply moved Dunant. Originally in Solferino for business, Dunant’s encounter with the brutal aftermath prompted him to mobilize the community to provide first aid to the wounded.

Dunant’s experience inspired him to write “A Memory of Solferino,” outlining two critical objectives: forming a voluntary organization to assist war victims during peacetime and establishing an international humanitarian law to protect war victims. These ideas led to the creation of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the formation of the Geneva Convention, aimed at improving conditions for armed forces, prisoners, and civilians during conflicts.

The Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement consists of three main components:

  1. International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) was established in 1863): A neutral, impartial, and independent organization providing assistance and protection to war victims and promoting international humanitarian law.
  2. International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) was established in 1919): Coordinates with national societies to provide humanitarian aid during disasters.
  3. National Societies: Humanitarian organizations in Geneva Convention member countries, with each country having one national society authorized to use the emblem, of which there are 191 across the world

Timor-Leste’s journey with the Red Cross began as a branch of the Portuguese Red Cross during the Portuguese occupation and later as a branch of the Indonesian Red Cross (PMI) during the Indonesian invasion. Following the 1999 Independence Referendum, 16 Timorese individuals (One woman and 15 Men)including, many of who were from the former Red Cross employees and volunteers, initially established a national society for Timor. On June 22, 2000, CVTL was officially formed.

CVTL’s path to becoming a recognized National Society involved significant milestones:

Geneva Convention Membership: Timor-Leste ratified the Geneva Convention on May 8, 2003, under the leadership of Dr. Jose Manuel Ramos Horta.

Legal Recognition: CVTL received legal recognition from the Timor-Leste state on September 14, 2005, with Decree-Law No. 6/2005.

International Recognition: the ICRC officially recognized CVTL on November 10, 2005, and by the IFRC on November 11, 2005, becoming the 183rd member of the Movement.

Emblem Protection: On October 21, 2009, CVTL received legal recognition concerning the use and protection of its emblem under Decree-Law No. 12/2009.

CVTL’s Vision and Impact

CVTL’s vision is to save lives and improve the quality of life for the vulnerable people, mobilizing youth, volunteers, and communities to promote humanitarian activities. Over its 24 years, CVTL has significantly impacted vulnerable communities in Timor-Leste through:

– Water supply initiatives

– Economic improvement programs

– Health promotion

– Emergency response

– First aid training

– Blood donation drives

– Environmental education

– Youth participation through cultural and international exchanges

Despite its achievements, CVTL faces challenges in fully satisfying community needs due to its dependency on donors and partners. Strengthening its financial foundation through direct state funding could enhance CVTL’s capacity to provide humanitarian support, aligning it with the operational capabilities of national societies in other countries.

CVTL remains a vital humanitarian organization, dedicated to saving lives and improving the quality of life in Timor-Leste. With continued support and recognition, CVTL can further its mission, ensuring a resilient and compassionate response to the needs of vulnerable communities.

CVTL continues its mission and vision, the organization remains committed to its core principles of humanity, impartiality, neutrality, independence, voluntary service, unity, and universality. CVTL looks forward to further collaboration with local and international partners to bolster its efforts in building a resilient and compassionate community.

For more information or to support CVTL’s initiatives, please visit CVTL’s platforms (website, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube).


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