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Red Cross Marks 48years in Uganda: Asks government for Tax Relief

The Uganda Red Cross Society (URCS) has asked government to consider waiving taxes on imported relief items by the disaster relief agency.

The URCS chairperson Robert Ssebunya, in a message read by his vice Stephen Mutenyo noted that the intervention would help boost the running of the society’s humanitarian programmes and projects.

He noted that as a disaster-relief agency, URCS provides food, shelter, medical care and life-saving services in emergency situations, all free of charge to those in need.

This was at celebrations to mark 150 years of the existence of the Red Cross/Red Crescent (RC/RC) worldwide. The ceremony held under the theme “Mobilizing the power of the young people to serve humanity” at Main Street Primary School in Jinja on Tuesday, also served as the 48th anniversary of the Red Cross activities in Uganda.

At the same occasion, a drive to raise sh218m for construction of the Busoga regional disaster management center was conducted by the minister of State for Urban Development, Justine Lumumba Kasule, who represented the speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga.

Kadaga in a speech read by Kasule, stated that she was touched by a picture of a Red Cross staff who was captured running while carrying a child during the walk to work protests in Kampala early this year.

Kadaga promised to ensure that the National Disaster Law is finalized by Parliament to enable agencies like Red Cross operate in a conducive environment.

She said office would liaise with the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning to discuss the possibility of tax exemption on relief items imported by Red Cross and humanitarian services to the vulnerable people.

Kadaga promised to encourage Members of Parliament to join Red Cross and also support its interventions adding that she will also work with line Ministries in their campaign to solicit support for Red Cross. Kasule Lumumba handed to URCS vice chairperson Kadaga’s sh 1m donation.

William Male, the manager of the Red Cross Jingo branch said Safe Male Circumcision, blood donation, exhibitions by various NGOs, testing and counseling among others were part of the activities done during the celebrations.

“We managed to circumcise over 300 people and collected over 100 units of blood out of the blood donation exercise,” said Male.

Male said the Busoga regional disaster management centre will help in handling emergence cases during times of disaster.

He said URCS continues to deliver much needed humanitarian services in Uganda mainly in the areas of; Health-Child survival interventions, HIV/AIDS, delivering assistance to people living with HIV/AIDS as well as orphans and other vulnerable children.

Male added URCS contributes to increased access to safe water/hygiene/sanitation, safe blood for transfusion services, reproductive health and First Aid.

Others include disaster management and disaster preparedness, response, community based disaster risk reduction, tracing and restoration of family links, environment management interventions, youth, volunteer and membership interventions.

Mutenyo noted that youth form about 80% of the active volunteer force in the society and are deeply involved in delivering humanitarian services to the population both in emergencies as wells as development work.

By Donald Kiirya
The New Vision Newspaper
11-May-2012

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