27 May 2020, Rome, Italy – On behalf of the 26 UN agencies operating in Italy, FAO Director-General QU Dongyu today signed an agreement with the Italian Red Cross on measures aimed at protecting the health of employees and visitors to the agencies’ premises in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The agreement will allow the UN agencies to continue to benefit from the support of Italian Red Cross volunteers who will conduct daily temperature screenings as nation-wide movement restrictions in Italy are being eased.
Speaking during a virtual signature ceremony, Qu, in his condition as the Designated UN Official for Security in Italy, expressed his sympathy and solidarity with the government and people of Italy “in these challenging times”. The agreement was signed by the President of the Italian Red Cross, Francesco Rocca. Italy’s Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs, Emanuela Del Re, and Deputy Minister of International Cooperation, Marina Sereni also participated in the event.
“This is a historic occasion for us to further strengthen the relationship between the UN and the Italian Red Cross. From the very beginning of the COVID-19 emergency, our Italian hosts have provided the 26 UN agencies in Italy with indispensable support,” Qu said, noting that this involved some 13,000 people in Rome, Florence, Venice, Bolzano, Perugia, Turin and Brindisi.
“I am pleased to sign this agreement today, as it is another important step for the friendship between the UN in Italy and the Italian Red Cross Society. I believe that a strong and mutually-beneficial relation between the UN Family and our host country Italy is of great importance,” the FAO Director-General said.
Qu noted that in February FAO put in place an internal structure to manage, monitor and plan the agency’s response to the crisis, while taking into account the World Health Organization guidelines and the regulations established by the Italian authorities.
“We organized temperature checks, arranged for a swift move to teleworking and took many related decisions. And right from the beginning of the health emergency, we asked the Italian Red Cross Society for their assistance, Qu said. “Thanks to their dedicated and passionate work, one case has so far been quickly detected and contained at FAO headquarters, thus preventing an outbreak.”
The FAO Director General noted that as a token of deep appreciation for the support during this crisis, the UN family decided to donate the proceeds of a voluntary staff association fundraiser to the Italian Red Cross.
FAO also decided to light up its Rome headquarters in Italy’s Green, White and Red “as a sign of brotherhood, solidarity and true friendship towards Italy and Rome that have been hosting FAO for nearly 70 years.”
Francesco Rocca, President of the Italian Red Cross said that the blue pillar and red pillar are working hand in hand in their response to the pandemic.
Deputy Minister Marina Sereni mentioned that this is more than an MoU. It is a political symbol that reinforces the collaboration between Italy and the UN at the service of humanity.
Deputy Minister Emanuela Del Re tanked FAO, the UN and the Red Cross for their extraordinary work amidst the pandemic that calls for close collaboration and multilateralism.