After decades of working together informally, Fordham’s International Institute for Humanitarian Affairs (IIHA) and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) have entered into a formal partnership.

In a Feb. 25 ceremony at the World Council of Church’s Ecumenical Institute in Geneva, Switzerland, IIHA executive director Brendan Cahill signed a memorandum of agreement with IFRC Secretary-General Elhadj As Sy that makes permanent the two institutions’ relationship.

The partnership will allow Fordham and the IFRC to work together on distance learning, joint training programs, symposia, research, and publications.

Cahill said the new relationship, which follows a similar one the IIHA established last month with the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS), is ideal because both groups share a fundamental philosophy when it comes to helping people suffering from wars, famine, and natural disasters.

IIHA expects to see an increase in the number of students from the IFRC and the JRS; in turn, Fordham alumni from programs such as the International Diploma in Humanitarian Assistance will find employment with IFRC and JRS. With 190 chapters around the world, the IFRC is easily the largest single force in aid today, said Cahill.

“At the end of the day, you want humanitarian assistance really to be effective and done with dignity,” Cahill said, noting that both groups also have strong local presences in the countries they serve.

“The trend of where humanitarian aid is going is toward empowering local response. It shouldn’t be the international response to a local problem . . . but a local response to a local problem, with capacity-building from the outside, he said.


Patrick Verel is a news producer for Fordham Now. He can be reached at [email protected] or (212) 636-7790.