for a cause
Landmine amputee makes marathon history
Chris Moon knows the landmines problem from just about every
angle, first as an army officer and subsequently as a deminer
in Cambodia and Mozambique. Then, two years ago in Mozambique,
he stepped on one of the devices in a supposedly safe area.
The landmine is believed to have been so deeply buried in
the ground that it had escaped the metal detectors. The blast
cost him his right leg and right hand. Now, he runs to raise
money for landmine victims.
Once fitted with artificial limbs, Chris took part in the
London, New York, Mozambique and Phnom Penh marathons. The
34-year-old’s most recent achievement was to complete
the 137-mile Great Sahara Run known as the Marathon des Sables
(Marathon of the Sands) across some of the world’s most
inhospitable terrain, an endeavour which took him six days
and is the equivalent of running a marathon a day. He finished
283rd out of a total of 355 competitors in a time of 47 hours,
46 minutes and 30 seconds. The record-breaking run (Chris
is the first amputee ever to take part in the event) raised
£80,000 for an ICRC-supported prosthetics programme
in Viet Nam, donated through the British Red Cross.
Besides fundraising, Chris has done much to raise the profile
of landmine victims around the world. Yet he does not consider
himself a victim: “I chose to be where the mines were,
unlike the Africans,” he says. “I have also been
very lucky in that I have had good medical support since my
accident and a lot of personal encouragement, too. I want
people to think about others who are trying to overcome disability
but who don’t have the same kind of support and assistance.
Many amputees have to wait years or a whole lifetime for an
The living metal
The band: a set of metal sculptures “singing”
about the destructive effects of landmines. In front of them:
eight empty chairs with a clear sign saying “Please
do not sit on the chairs”. This ensemble was part of
25 metal sculptures put on display in support of the global
campaign to ban landmines by a leading Kenyan artist, Kioko
Mwitiki. The site of the exhibition, a piece of farmland 45
km from Nairobi with the hills in the background, provided
a perfect setting.
“The idea of the band and the empty chairs is to represent
the many voices that have been calling for a ban on landmines
with nobody listening,” replies Kioko Mwitiki, when
asked about the significance of the sculptures.
Supported by the ICRC’s regional delegation in Nairobi,
the two-and-a-half-week exhibition dubbed “The living
metal” drew a large audience mainly from the diplomatic
missions, schools and interested individuals. The message
of the exhibition landed the artist an invitation to the Pan
African Movement celebrations in Kampala, Uganda, which took
place at the end of May.
Despite the fact that Kenya is not directly affected by landmines,
the awareness campaign has generated a lot of interest in
the country. Towards the end of 1996, a leading Kenyan band
produced a record “Toys of death” calling for
a total ban on landmines, and Red Cross club members at one
of the universities are producing a play with the same message.
A number of individuals and NGOs have also come together to
form the Kenya Coalition Against Landmines (KCAL) to carry
the campaign forward in the country.
Royal spotlight on landmines
Until Diana, Princess of Wales, visited Angola on a British
Red Cross mission in January, a large proportion of the British
public was unaware of the evils caused by landmines. The extensive
media coverage that always follows the Princess ensured however
that the message got through.
During her five-day tour, Diana visited hospitals, rehabilitation
centres and other sites showing the devastation caused by
landmines in a country emerging from 20 years of civil war.
In her first speech, in Luanda, she spoke of the human tragedies
caused by these weapons and of the campaign for a ban on their
manufacture, transfer, sale and use.
In May, the newly elected British government announced its
intention to support the Ottawa process aimed at achieving
a global ban on AP landmines, slapped a blanket ban on all
British trade in the weapons and vowed to destroy its own
stocks by 2005.
Bridging the gap
In at the deep end
fledgling Red Cross Society in the Pacific nation of Palau
was barely four months old when flung into its first relief
operation. The bridge linking Koror and Babelthaup –
the nation’s two main islands – collapsed, leaving
Koror’s 12,000 inhabitants without a water supply. The
bridge carried pipes from Babelthaup, for Koror has no natural
water source of its own.
Having declared a state of emergency, the republic’s
government turned to the Palau Red Cross and asked it to supply
water to every household. What followed saw the Movement in
The National Society’s plan was to pump water from
a well in Babelthaup and transport it by boat in small containers.
A truck on Koror would then distribute ten litres a day to
every islander. But with 3,000 households to care for, the
Red Cross was short of a few things. For a start, six portable
pumps, 3,000 collapsible jerry cans and 6,000 buckets with
lids on. Straight out of the crib, it had hardly any resources
to draw on.
A Federation appeal brought lightning response from Japan,
and from the United States. The Japanese Red Cross airlifted
the pumps and the jerry cans in. In Hawaii, the American Red
Cross bought another 6,000 containers and the US Air Force
flew them from Honolulu. At the Palau end things went like
Jerry Talbot, former Director of the Federation’s Asia/Pacific
Department, was delighted. “It’s been an excellent
opportunity for the National Society to show what it can do
for its country, and to raise its public profile,” he
A dangerous season
When meningitis strikes...
In sub-Saharan Africa from early November to mid-April every
year, bacterial meningitis reaches epidemic proportions.
The bacteria is transmitted by air, and once it has penetrated
into the blood stream, an individual could die in a matter
of days. Treatment must be given within the first three days
for it to be effective. In an epidemic 80 per cent of the
victims are children from 5 to 15 years of age, according
to a report by the International Federation.
As with many diseases today, the African meningitis epidemic
also travels. Strains of the bacteria have been found in Pakistan,
Saudi Arabia, Nepal and the UK. The meningitis epidemic in
Africa infects more people and takes more lives each year.
Last year was the worst ever recorded, 1997 looks like the
increase will continue.
The National Societies in Togo, Ghana, Burkina Faso, and
Gambia are working with the International Federation to support
the local health authorities in a massive vaccination campaign.
The primary goal of the programme is to turn the tide on this
Korean father is reunited with his
In January, Choe Ki-Son was reunited with his daughters,
Ki My Phuong (24) and Ki My Huong (23), in Seoul, South Korea,
after ten years of separation.
Mr Choe went to South Viet Nam to work for a Korean company
in 1968. He was caught and imprisoned shortly after South
Viet Nam fell in 1975 on a charge of obstructing North Viet
Nam’s revolutionary projects. He was released in April
1987 with the help of the ICRC and the Korean Red Cross and
returned to Korea leaving his Vietnamese daughters behind.
After making enquiries about his daughters’ whereabouts,
he finally managed to locate them in 1993, but circumstances
did not permit their reunion until this year when the National
Council of Small Industries of Korea recommended that the
girls join a study visit programme in Korea as industrial
trainees and arranged the necessary procedures.
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