the world with red cross pins
World Red Cross and Red Crescent Day 1999 will
see a flood of small cardboard pins on the streets of cities
around the world as Red Cross volunteers ask for donations
from the public in return for a small red cross lapel badge.
The aim is to raise the profile of the Movement globally,
raise money for individual societies, and mobilize the volunteers
and supporters of the Red Cross Red Crescent.
This campaign follows four pilot projects organized in 1998
by the Communications Forum of the Movement, a small group
of Movement-wide communicators set up by the Council of Delegates
in 1995. The pilot projects, held in the Czech Republic, Hungary,
Sri Lanka and Uganda, aimed to test whether the very successful
pins campaign conducted every year by the British Red Cross
could be extended to other societies. The result was a very
resounding “yes”. The National Societies concerned
demonstrated that they could raise profile, money and mobilize
their supporters with the pins. As a result the Communications
Forum decided to try and globalize the event over the coming
In May 1999, eight million pins will be used by over 60 National
Societies. They cost about 4 US cents each, so even poorly-funded
societies can raise money by asking for donations on the street,
in offices and in shops. Even if the average donation were
only 10 US cents, the society would more than double its investment.
With celebrity support and volunteer mobilization, the impact
can continue beyond the 8 May itself.
The other important gain is that it is a very visible event
which all societies can join and which, if globalized, would
put World Red Cross and Red Crescent Day in the spotlight
as never before. Over 700,000 pins were donated by wealthier
societies to enable less well-off ones to participate. Unfortunately
no crescents were donated or purchased in 1999. But these
are early days and societies are only just beginning to realize
the potential of the campaign. So why not 20 million pins
in 2000? And 50 million in 2001? The challenge is there; the
benefits for the Movement enormous.
First World War legacy
One of the most horrifying practices used
in the conflict in Sierra Leone is the amputation of limbs
and hands of civilians. During the last year, hundreds of
people have been mutilated. Those people who have lost their
hands go through enormous suffering, entirely dependent on
family members to assist them with the daily tasks of eating,
drinking, washing or getting dressed.
Until earlier this year when it was forced to leave, the
ICRC was running an independent surgical clinic in Freetown
to provide medical treatment for people who have been victims
of mutilation. The hospital specialized in complicated surgical
cases, teaching local doctors and special reconstructive surgery.
To help people who have lost both hands, an old surgical procedure,
the so-called Krukenberg intervention created during the First
World War, has been revived at the hospital. Through this
surgery, pincers are formed with the two forearm bones and
the muscles. A prosthesis is inserted which allows the patients
to grip again. Followed by intensive rehabilitation and physiotherapy,
the patients can regain a high level of independence and basic
For a good cause
As part of its effort to promote awareness
of humanitarian principles and commemorate the 75th anniversary
of the National Society, the youth section of the Japanese
Red Cross has launched an original campaign in favour of mine
victims in Cambodia.
The ‘used telephone-card collection drive’ was
started in January 1997 in cooperation with NTT (Japan Telephone
& Telecommunication Co. Ltd). Anyone who returns a used
card to NTT is then given cash which is to be donated to the
campaign for Cambodian mine victims. The campaign slogan is
“You can support one artificial leg with 1,000 used-telephone
cards”. By February 1998, approximately 3 million cards
were collected and eventually exchanged for 10,400,000 yen,
equivalent to US$75,000. The youth section of the Japanese
Red Cross has every reason to be proud as it meets its double
target to assist mines victims and raise public awareness
about the Movement and its seven principles.
Helping the host
The water system in Uvinza, a bush town
about 100 kilometres east of Lake Tanganyika, wasn't working.
The electric motor which drove it had been stolen and now
the town had a power crisis. Electricity had always been supplied
by the local salt factory, but the factory could no longer
The Uvinza branch of the Tanzania Red Cross sent an SOS to
the nearby Lugufu refugee camp, a sanctuary for Congolese
run by the National Society with International Federation
support. While caring for the refugees, the operation has
sought to extend health and water services to local communities.
A solution was soon found. A diesel engine once used to grind
maize in Lugufu was adapted to turn the town's pump, and once
the system was up and running again it was overhauled as well.
Leaks were sealed, broken valves and taps replaced, and a
supply restored to 32 public water points.
Reported Federation water/sanitation delegate, Gary Hopf,
“The work has benefited 15,000 to 20,000 people. It
has cost 4,290 Swiss francs, or less than 0.29 francs per
beneficiary. That is money very well spent.”
Red Flag and Red Cross
On the eve of the 42nd anniversary of the
Hungarian uprising in October 1956, the ICRC regional delegation
for central and south-east Europe, in cooperation with the
Hungarian Red Cross, presented the Hungarian translation of
the book of Isabelle Vonèche Cardia: Hungarian October:
Between the Red Flag and the Red Cross. The event took place
on 16 October, in the ‘Writers’ Bookstore’
in the centre of Budapest. The book was introduced by François
Bellon, head of the regional delegation, in the presence of
representatives of the International Federation, the Hungarian
Red Cross and other humanitarian organizations as well as
members of the diplomatic corps. By publishing the book in
Hungarian, the ICRC underlined the significance of the operation
performed in 1956 and 1957 for the Hungarian population affected
by the events. For the ICRC, this mission was the most significant
one behind the ‘iron curtain’ during the Cold
slow and silent famine continues
“The situation is critical. A generation
of North Korean children is scarred for life, malnourishment
is common and we need to continue to mobilize resources to
prevent an even greater catastrophe,” said Dr Astrid
Heiberg, president of the International Federation, following
a visit to the country late last year.
Surveys done by UN agencies indicated that the final harvest
for 1998, while better than the previous year, was still insufficient.
It was estimated that there is enough food for eight months.
The situation of young children, according to one survey,
was of particular concern with malnutrition found to be widespread
among this group.
In 1998, the Federation supplied 853 hospitals and clinics
with essential drugs. This year, it plans to supply 1,609
institutions with medical supplies reaching more than five
million people – one quarter of the population of the
Democractic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK). The programmes
are carried out in cooperation with the DPRK Red Cross.
“It is time for a wake-up call to the international
community,” said Margareta Wahlström, Federation
under-secretary general for disaster relief, who accompanied
Dr Heiberg. “We must continue to provide immediate and
meaningful relief to a population that is wasting away because
of hunger and disease.”
What can be done to help people understand
the serious physical and psychological consequences of genital
mutilation on women and young girls? How do you make people
aware that this practice, so much a part of African custom
south of the Sahara, can be a serious health risk for women?
These questions, as yet unanswered, served as the trigger
for the organization of a workshop on female genital mutilation,
organized by the Federation’s regional delegation in
Abidjan, with the participation of nine National Societies
– Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana,
Guinea, Liberia, Mali, Niger and Senegal.
Female genital mutilation is a delicate problem because of
ancestral and religious beliefs. The reasons are sociological
and cultural, and sometimes economic. In some societies, the
practice of excision is an expression of a cultural, social
or sexual identity. A girl who has not been excised is marginalized
from the rest of the community. She is isolated because in
the eyes of society, she is not yet a woman. The practice
of excision is a means of controlling a young girl’s
Kiéssé Emilienne, coordinator of the regional
gender programme, explains that the primary objective of this
meeting was to associate the National Societies with the efforts
to combat this practice in their respective countries and
to set up a plan of action in cooperation with the NGOs and
other bodies already active in the field.
In the English-language version of the 4/98 edition of
Red Cross, Red Crescent magazine, an error was made in
the title of the box on page 6. It should read “The
Red Cross in the former Yugoslavia” rather than “The
Red Cross in Yugoslavia”. The editors apologize for
any confusion as a result of this omission.
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