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The book of the missing

More than 3,360 people have been reported missing in Kosovo, mainly of Albanian but also of Serb origin. This figure confirms that certain numbers quoted at the time of NATO's intervention against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia were overestimated. It nonetheless testifies to the tragic losses suffered by thousands of families in the province. The names of all the missing people have been published by the ICRC in a 200-page book.

According to the ICRC, the number of missing people breaks down into over 2,700 ethnic Albanians, almost 400 Serbs and nearly 200 people from other communities (such as Roma and Montenegrins).

"This publication represents much more than just another simple list. It is a chapter in the sad history of Kosovo," said Alain Kolly, head of the ICRC mission in Kosovo.

The ICRC has appealed to the authorities in Belgrade and Pristina to provide as much information as possible concerning these missing persons. The lists contained in the book are available for consultation online (http://www.familylinks.icrc.org).

The book has also been distributed to National Societies in contact with large communities of Kosovars, mainly in western Europe.

A first in the Middle East

For the first time in the Middle East, high-ranking officers from the region have met to exchange experiences on disseminating the law of armed conflict. Meeting in the Jordanian capital, Amman, in April, the participants hailed from Algeria, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Mauritania, Oman, the Palestinian National Authority, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia and the United Arab Emirates. Initiated by the ICRC and held under the auspices of the Jordanian armed forces, the two days of talks were aimed at advancing the integration of the rules of humanitarian law into the armed forces, at both the strategic and tactical levels.

Contest in Dakar

Civil war has erupted in Paraboulem, a small republic in eastern Bellitia! The country is riddled with landmines, humanitarian workers are under threat and civilians are the primary victims of this full-scale humanitarian crisis. If you were an ICRC delegate and you had to meet the rebels, how would you go about it? This hypothetical mission was the basis for one of the tests in Africa's first humanitarian law competition. Organized by the ICRC's regional delegation in Senegal, the contest was held in Dakar from 25-28 April with the participation of UNHCR, UNICEF and local human rights organizations. The tests provided future lawyers, diplomats, journalists and military officials with the opportunity to put into practice their theoretical knowledge through direct exposure to the dilemmas facing humanitarian action. The jury was composed of humanitarian law professors and practitioners who joined in by playing the parts of various protagonists. The team from the Dakar law faculty carried the day in the finals.

A rapid response

When an earthquake measuring 7.9 on the Richter scale hit the western coast of Sumatra on 4 June, 90 per cent of the houses on Enggano island were destroyed. Within hours, an International Federation assessment team was dispatched from Geneva to the quake zone. The three delegates were joined in Jakarta by the Federation's regional health delegate and water/sanitation officer, and personnel from the Japanese and Singapore Red Cross Societies. Working in close collaboration with the Indonesian Red Cross Society (Palang Merah Indonesia - PMI), the team was on Enggano island, only 15 km from the quake's epicentre, within 24 hours.

One of the greatest concerns was to see if the water supply had been contaminated. Family wells, although cracked, were still serviceable. However, families had lost their water containers and cooking pots when their houses collapsed, and were unable to store and boil water to make it safe for drinking.

The 400 stricken families on Enggano were soon provided with household kits including water containers, jerrycans and cooking pots. They were purchased in Jakarta by PMI, who coordinated the relief effort with the Federation.

Back on the mainland, another 15,000 kits were distributed to destitute people living on the streets in devastated Bengkulu province, too fearful to return to their damaged houses until the earth stopped shaking.

After three years as Federation editor, Jean Milligan has left Red Cross, Red Crescent magazine. She inspired us all with her dedication, professionalism and exceptional editing skills, and we wish her well.


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