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Violence in Aceh

The ICRC continues to support the Palang Merah Indonesia (PMI) - Indonesian Red Cross Society - to assist displaced persons in the province of Aceh. During the last year clashes between the Indonesian military forces and the separatist Free Aceh Movement (GAM) have caused the internal displacement of the population. In a recent relief operation, hygiene kits, sleeping mats, blankets, plastic sheeting and water tanks were distributed to 820 families living in temporary shelter. "This action benefited only a fraction of the total internally displaced population in Aceh today," explains Syméon Antoulas, ICRC deputy head of operations for South-East Asia and the Pacific. "Although it is difficult to quantify the phenomenon of displacement of the Acehrese due to the ongoing turmoil, we are, together with the PMI, permanently assessing the needs in order to meet them effectively." During the coming weeks and months it is expected that further assistance will be provided to both displaced persons and residents. "This is the fifth consecutive year that we are involved in supporting the PMI when such operations are carried out," says Antoulas.

By the book

Following approval by the Ministry of Education in Azerbaijan, the ICRC delegation in Baku published a textbook for students in line with its pedagogical programme. Called My World, Your World, this book is essentially based on texts from Azerbaijani literature. The selected stories are meant to sensitize students to humanitarian values, such as mutual respect, compassion and acts of kindness. It also introduces children to basic principles of the Movement and international humanitarian law. Study sessions took place in schools of Baku and the Quba region. On the completion of the pilot phase and feedback from students and teachers, an updated version will be printed in 2002. "The particularity of this book is that it will help teachers give lessons by using new interactive methods. This book will surely promote reforms within the Azerbaijani educational system," said Rafig Gandilov, senior staff of the Ministry of Education.

Guarding their bodies

Fifteen uniformed bodyguards from the Cambodia National Police are undergoing two days of life-skill training organized by the Red Cross. This course provides information on HIV/AIDS and other STDs. A survey a few years ago showed that the two groups with the highest prevalence of HIV/AIDS in Camobdia were sex workers and the uniformed forces. In Cambodia, educational and preventive information on HIV/AIDS is extremely limited. Initially, this Red Cross initiative aimed to target the general public, but it eventually narrowed its focus to the uniformed forces. The project uses three strategies: education, advocacy and home care. So far, 1,000 of the 2,000 special policemen working as bodyguards for dignitaries and foreign visitors have been trained by the Cambodian Red Cross.


Protecting refugees is our business

Given the current global crises, it can be safely assumed that the number of refugees will sharply rise in the coming months and perhaps years, and the responsibility to protect refugees is now everyone's business. Humanitarian actors have a responsibility to understand what protection is available and how their presence has a protective impact on refugees. To ensure that a refugee's right to protection receives global priority, the Federation and a group of international NGOs launched the Reach Out Refugee Protection Training Project. The aim of the Reach Out project is to enhance refugee protection awareness, knowledge and skills of those persons responsible for the delivery of humanitarian assistance within NGOs, National Societies and the Federation, and to improve operational cooperation between the UNHCR and participants. Seven training seminars were offered between March and September, with more scheduled for the coming months. Your participation is encouraged and for more information on this project please contact Henk Van Goethem or Robbie Thomson at the Federation secretariat.

Marching in Solferino

The spirit of Henry Dunant remains present and meaningful today, 100 years after he received the first Nobel peace prize. The hope for a better future lies in the force of his ideals. He himself, faced with the horrid and crushing spectacle of war, continued to believe in brotherhood and human generosity. Reaffirming Dunant's ideals, several thousand volunteers from various National Societies took part in a torchlight procession on 23 June along the seven-kilometre path where wounded soldiers fled the battlegrounds of Solferino towards Castiglione on 24 June, 1859. This march, in its ninth year, is organized by the International Museum of the Red Cross in Castiglione and the Italian Red Cross (web site:


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