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Artists' impressions of the Red Cross

In 2000, the Mannheim chapter of the German Red Cross organized an art competition to mark its 125th anniversary. The resulting exhibition of the best entries is on display at the ICRC in Geneva from 21 January to 28 February 2002. Entitled "The German Red Cross through artists' eyes" (Künstler sehen das Deutsche Rote Kreuz), the collection of paintings and sculptures by 36 artists presents their vision of the Red Cross. The selected works provide us with an outsider's view of the Red Cross both as a symbol and as an institution, and give cause for critical reflection on the Movement's mandate in general and the history of the German Red Cross in particular.

Although the products of very different styles and techniques, the paintings all give tangible form to the concepts of "humanity" and "aid", which are at the heart of the Movement's action.
On the same occasion, the Mannheim chapter of the German Red Cross also put together an exhibition of photographs by Sabine Kress depicting portraits of "couples" made up of men and women giving or receiving assistance. The images can shortly be viewed on the Federation web site at

Delegations or National Societies wishing to host these exhibitions can contact Fritz Gärtner, German Red Cross (Mannheim chapter), tel. 00 49 621 73 94, for further information.

The knowledge that gives you wings

The recent war with Eritrea and years of drought and famine have had severe economic and social repercussions for Ethiopia, an already poor country with an exploding population. The northern Tigray region has suffered badly from the effects of the conflict with Eritrea: of the 380 street children, more than 10 per cent are orphans, 27 per cent are from broken homes, 5 per cent have missing parents and 58 per cent are still in contact with their families, but eke out a living on the streets.

"My grandmother forced me to beg. Since I was taken in hand by the Red Cross, she has tried several times to kidnap me on my way to school. But I can run faster than her! The desire to learn gives you wings!" Eight-year-old Moulou has already spent more than half his life on the streets of Adigrat, a pilot town for the "Street children" project initiated by Hagos Gemechu, secretary of the Tigray branch of the Ethiopian Red Cross and financed by the ICRC. In the middle of the night, the helping hand of a local Red Cross volunteer plucked Moulou from an old cardboard box and registered him on a list of little castaways who could benefit from the Ethiopian Red Cross project. Thus, since October 2001, 38 children and adolescents aged between 7 and 19 are housed, fed, attend school and are trained so that they can eventually find a job.

In the path of Destruction

On 17 January the volcano Mount Nyiragongo, in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, erupted smashing its way through the town of Goma at speeds of up to 60 kilometres an hour.

It is estimated that 300,000 people fled Goma and sought refuge in Gisenyi and surrounding areas, on the Rwandan side of the border, just a short distance away.

"First I thought it was thunder when the volcano started to spit the boiling lava," explained Odette Nyiraminani, a resident of the the Corniche district west of Goma, as she held her small baby tightly in her arms. "The town was covered with smoke and we could hardly breathe. We were allowed to cross the border and spent two days in a field near Gysenyi, until the Red Cross found us."

Active since the very beginning of the disaster, 1,000 Rwanda Red Cross volunteers provided assistance and first aid to people terrified by the events. "Goma doesn't exist anymore," say volunteers, having witnessed the partial destruction of the town. The Rwandan Red Cross, the Federation and the ICRC, with the support of the German, French, Belgian and Spanish Red Cross Societies, continue to work together to provide assistance to the victims.

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