In December 2002, the ICRC President Jakob Kellenberger
visited China, where he met, among others, President Jiang
Zemin, who is also honorary president of the Chinese Red Cross.
Discussions focused mainly on the forthcoming opening of an
ICRC delegation in Beijing, whose aim it will be to promote
humanitarian law, develop cooperation activities with the
Chinese Red Cross and strengthen diplomatic contacts. As a
first step, and at the National Society's request, the ICRC
will establish a limb-fitting centre in Yunnan province. "We
hope to produce 1,000 prostheses a year with a staff of three
expatriates and 12 nationals for three years, then hand over
the centre to the Chinese Red Cross," says Jean-Marc
Bornet, regional delegate for south-east Asia. Over time,
some 10,000 amputees mostly civilian victims of the Sino-Vietnamese
War in 1979 should benefit from this rehabilitation service.
Civil war in Côte d'Ivoire
Nearly six months after the eruption of violence,
Côte d'Ivoire remains in the throes of civil war. Rebel
troops are in control of the whole of the northern half of
the country, with an insurgent presence in Bouaké (Mouvement
patriotique de Côte d'Ivoire) and in Man (Mouvement
populaire ivoirien du Grand Ouest, Justice et Paix).
Since the clashes broke out, thousands of people have fled
south to escape the fighting. In addition, according to UNHCR
estimates, more than 53,000 people sought refuge in Liberia
and some 3,000 in Guinea when the conflict spread to the west
of the country in mid-November, while others fled to Mali
and to Burkina Faso.
The ICRC, together with the Red Cross of Côte d'Ivoire,
responded immediately to the needs of the civilian population
affected by the conflict, distributing food and other assistance
in the various temporary reception sites. Medical assistance
was also provided to several health facilities around the
country. In Bouaké, the National Society set up a system
of mobile clinics to dispense medical care to the residents
of the different districts.
The ICRC is active mainly in the conflict zones and has teams
in Yamoussoukra, Bouaké, Korhogo and Man. Moreover,
delegates visit people held in connection with the conflict
in places of detention under the control of the government
and of the rebels.
Cross on TV
The ICRC in collaboration with the Russian Red Cross
(RRC) have just produced four TV clips to be broadcast on
national TV channels, as well as in the regions of the Russian
Federation with support of the RRC branches. The project is
aimed at positioning the Red Cross as a major humanitarian
actor working around the world and in Russia. It should also
help to promote public awareness of the Red Cross action in
conflict zones and areas affected by natural disasters.
The contents of the clips are mostly generic. They reflect
the Red Cross work on assisting tuberculosis patients, conducting
aid distribution, performing war surgery, helping victims
of natural catastrophes and protecting prisoners of war. One
of the TV spots is totally devoted to Article 3 of the Geneva
Conventions. Lasting 15 seconds each, the clips are in black
and white format with red cross/red crescent symbols in colour
which emphasizes the difficulties of Red Cross work. All TV
spots end up with the Red Cross sign and short impressive
message "Red Cross: Protection, Aid, Hope". National
Societies interested in obtaining a copy can contact the ICRC
delegation in Moscow.
Cyclone Zoe, with wind speeds reaching up to 300 kilometres
per hour, was one of the most devastating ever to hit the
Pacific region. The islands most affected are Tikopia and
Anuta in the Solomon Islands, with an estimated total population
of 2,000. Aerial survey showed widespread destruction of homes
and crops. The Solomon Islands Red Cross, and the Federation
working through its regional delegation in Fiji, have been
at the forefront of relief efforts.
"It is a miracle that no one died. But with some coastal
villages being swept away and immense damage suffered to crops
and land, it will take some time for the island and its residents
to recover from this," says Jeong Park, from the Federation's
regional office in the Fijian capital, Suva.
Relief supplies including food, temporary shelter and blankets
were distributed to residents on both islands. In addition,
the ICRC provided kitchen utensils, seeds and fishing equipment
with the Japanese, Australian and New Zealand Red Cross Societies
also offering assistance.
A medical team and a Red Cross volunteer also travelled to
the islands to help assess the situation.
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