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Anti-stigma campaign continues

On World Red Cross Red Crescent Day 2003 the second phase of "The truth about AIDS" anti-stigma campaign was launched. The campaign, which fights HIV/AIDS-related stigma and discrimination, has now developed a series of designs to counter myths and misconceptions about HIV/AIDS transmission.

"You cannot get AIDS by… being a friend", "You cannot get AIDS by…holding hands" and "You cannot get AIDS by… talking to someone" are a few of the messages that can be found on these designs which are available in poster or stamp format.

To mark the launch of the new stamp campaign, National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies across the world organized events to raise awareness about the campaign.

Red Cross youth in Europe
focus on HIV/AIDS and discrimination

Youth representatives from 44 National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies gathered at the Italian Red Cross Training Centre in Jesolo Lido, 40 km from Venice for the biennial European Cooperation Meeting (ECM), a pan-European event that has been going strong since 1992.

The main themes of the meeting reflect the topics discussed at the sixth European Red Cross and Red Crescent Conference, which took place in Berlin in 2002: health and care in the community, and migration. Within these broad areas, the meeting focused on HIV/AIDS and tolerance — issues of particular interest and relevance to young people in Europe. Other invited organizations, such as Young Positive, Villa Maraini, Reach Out and European Youth Forum, also participated in workshops.

Participants, who include youth representatives from other parts of the world, also had the chance on Saturday 28 June to take part in the annual torchlight Fiaccolata procession, which commemorates the historical route taken in June 1859 by wounded soldiers from the battle of Solferino to Castiglione.

It was at the battle of Solferino that the young Henry Dunant organized volunteers to assist the wounded and dying and sowed the seeds for the creation of the Red Cross.

"This was quite an inspiring experience for the young people who are shaping the present and the future of National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies," said the International Federation's youth officer, Roberta Zuchegna.

The youth representatives elected a new European Coordination Committee that will ensure the continuity of the work until the next ECM in 2005. The members of the new committee are Katarina Bivald (Sweden), Ieva Brinkmane (Latvia), Andriy Budnyk (Ukraine), Frederike de Graaf (Netherlands), Claire Schocher (Austria), Marcel Stefanik (Slovakia) and Signe Winding (Denmark). These members have the mandate to follow up the outcomes of the meeting and organize ECM 2005. More information on the committee can be found at

A new member to the Geneva Conventions

On 8 May 2003, less than a year after independence, Timor-Leste has deposited with the Swiss government the instrument of accession to the four Geneva Conventions of 1949. This makes Timor-Leste the 191st state party to these treaties, which form the core of international humanitarian law. Meanwhile, the ICRC and the International Federation continue to support the setting up of a Red Cross Society in Timor-Leste.

An uneasy calm in Liberia

The situation in Liberia remains unstable, despite the 19 August agreement on the country's political future. Thousands of civilians fled as fresh fighting broke out near Liberia's second city of Buchanan on 23 August and several thousand people arrived in haste at the camps for the displaced north of Monrovia after fleeing fighting in the town of Gbatala, about 100 kilometres north of the capital.

Relief supplies — food and non-food items — were flown in by the ICRC, the British Red Cross and the Norwegian Red Cross. The ICRC, which works closely with the Liberian Red Cross, has more than 300 staff in Liberian and is expanding its operations outside Monrovia, reaching areas that had been off limits for a long time.

Press Award in Monte Carlo

As part of the 43rd Monte Carlo Television Festival (Monaco, 30 June-5 July), the ICRC has created a new press award. The prize is awarded to the documentary or report that best promotes the principles of international humanitarian law through coverage of a current armed conflict from the perspective of the victims. Indeed, the manner in which the effects of armed conflict are often portrayed in the media is increasingly characterized by the speed of information and a surfeit of images that tend to trivialize the suffering of the victims.

Thirty-five productions from some 15 countries were nominated for the award. The prize was won by Kenya: White Terror, a film from BBC2 directed by Gisèle Portenier and John McGhie. Jean Bonvin, ICRC vice-president, and His Royal Highness Prince Albert of Monaco, president of the Monaco Red Cross, presented the first prize to the winning team, which will be invited by the ICRC to film its operations to protect and assist the victims of one of the numerous forgotten conflicts around the world.

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