/ Daniel Aguilar,
Faced with poverty levels among the highest
in the world and a looming political crisis that has engulfed
the country for the past three months, Haiti is in a state
of near-anarchy. The Haitian Red Cross and the ICRC are working
together to meet humanitarian needs arising from the crisis.
The wounded people in dire need of medical care were rushed
to hospitals in the capital, Port-au-Prince, and other cities.
These are poorly staffed and ill-equipped to cope with such
an emergency. The ICRC is particularly concerned by repeated
incidents of armed individuals breaking into hospitals, endangering
the lives of both staff and patients. The Haitian Red Cross,
with ICRC support, is continuing to evacuate the wounded,
despite increasingly restricted access to them. Since December
2003 the ICRC and the National Society have provided medical
facilities with first-aid material in sufficient quantities
to treat 1,000 wounded and surgical kits to treat 1,400 war
wounded. A cargo with 32 tonnes of surgical equipment has
been supplied to a main hospital in Pétionville, near
Port-au-Prince. Material is also being distributed to hospitals
in the capital, as well as the main hospital in Gonaives.
Wherever possible, the ICRC is also continuing to visit detainees.
In January 2004 the "mine awareness"
café was opened in Grozny in which nine mine-affected
people are working.
The limb-fitting centre in Grozny reopened on 24 April 2003
with help from the ICRC, which supplied the equipment needed
to produce artificial limbs and arranged for the ten newly
hired staff members to attend a two-year training course in
Sochi, on the Black Sea. Once their training is completed
and the centre is working to full capacity, they will be able
to provide more than 300 patients a year with artificial limbs
and perform an even greater amount of repair work.
The Kazakh Red Crescent Society and the
Red Cross Societies from the Cook Islands and Micronesia have
been formally admitted to the International Federation, bringing
to 181 the number of full members. The decision to admit the
three new National Societies was adopted unanimously at the
International Federation's General Assembly in Geneva in December
"I congratulate these National Societies. Their work
will benefit from being part of the International Federation,
and from the support and expertise that membership brings,"
said International Federation president, Juan Manuel Suárez
del Toro. "It is great news that our network is becoming
more and more universal."
Sohlberg / ICRC
More than 90 countries, including major
military powers, have agreed to a ground-breaking treaty to
cut the huge number of civilians who are the casualties of
munitions left over from armed conflicts. The ICRC welcomes
the adoption this new treaty on explosive remnants of war
(ERW) — the first international agreement to require
that parties to an armed conflict clear all unexploded munitions
that threaten civilians, peacekeepers and humanitarian workers
once the fighting is over.
The agreement, adopted by the 91 states party to the Convention
on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW), including all major
military powers, will be the fifth protocol additional to
this convention. It primarily requires the parties to an armed
conflict to clear ERW in areas under their control after a
conflict and to provide technical, material and financial
assistance in areas not under their control with a view to
facilitating the removal of unexploded or abandoned ordnance
left over from their operations.
The treaty, which will enter into force after 20 states have
ratified it, will apply to conflicts that break out thereafter.
The new agreement on explosive remnants of war is the latest
development in efforts to eliminate the scourge of unexploded
and abandoned ordnance. The rules adopted by the states party
to the CCW supplement the ongoing work to end the suffering
caused by anti-personnel mines.
Gassmann / ICRC
On 17 December 2003, the ICRC paid tribute
to its 12 staff members killed in the line of duty since 2000.
On this occasion, the families of the deceased were greeted
by numerous ICRC staff members and the president, who presented
them with medals in honour of their loved ones. The 12 dead
were: Aduwe Boboli, Julio Delgado, Rita Fox-Stucki, Jean Molokabonge,
Véronique Saro and Unen Ufoirworth, all killed in the
Democratic Republic of the Congo on 26 April 2000; Ole Friis
Eriksen, killed in southern Sudan on 9 May 2001; Ricardo Munguia,
killed on 27 March 2003 in Afghanistan; Vatche Arslanian,
killed on 8 April 2003 in Baghdad; Nadisha Yasassri Ranmuthu
killed in Iraq on 22 July 2003; and Zoheir Abdallah Ahmad
Hamdi and Dekran Gregor Dekran Agopian, killed in Baghdad
on 27 October 2003.
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