Heger / ICRC
On 19 August, an ICRC-chartered plane completed
a series of trips transferring 19 unaccompanied children from
Kinshasa to Goma and 28 from Goma to the capital. ICRC delegates
then returned the children individually to their respective
families residing in various provinces of the Democratic Republic
of the Congo. Most of these children, between 3 and 18 years
of age, had been living apart from their families as a result
of the succession of clashes occurring in the east of the
country since 1996.
The reunification of families that have been split, which
requires numerous representations and lengthy tracing operations
on the part of the ICRC, is organized on a strictly voluntary
basis. ICRC delegates first register the children and then
locate their families. Next, they restore contact between
the two through the Red Cross message network, which operates
throughout the country and is run with the help of volunteers
from the Red Cross of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
The 6th Pan African Conference of Red Cross
and Red Crescent Societies was held from 8 to 13 September
in Algiers. The African National Societies endorsed an Algiers
Plan of Action, which builds on the commitments they made
four years ago in Ouagadougou to scale up their work in the
fields of HIV/AIDS, health and food security.
The plan of action sets a number of objectives, such as
helping to reduce the spread of HIV/AIDS through education
and fighting stigma; supporting government efforts to increase
access to antiretroviral treatment; providing psychosocial
support to orphans and children made vulnerable by HIV/AIDS;
and ensuring food security and reducing illness and mortality
in vulnerable populations. The document specifically calls
on National Societies to make better use of their network
of volunteers and to establish and strengthen strategic partnerships
with governments, UN agencies, the private sector and other
civil society actors.
The conference, whose final day was attended by Algerian
President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, under whose patronage the
event was being held, agreed that the next Pan African conference
would take place in South Africa.
A warrior without weapons
Dr Marcel Junod was born 100 years ago in
Neuchâtel, Switzerland. He was in his early 30s when
in 1935, he was asked by the ICRC to go to Ethiopia where
the Abyssinian-Italian war was raging. From 1936, he became
head of delegation in Spain, torn by civil war. During the
Second World War, Marcel Junod travelled all over Europe,
from Berlin to occupied Poland, then to France and the Balkans
where he organized a large-scale relief operation in occupied
Greece, which was suffering severe famine.
It was in Japan in 1945 that Dr Junod was to be put to the
hardest test of all. At 08.45 on 6 August 1945, the city of
Hiroshima was obliterated by an atomic bomb. Marcel Junod
got there on 8 September, the first foreign doctor on the
spot. He brought with him 15 tonnes of medical supplies that
he had managed to mobilize through his contacts with the allied
forces. For four days he visited hospitals, finding out what
had happened, seeing things that went well beyond the scope
of human imagination.
After the war, he wrote a book Warrior without Weapons (original
French title, Le
Troisième Combattant ), which has since been translated
into a dozen languages. In
1959, Marcel Junod was elected vice president of the ICRC.
On 16 June 1961 he died of a heart attack while bringing a
patient round from anaesthesia. He died as he had lived, devoted
to medical work and in the service of others.
season to remember
Jeanne, Ivan, Charles and Frances will be
remembered in the Caribbean as the most intense crop of hurricanes
the region has experienced in over a decade. The International
Federation launched appeals totalling US$ 8.2 million for
victims of the 2004 hurricane season. Throughout the region,
the Red Cross responded immediately to the floods, with volunteers
participating in rescue operations, and distributing food,
water and emergency stocks of relief items.
Few countries were spared. In the Haitian city of Gonaïves,
already devastated by violent clashes earlier this year, some
1,600 people died from flooding linked to Tropical Storm Jeanne.
The International Federation and the National Societies of
Canada, France, Spain and Switzerland sent in a total of seven
cargo flights filled with desperately needed relief items,
such as plastic sheeting, blankets, food, hygiene articles,
kitchen sets and cooking stoves.
Given the amount of relief that arrived in Haiti, the International
Federation also set up a logistics emergency response unit,
jointly managed by the French and Spanish Red Cross, to facilitate
the reception, storage and distribution of relief items.
Hurricane Ivan caused widespread devastation in Grenada,
Jamaica, Cuba and the Cayman Islands. In Grenada alone, Hurricane
Ivan wiped out 90 per cent of the country’s infrastructure,
costing some US$ 7 billion, according to the Caribbean Disaster
Emergency Response Agency. That’s a huge sum for an
island with a US$ 500 million-a-year economy. And in Cuba,
Hurricane Ivan was the most intense hurricane to have struck
the island in the last 50 years.
In the United States, authorities estimate that Florida
and other south-eastern states suffered some US$ 12 billion
in damages. Millions of people were without electricity for
over a month.
And the future is worrisome. Scientists say the Atlantic
has settled into a pattern of temperatures and air patterns
that is likely to sustain hyperactive hurricane seasons for
a decade or two.
Forty secondary schools in Poland are introducing
the Exploring Humanitarian Law (EHL) programme in the curricula.
Following approval by the Polish Ministry of Education and
Sport, related to the European Union pledge made during the
International Conference in December 2003, EHL is now included
in courses on civic education and history for 16 to19-year-old
The Polish Red Cross is helping to introduce EHL in schools
and manages this year’s pilot project. The ICRC provides
technical and financial support. The Polish Red Cross hopes
that by the end of 2006, EHL will be part of the curriculum
in 800 secondary schools. Poland has joined Lithuania and
Croatia as pioneers in the field of international humanitarian
law education for young people in eastern Europe. In addition,
the Hungarian, Latvian, Romanian, Slovenian and Slovakian
ministries of education have committed to developing EHL programmes.
In a dynamic and changing world, where new humanitarian challenges
arise constantly, how can the International Federation remain
responsive, flexible and effective both today and in the decades
This is the underlying question posed by the “Federation
of the Future” programme. This two-year consultation
process, agreed to at the last General Assembly, is focusing
on global changes and trends that impact on people’s
needs and vulnerability and affect the work of the Red Cross,
Red Crescent. It subsequently examines ways that the International
Federation can adapt the organization to meet the changing
needs of its membership and the vulnerable people it serves.
To date, a discussion paper has been produced following numerous
consultations with National Societies (available on FedNet).
This paper will help orient discussions towards the end goal,
which is to make a series of recommendations to the 2005 General
Assembly on how to lead the International Federation forward
to the end of the decade and beyond.
Your opinions count! If you have ideas and suggestions on
how the International Federation can maximize its potential
as a global humanitarian organization, please let panel members
know. Comments can be sent by e-mail to Philip.Tamminga@ifrc.org.