Quakes Rattle Indonesia
Just 90 minutes after an earthquake struck the province
of Aceh in September, 70 Indonesian Red Cross Society volunteers
went to work, driving ambulances, setting up a temporary field
hospital and gathering information. The earthquake was one
of a series of strong tremors that struck at the beginning
of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, killing at least 23
people along the western coast of Sumatra and triggering a
three-metre tsunami, according to media reports. In the weeks
following the quakes, volunteers distributed hygiene kits,
hurricane lanterns and medicines. They also began assessing
the need for psychosocial support and a water and sanitation
of a unifying figure
Professor Jovan Patrnogic died in Geneva on 6 May 2007 aged
85. His memory will remain inextricably linked with international
humanitarian law (IHL).
After serving as a colonel in the Yugoslav federal army,
Jovan Patrnogic became a professor at the faculty of law in
Belgrade and secretary general of the Yugoslav Red Cross.
He then joined the International Federation in Geneva, where
he was in charge of statutory matters and issues concerning
the recognition of new National Societies. He also served
as head of the protection division of the UN High Commissioner
for Refugees (UNHCR) before devoting himself full time to
his first love: IHL.
Jovan Patrnogic was cofounder of the Institute of International
Humanitarian Law in San Remo, Italy, in 1973. He proposed
original forms of dialogue to codify IHL and, most importantly,
launched training courses in IHL for military personnel from
every corner of the globe. He was also instrumental in bringing
together representatives of East and West on behalf of UNHCR
and the ICRC to discuss implementation of IHL and refugee
law before the fall of the Berlin Wall. Later, he would apply
those same unifying skills to organizing meetings on humanitarian
issues on neutral territory between the parties to the conflict
that were tearing his native Yugoslavia apart.
All those who knew him will remember the determination and
commitment of a man who gave his all to gather together in
San Remo diplomats, military personnel and experts in every
field to promote IHL and to increase understanding of its
interrelationship with refugee and human rights law.
©SAN REMO INSTITUTE
The International Federation is revitalizing its global
agreement with the Reuters news agency. The move will allow
the world’s largest humanitarian organization to exchange
photographs with the world’s most respected news agency.
Under the agreement, photos taken by Red Cross Red Crescent
photographers in the field will be offered to thousands of
publications and web sites worldwide. A recent example, during
floods in China, was the widely publicized photo (right) taken
by the International Federation’s East Asia disaster
management coordinator, Qinghui Gu, of a woman receiving rice
and a blanket. In return, the International Federation will
have access to the Reuters Pictures Archive, allowing it free
use of images in the Reuters database. In addition, the International
Federation will inform Reuters offices about field assessments
and other photo opportunities, and Reuters photographers will
be able to accompany missions on field visits. The agreement
also covers joint training and the donation of used camera
equipment to National Societies.
International Federation information delegates and National
Societies will work together to pitch ideas to Reuters. For
more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org
This object carved from a bar of soap by
a Myanmarese detainee in 1999 featured on the back cover of
Red Cross Red Crescent issue 1-2007. The sculpture of a prisoner
in his cell was given to an ICRC delegate by its creator during
a prison visit in Myanmar.
Since the image was published, we have received news of the
sculptor, Htein Lin. He was released in November 2004 after
six and a half years in prison, during which he created numerous
works of art using any scraps he could lay his hands on. His
love of art has blossomed since his release and has gained
him wide recognition. In June 2005, an exhibition of Htein
Lin’s work produced in prison and entitled “00235”,
his ICRC detainee registration number, was held in Yangon.
The works have since been on display in Japan, Malaysia, Thailand,
the Philippines, Italy, Poland and, most recently, at Asia
House in London.
For more information, visit www.hteinlin.com
©INTERNATIONAL RED CROSS AND RED CRESCENT
scenario in Central Asia
Imagine a major earthquake in a city of
500,000 people in Kazakhstan. How would the five Red Crescent
Societies in Central Asia respond to reports of many deaths
and injuries, displaced people, lack of communications and
transport, and freezing temperatures? This scenario was posed
in Almaty, the capital of Kazakhstan, as an exercise to develop
and refine a Central Asia Regional Contingency Plan for responding
to big quakes, landslides, floods, droughts and dust-storms.
“We all know that the first few hours are crucial,”
says Zhanna Andagulova of the International Federation’s
Almaty office. “That is not the time to begin searching
for crucial contacts or figuring out where relief supplies
are located. We must be ready to act at a moment’s notice
– especially in a rapid-onset disaster like an earthquake.”
Violence in Myanmar
In August and September, after an increase in the price
of fuel, there was wide-spread unrest, culminating in major
street demonstrations, mainly in Yangon and various other
cities. The protests ended with the intervention of the security
forces resulting in the official death of 13 people and the
arrest of several thousand. “The ICRC is deeply worried
about the fate of thousands of people who have reportedly
been arrested in connection with recent events”, said
Pierre Krähenbühl, director of operations. The ICRC
has asked the government of Myanmar for access to all persons
in detention and, in particular, those arrested in relation
to the events of August and September.
In June, the ICRC denounced violations of international humanitarian
law committed against civilians and detainees by the government
of Myanmar and demanded that the government take urgent action
to end these violations and prevent them from recurring.
Court in Delhi
The 3rd South Asian Regional Moot Court competition
took place in New Delhi from 26 to 28 October 2007. Jointly
organized by the Indian Society of International Law and the
ICRC, the competition brought together teams from Bangladesh,
India, Iran, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. Acting alternately
as defense and prosecution, the teams argued a factious case
in which various levels of international humanitarian law
violations had taken place. Offenses such as disproportionate
use of force, war crimes and crimes against humanity were
extensively debated in front of a professional panel of judges.
“Moot Court is our best dissemination asset amongst
students”, stressed Benarji Ch., ICRC New Delhi legal
advisor, in charge of IHL implementation in the Indian university
system. Eventually, the Indian team from Hyderabad College
won the final ahead of the team from Sri Lanka.
©JEAN-FRANÇOIS BERGER / ICRC
Established in 1912 by the Empress of Japan,
the Empress Shôken Fund promotes peacetime relief work
in the fields of disaster preparedness, health, blood services,
youth, first aid and rescue, social welfare and the dissemination
of humanitarian ideals. Over the past 13 years, the fund has
supported 142 National Society projects with a total value
of US$ 4 million. In 2007, recipients were the National Societies
of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Burkina Faso, Ecuador, Honduras,
Iran, Jordan, Lesotho, Sudan, Ukraine and Uzbekistan. Fund
administrators are calling for applications for the 2008 grants
by 31 December 2007.
For information, e-mail email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
In mid-2007, south-eastern Europe suffocated
under the highest temperatures in many years. The situation
was compounded by an outbreak of wild fires in Bulgaria, the
Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro, Romania
and Serbia. Hundreds of forest fires burned in Greece. In
Serbia, wheat and vegetable crops were scorched by the heat.
Working with local authorities, Red Cross teams across Europe
including in Bulgaria, Croatia, Hungary, Macedonia, Montenegro
and Romania were mobilized to distribute bottled water and
provide emergency first-aid and other health services, especially
for particularly vulnerable people such as the elderly. They
also distributed vital information to the public about how
to protect oneself from the heat.
holds IHL forum
The weighty issue of international humanitarian
law (IHL) was the topic of discussion at the Second Commonwealth
Red Cross and Red Crescent Conference held from 29 to 31 August
in Wellington, New Zealand. Over 150 delegates from eligible
Commonwealth governments, non-Commonwealth Pacific states,
Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, and national IHL committees
came together to share ideas and experiences on IHL issues.
New Zealand’s deputy prime minister, Michael Cullen,
recalled the importance of IHL in protecting the innocent
during times of conflict. “Its protection is for the
basics of humanity – no more, and certainly not any
less,” he said. Over the three days, the conference
heard from speakers such as Hans Blix, head of the Weapons
of Mass Destruction Commission, who highlighted the need for
renewed consensus on the elimination of weapons of mass destruction.
Blix referred to frustrations that nuclear-armed states were
not moving to disarm, a commitment made when they signed up
to the non-proliferation treaty. “It is not a recipe
for success to preach to the rest of the world that they must
stay away from nuclear weapons. Disarmament and non-proliferation
are two sides of the same coin,” he said.
Stephan Husy, commissioner of the 30th International Conference
of the Red Cross and Red Crescent, spoke about the upcoming
conference in November, while Nils Melzer of the ICRC focused
on the distinction between civilians and combatants and the
protection accorded to each during times of conflict.
©NEW ZEALAND RED CROSS
Continuous and heavy rains fell in north-east
Ghana in mid-2007, leaving at least 30 people dead from drowning,
watery diarrhoea or when their mud houses collapsed on them.
Sixteen other African countries were also badly hit by floods,
with Burkina Faso and Togo particularly affected. Crops, food
stores and livestock were washed away across many districts.
International Federation experts worried about reports of
cholera, watery diarrhoea and contaminated water. In addition,
there was a risk of river blindness. An international appeal
was launched but rescue and relief efforts were hampered by
the widespread destruction of roads and bridges. The appeal
aims at assisting 60,000 people for six months with tarpaulins,
kitchen sets, jerrycans, blankets, soap, candles and water
purification products, and health education.
REUTERS / GEORGE ESIRI, COURTESY ©www.alertnet.org
The situation is extremely alarming for
people everywhere in the Kivu provinces, Democratic Republic
of Congo. Fighting intensified in North Kivu, particularly
in the Masisi territory, at the beginning of September. The
conflict then spread to other areas such as Rutshuru and northern
Masisi. Fighting in Sake caused almost all the residents to
flee to the Goma area, 30 kilometres away. Despite the ceasefire
in Sake, people are not returning. Humanitarian organizations
estimate their number at 50,000, but it is difficult to confirm
this figure since many of the displaced are dispersed in host
families, churches and abandoned lots. And many families seek
a safer place to spend the night but return to their homes
in the daytime. Like North Kivu, South Kivu has been affected
by the fighting. The ICRC swung into action as soon as hostilities
erupted. On 15 September, five health-care facilities in Goma,
Kitchanga, Masisi and Matchumbi received supplies. At Katindo
military hospital in Goma, an ICRC surgeon is assisting staff
with the most serious cases. ICRC delegates registered and
monitored a number of persons detained in Goma in connection
with the conflict and has applied for access to all those
detained in this connection
©RICHARD WERLY / LE TEMPS / ICRC
After more than six weeks of negotiations,
19 hostages from the Republic of Korea, who were seized by
an Afghan armed opposition group in the province of Ghazni
were freed on 29 and 31 August. They were handed over to the
ICRC, which then delivered them to a South Korean delegation.
The ICRC, which had earlier facilitated the release of two
of the hostages on 13 August, served as a neutral intermediary
at the request of the parties concerned. It also helped organize
direct talks between the two parties at the provincial headquarters
of the Afghan Red Crescent in Ghazni.
“The release of the hostages is a huge relief for their
families,” said Reto Stocker, head of the ICRC delegation
in Kabul. The 23 South Koreans were abducted on 19 July while
travelling by bus on the main highway from Kandahar to Kabul.
Two of the hostages were subsequently executed.
AHMAD MASOOD, COURTESY www.alertnet.org
An item on page 29 of issue 2-2007 of Red Cross Red Crescent
magazine stated that two Lebanese Red Cross volunteers were
killed and a third wounded on 11 June when their vehicle was
struck by shelling from inside a Palestinian refugee camp.
This was incorrect. Two volunteers were killed near the Lebanese
Red Cross first-aid post close to Nahr el-Bared camp where
the Lebanese army had been fighting Fatah Islam. Their vehicle
was not struck; no third volunteer was involved. The editors
apologize for the error.