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World Red Cross Red Crescent Day

The growth of cities and the rise of urban violence are among the key themes highlighted during this year’s marking of Red Cross Red Crescent Day on 8 May. A day celebrating the commitment of Movement volunteers, this year’s event builds on the “Our world. Your move.” campaign with a joint IFRC-ICRC statement on the links between urbanization and issues of food security, poverty, healthcare, social services, violence, shelter, water and sanitation and internally displaced people, among other issues.


Movement cheers release of
two delegatess

The Red Cross Red Crescent Movement celebrated the release of two ICRC workers kidnapped in central Africa in late 2009. In February, ICRC agronomist Laurent Maurice was released 89 days after he was kid - napped in eastern Chad. Then, on 18 March, Gauthier Lefevre, the ICRC head of the Al Jeneina sub-delegation was finally freed, 147 days after he was abducted in Sudan’s West Darfur region.

“I knew that my ICRC colleagues would not forget me,” Lefevre said, thanking all who helped secure his release. Lefevre added that “the real victims” are the people of Darfur and that his kidnapping should not overshadow the important medical protection, relief and family-reunification work being done in Darfur.

“The ICRC Al Jeneina team carried out a number of successful projects in West Darfur in a very difficult environ ment with a limited number of security incidents,” he said. “That is how I would like to be remembered with the ICRC team.”

Both said their desire to help people in the region has not been dampened. “People affected by armed conflict who need protection and assistance have nothing to do with the kidnappers,” Maurice said. “They need clean drinking water, better harvests, food and shelter. I chose to work in the humanitarian field in order to help people.”


Families need answers

The ICRC has called on the government of Guatemala to do more to help families find out what happened to their loved ones during the country’s years of civil strife. “The relatives of those who went missing during the armed conflict are still in great distress; the story is not over yet,” said Christine Beerli, vice president of the ICRC, who visited Guatemala in February and submitted a report on the issue to top government officials.


Needs acute despite Yemen ceasefire

Since a ceasefire was agreed between the Yemeni government and Houthi militants in February, people harmed by the conflict in Sa’ada and Amran have been trying to rebuild their lives with support from the ICRC and the Yemen Red Crescent Society. Some are returning home, while others are leaving remote areas for places such as Sa’ada city and camps for internally displaced people, where basic services and humanitarian aid are available.

©REUTERS / Khaled Abdullah, COURTESY

Food crisis in Zimbabwe

With Zimbabwe’s 2010 harvest failing, the IFRC has renewed its plea for funds to help an estimated 2.17 million people in need of food aid. “In some parts of the country, the food situation is as bad as many of our volunteers and staff have ever seen it,” said Emma Kundishora, Secretary General of the Zimbabwe Red Cross Society. Increased desert ification and other issues have also worsened existing shortages in Niger, Sudan and Somalia.



A decade for road safety

The United Nations General Assembly declared 2011–2020 the Decade of Action for Road Safety. The road safety crisis, which claims 1.3 million lives annually, is “entirely man-made, and all the more shocking for being so,” said Matthias Schmale, IFRC under secretary general for develop ment, who addressed the General Assembly before the vote. “What makes the road crash crisis particularly horrific is that these deaths and injuries are preventable.”


Powerful quake rocks Chile

The Chilean Red Cross continues to work with the National Emergency Office in response to the powerful earthquake — measuring 8.8 on the Richter scale — that rocked Chile on 27 February. More than 528 people have been confirmed killed by the quake. Most died when a tsunami, caused by the tremor, struck a coastal strip of 500 kilometres. The Chilean Red Cross has been active in the hardest-hit areas, providing temporary shelter, sanitation and health services. Teams have also helped survivors reconnect with loved ones. The IFRC has announced an appeal of 13 million Swiss francs to provide relief support over the next year.



New homes in Myanmar

Almost two years after Cyclone Nargis, the Ayeyarwady delta is showing some signs of recovery. Major challenges remain, but thousands of survivors have received new houses, villages have been restored and fishermen have received boats. “Being safe and secure in our new home is such a nice feeling,” says 70-year-old widow Daw Tin Pu, as she sits with her 4-year-old grandson in a shelter built by the Myanmar Red Cross Society.



A ‘full-blooded’ appeal

As host of World Blood Donation Day on 14 June, Barcelona has kicked off a year-long campaign — dubbed “Full- blooded Barcelona” — with TV spots showing players from the city’s football team, Barcelona FC, making their own donations. This year, Barcelona takes over from Melbourne as the international capital of World Blood Donation Day, which is sponsored by the IFRC, the International Federation of Blood Donor Organizations, the International Society of Blood Transfusion and the World Health Organization.



Landslides devastate villages

Unusually heavy rains in Nametsi, eastern Uganda, caused a catas trophic landslide that completely wiped out three villages in early March. The Uganda Red Cross Society immediately deployed some 60 volunteers, who trekked three hours to the site then began digging for victims amid the mud and rock. The slide killed more than 93 people and left 265 others missing. Some 42 people had been rescued as this magazine went to press.

©REUTERS/James Akena, courtesy


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