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Dunant Café
The International Museum of the Red Cross and Red Crescent in Geneva has a new exhibition space. The Today section spotlights current events and the latest news from the field. Photos, films, objects and written testimonies are displayed via audiovisual presentations and computer terminals, bringing a viewer closer to the Movement's work. In the Café Dunant, the public can broaden its knowledge of the work of the Red Cross and Red Crescent by means of multimedia aids. These innovations aim to put the accent on the victim's point of view, while showing that something can and is being done to help.
Lessons Learned
Tegucigalpa, the capital of Honduras, is a dangerous city to live in. It is not only because crime and drug abuse are widespread but also due to natural disasters. Over 20 per cent of the population in the city live in constant risk of flooding and mudslides. "There are various reasons people still live in these risk areas but mainly they don't have anywhere else to go," says Alexis Betancourt, who heads the Honduran Red Cross rescue operations in the capital.

Hurricane Mitch exposed the immense vulnerability of not only Tegucigalpa, but the whole of Central America. Around 10,000 people lost their lives in the hurricane and 2 million people were directly affected. This year, heavy rains caused evacuations of numerous communities and serious damage to the country's already weakened infrastructure.

Mitch was a bitter wake-up call. Government authorities and aid agencies realized it was critical to begin decreasing the region's vulnerability to, and increasing their preparation for, future disasters.

"The objective is twofold. One is to strengthen the capacities of the Honduran Red Cross to respond to disasters. This is done in part by the pre-stocking of emergency stock like plastic sheeting, blankets and emergency food supplies," says Jon Carver, Federation disaster preparedness delegate. "The second objective is to help the Honduran Red Cross to work with the local communities in disaster preparedness and to explain to people the level of risk they live in, the options they may have and the small things they can do to minimize their risk."
Explosions in Moscow
Urban terrorism, whether in the dead of night with massive bombs or with small devices in a crowded shopping mall, brought fear and confusion to the heart of Russia's capital earlier this year.

Russian authorities, blaming Islamic separatists from the North Caucasus, have cracked down on security in major cities, and are waging a war in the republic of Chechnya during which two workers from the Chechen branch of the Russian Red Cross were reportedly killed. Rescue services in Moscow were hard-pressed to deal with the carnage from the bombing - 300 corpses were pulled out of the rubble, along with scores of survivors.

"It is terrible," said Anna Kalashnikova of the Russian Red Cross rescue service, speaking about the third major explosion. "People were just about to wake up and start a day of national mourning for the victims of the blasts when another one occurred."

The Federation immediately released funds to help the National Society organize soup kitchens, food for the injured and their relatives, and the distribution of clothes, footwear and bed linen.
A Summer Holiday
Independence. Humanity. Unity....
These principles were pronounced daily at a Russian Red Cross (RRC) summer camp in the Pskov region, 800 km north-west of Moscow. They were the names of seven teams of children participating in the camp.

"A school for communication" - that is how the Pskov branch of the RRC described the camp which brought together 40 children from needy migrant families with 30 children living with mental and physical disabilities. This is the first attempt in the region to try and address the problems of the social and psychological rehabilitation of children living in difficult circumstances.

"We spent a lot of time and effort in preparing this summer camp," says the chairman of Pskov region RRC, Peter Vasilevsky. "Our main concern was whether and how the children would live and play together, would they enjoy each other's company? Would we be able to care for them? After the first day, we sighed with relief as the children proved to us once again that they have an amazing capacity to adapt to new environments and make new friends."
A bitter homecoming
"I want to go home, but I cannot afford a place in a lorry," cried a middle-aged woman in a refugee camp in Kukes, "and I am afraid of the landmines." Legitimate fears that concerned many refugee families preparing to return to Kosovo, following the deployment of an international security force in mid-June.

As quickly as they arrived, the refugees left camps in Albania and Macedonia on foot, by bus or taxi. The UNHCR organized bus services from the camps to the principal towns inside Kosovo. This may have solved the transport problem for thousands of near-penniless returnees, but for many others they had to pay 40 Deutschmarks per person for a ride in a private car or lorry.

People's fears about landmine accidents were harder to overcome. Even before the refugees went back, the ICRC, UNICEF, CARE International and other aid agencies began intensive mine awareness campaigns. Tens of thousands of leaflets explaining the risks were distributed with Red Cross food parcels, and handed out by volunteers at strategic points along the route into Kosovo. However, nothing could prepare families fully for the shock of finding their fields littered with mines and unexploded munitions. More than 230 people had become mine victims by the end of September.
An isle of instability
The situation seriously deteriorated on the island of Timor following the announcement of the results of the referendum on 3 September to determine the future status of East Timor. To escape the rising tensions, a large part of the civilian population fled to various points on the island and beyond. The ICRC launched a massive humanitarian operation, with the support of the Indonesian Red Cross and the aid of several other National Societies. Medical supplies, food and material assistance are the main priorities for the time being; alongside its relief efforts, the ICRC is running programmes to restore contact between dispersed families - mainly through Red Cross messages - and for the protection of civilians and fighters hors combat.






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