Just around sunset, on 18 October 1998,
a train approaching Kafr El Dawar station, south of Alexandria,
was to be diverted onto a storage track to allow the French
express to Cairo to pass. It derailed and entered the station
at high speed smashing everything in its path. Consequently
46 people died and 77 were wounded, among whom 42 who lost
The Egyptian Red Crescent (ERC) branches in Beheira and Alexandria
immediately went into action. The relief committee and youth
volunteers were called into action, a 24-hour emergency response
centre was set up, and a working group was formed to visit
families of the victims.
Suzan Moubarak, president of the ERC, visited the wounded
in several hospitals in Alexandria, Kafr El Dawar and Beheira,
met with ERC officials and discussed medical and social care
for the families of the dead and wounded. Following a needs
assessment, the ERC provided wheelchairs for the wounded and
financial assistance to the most vulnerable families. Action
was also taken to find employment opportunities, in coordination
with governmental and other non-governmental organizations,
to the families who lost the breadwinner in this tragedy.
Reaching out across the sea
A small two-room apartment on the eighth
floor of an office building in down-town Macau is bringing
Philippine National Red Cross (PNRC) services direct to an
estimated 15,000 to 20,000 overseas migrants. It is the first
of what the PNRC hopes will be several such offices offering
much-needed psychosocial services to overseas Filipino workers
around Asia and the Middle East.
“We are here to help,” Leonor Ines Luciano, chairwoman
of the board of governors of the PNRC, told a group of Filipino
migrants, who had gathered in a Macau school to hear about
the project. “The Red Cross is a sharing organization.”
Many of the Macau Filipinos live and work in the hotel district,
the women as maids and the men as security guards. The PNRC
office gives them a friendly face to turn to in case of problems.
A recent study commissioned by the Federation’s regional
delegation in Kuala Lumpur concluded that while migration
tends to benefit both host and home country as well as the
migrants themselves, it also leaves individual overseas workers
exposed to abuse and mistreatment.
Often, they end up in the twilight zone of semi-legality
because of documentation problems that may stem from inability
to get a birth certificate or other papers from home. For
this reason, it is expected that much of the work of the Philippine
Red Cross Liaison Center in Macau will be to connect the migrants
with authorities and family in the home country.
The emergency medical and ambulance services
(EMS) of the Palestine Red Crescent Society (PRCS) is extending
its scope of activities. Following the donation of five ambulances
by the ICRC, the European Community Humanitarian Office and
the the city of Düsseldorf (Germany) last November, the
EMS is now functioning in Gaza, in addition to its current
programmes in the West Bank.
A training centre was set up in Khan Younis, several training
courses for emergency medical technicians (EMT) and a modern
radio communication network have been implemented.
Today, the 45 ambulances respond to an average of more than
2,000 calls each month, providing assistance to victims of
traffic accidents, heart attacks, strokes, work accidents,
burns, poisonings and birth delivery cases as well as those
injured in clashes.
The newly revamped Henry Dunant Centre
for Humanitarian Dialogue in Geneva is now operational. Martin
Griffiths has been appointed executive director of the centre
and is responsible for daily management. An old hand at humanitarian
affairs, Martin Griffiths will have to implement two essential
objectives: to develop a dialogue in which all players concerned
by humanitarian issues can exchange experiences around informal
round tables and to promote sustainable solutions to humanitarian
The ICRC delegation and the Jordanian Red
Crescent, in cooperation with the Ministry of Education, have
introduced a chapter on the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement
in the history textbook of the Tawjihi class –Tawjihi
is the senior grade in secondary education.
The information about the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement
covers the last chapter of the textbook called “Modern
Arab and World History”, which includes basic historical
background information on the modern world, Arabs under colonialism,
the post-independence Arab world, the establishment of Jordan,
democratic institutions in Jordan, modern world ideologies,
contemporary economic and military pacts and coalitions, international
and regional organizations, and independent humanitarian organizations.
Currently a total of 34,000 students are enrolled in the
of the world – a world of books
For five years now, the Geneva branch of
the Swiss Red Cross has been carrying out an original experiment.
It has set up an intercultural library for the many foreigners,
in particular refugees, living in Geneva. The project aims
to facilitate integration and mutual acceptance among people
of different cultures in the region. Divided between two centres,
the intercultural library boasts some 10,000 books in 115
languages. Most of the books are either gifts from private
individuals or donated by publishing companies or the National
Library. So why not also look to National Societies as a potential
source of material? “That is one avenue that we are
currently exploring,” says Karin Ducret, who is in charge
of the library.
banners to depict 50 years of Geneva Conventions
The Geneva Conventions, which stipulate
rules and regulations in warfare, were signed in Geneva on
12 August 1949. Exactly 50 years later, the ICRC plans to
bring together on 12 August 1999 a group of internationally
renowned figures, including UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan,
to issue a solemn appeal. This appeal is to reflect the concerns
and expectations of thousands of men and women who have suffered
the tragedy of war.
That same day, an exhibition of 50 large banners, created
by the Geneva-based artist Françoise Bridel, will be
inaugurated. These banners depict excerpts from the Geneva
Conventions or quotes from men and women affected by war against
a backdrop of confronting images.
The 50 banners will be suspended on walls of various buildings
in the centre of Geneva and its surrounding areas. In addition,
more than one hundred streamers will be displayed in Geneva’s
principal streets and public squares. The banners and streamers
will be on exhibition for almost three months until 6 November
1999, the end of the 27th International Conference of the
Red Cross and Red Crescent.
In keeping with its ideal of stopping hostility
of every kind, the French Red Cross has joined the "Group
of Six". This group brings together six associations
that have resolved to fight violence in all its guises: not
only well-publicized urban violence, but also violence hidden
behind closed doors in families and institutions.
This alliance of six large associations, the Salvation Army,
ATD Quart-Monde, the French Red Cross, Emmaus France, Secours
Catholique and Secours Populaire Français, has set
itself the goal of raising public awareness of the need to
find long-term solutions to violence. To launch the initiative,
the "Group of Six" designated 1 and 2 October 1999
as "days of non-violence". These two days will provide
an occasion for the media, families, schools and businesses
to celebrate and reflect on ways to mobilize against violence.
Thanks to this coalition, study groups have been created
and a huge network activated, greatly increasing the impact
of each association's actions, in particular those of the
French Red Cross's urban moderators, who are working to combat
inner-city violence by establishing close relationships with
For the past year, the Somali Red Crescent
(SRCS) together with the ICRC have restored links between
family members separated by the ongoing conflict in Somalia.
Family messages are collected or distributed in urban areas
home to large numbers of internally displaced people such
as Hargeisa, Mogadishu and Kismayo. Thousands more are exchanged
with the help of other National Societies, such as the Kenya
Red Cross, which transfer messages from Somali refugees in
camps to relatives across the border. Tracing requests are
also handled with the support of the the BBC Somali service,
whose regular braodcasts of messages have enabled many Somali
to locate relatives successfully. Overall, 29,000 family messages
were exchanged last year.
Top | Contact
Us | Credits
© 2003 | Copyright