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FOR some of us, it is something we do every day. For others it is a sign of new wealth and development. But getting in your car and driving is a norm in any modern society. What few of us think about is how dangerous this everyday activity can be.

The International Federation’s 1998 World Disasters Report, published in 1999, first raised the alarm about safety on the world’s roads, particularly in developing countries. And last year, the World Health Organization released a pioneering report with alarming data. It estimated that worldwide, some 1.2 million people are killed in road crashes each year and as many as 50 million are injured, often resulting in disability. About 90 per cent of road accidents happen in developing countries, most of them among pedestrians, bicyclists, motorcyclists and passengers of public transport. The report projected that death and injury on the road will increase by about 65 per cent over the next 20 years.

Despite the terrifying facts and figures, most people fail to recognize this very real global public health hazard. But much can and is being done to reverse this mindset. This issue of Red Cross Red Crescent highlights the crucial role the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement plays in raising road safety standards at the local, national, regional and global levels. The next step is to ratchet up these efforts so that every National Society sounds the alarm about road safety.

This issue also features extended coverage of the latest developments following the Asian tsunami. As the humanitarian situation has stabilized in the affected countries, governmental authorities and aid agencies have shifted focus to recovery, rehabilitation and reconstruction. The Movement is working in a coordinated manner, with the strengthening of the capacity of National Societies in tsunami-hit countries a crucial part of its reconstruction effort.

This extended coverage provides insight into Red Cross and Red Crescent operations. With the world watching the reconstruction progress, we need to ensure that assistance to the victims meets their needs, and that the millions of people who donated money and material assistance are informed of the obstacles and achievements on the path to recovery.

Jean-François Berger
ICRC editor

Jean Milligan
International Federation editor

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