International Committee of the Red Cross
 
 
International Committee of the Red Cross
Regional Delegation for the United States and Canada 
 
In This Issue:
ICRC Confirms Release of One Kidnapped Staff Member
Our World. Your Move.
Humanitarian Action Summit 2009
Interview with Pierre Gentile, Head of Unit, Protection of Civilian Population
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ICRC Confirms Release of One Kidnapped Staff Member
On April 2, 2009, Mary Jean Lacaba, one of three ICRC staff who were abducted in the southern Philippines on January 15, was released.

While relieved that Ms. Lacaba will soon be back with her family, the ICRC remains very concerned about the safety of its other two kidnapped staff.

"For Eugenio Vagni and Andreas Notter, their loved ones and the whole of the ICRC, the nightmare of this abduction is not over," said Alain Aeschlimann, the ICRC's head of operations for East Asia, South-East Asia and the Pacific. "Once again, we ask that they remain unharmed. While we welcome this first positive move, especially after a very tense and difficult week, we reiterate our appeal to the kidnappers to let Eugenio Vagni and Andreas Notter go without delay and unconditionally."
 
 
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Water and War
Water and War
This publication  analyzes water and sanitation challenges from the point of view of operational practice, which has developed and become more professional over time.
 
 
ICRC Mission
The ICRC is an impartial, neutral, and independent organization whose exclusively humanitarian mission is to protect the lives and dignity of victims of war and internal violence and to provide them with assistance. 
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News and Notes
April 2009
 
Greetings!

This is a very important year for the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, commemorating most notably the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Solferino, which one can argue started it all, and the 60th anniversary of the 1949 Geneva Conventions. To mark these occasions, the ICRC is very pleased to share more information about the launch of the "Our World. Your Move" campaign and its accompanying web portal. We hope you will visit soon! 
 
We also hope you enjoy reading the other articles below, and as always, for the latest news, please consult our website at www.icrc.org.
 
Kind regards,
The ICRC Washington Delegation
 
 
Our World. Your Move.
Our World. Your Move. Online Portal
 
As part of the "Our world. Your move." campaign, which officially launches on May 8, World Red Cross Red Crescent Day, the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement has launched a new web portal, www.ourworld-yourmove.org!
 
The site puts the spotlight on the human cost of wars, climate change, displacement, disease, food insecurity and forgotten crises. It also invites members of the public to post videos and photos, and write about what they are doing to help others. The online gateway features images from award-winning photographers such as James Nachtwey and Ron Haviv, personal accounts from conflict and disaster survivors, and a wealth of ideas for anyone looking for ways to be involved.

The site's launch in 2009 coincides with the 150th anniversary of the battle of Solferino, which led to the creation of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement.

We encourage you to post your stories and images by clicking on the "TELL YOUR STORY" link on the Home page.
 
In addition, the ICRC, through a collaboration with the VII Photo Agency, will launch the "Our World - At War" photo exhibit in New York City on May 8. The show runs from May 8 until May 17 at 401 Projects in Lower Manhattan. It will then travel to Washington, DC, and perhaps to a city near you. Stay tuned for details!
 
 
Humanitarian Action Summit 2009Humanitarian Action Summit 2009
 
From March 26-28, the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative hosted the 2009 Humanitarian Action Summit in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Representatives from across the humanitarian sphere gathered to exchange ideas and expertise on a variety of topics. Guest speakers included Dr. Richard Horton, Editor-in-Chief of the Lancet, and Sir John Holmes, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordination with the United Nations.
 
The ICRC Regional Delegation was active at the Summit, co-chairing the Working Group on the Protection of Civilians in Conflict. Regarding the ICRC's participation, Harvard Humanitarian Initiative Co-director Jennifer Leaning, MD, SMH, remarked, "It is widely understood that the ICRC Working Group on Protection of Civiliansis sophisticated and professional when it comes to civilian protection, both in theory and in field operations. What was not as well understood is the content of the ICRC approach and what part can be adopted or adapted by all humanitarian NGOs." She further pointed to the important role the ICRC plays in improving education on the subject of civilian protection.
 
 

Interview with Pierre Gentile, Head of Unit, Protection of Civilian Population 
Pierre Gentile
Since February 2007, Pierre has worked at ICRC headquarters in Geneva to provide tools and methodology for delegates implementing activities for the protection of civilians in conflict and other situations of violence. He recently visited Cambridge, New York, and Washington, DC.

You must be asked frequently, what does "civilian protection" mean? How do you answer?
 
Civilians are often extremely vulnerable when violent conflict erupts. Protection of civilians means ensuring that armed groups and authorities take all the measures necessary to respect the rights and dignity of civilians in the midst of this violence.
 
How does the ICRC's approach to civilian protection differ from other groups working on similar issues?
 
The ICRC works on two levels: First, it talks to authorities and armed groups to ensure that they respect the rights and dignity of individuals and communities in the midst of armed conflict. Second, it works with these same communities to find ways to limit whenever possible their exposure to risk.
 
What are the ICRC's priorities in terms of civilian protection in 2009?
 
I see four priorities for 2009. The first is related to the conduct of hostilities. Unfortunately today, civilians are still paying a high price when armed groups or armies clash. We need to make sure that all parties to a conflict respect the distinction between combatant and noncombatant.
 
The second priority is related to displacement, which often occurs when violence breaks out. The ICRC strives to make sure that this displacement is averted if possible. But once displacement happens, the ICRC works to make sure people on the move also have their rights and dignity respected.
 
The third priority is to work complementarily with other humanitarian or human rights actors so that better services can be delivered to communities in need. Finally, we are working with humanitarian and human rights organizations active in the field of protection to define professional standards for protection work in situations of violence. We hope that this will help orient new actors getting into the field of civilian protection.
 
How do you see your visit to the United States in terms of these initiatives?
 
My visit to the United States has provided the opportunity to explore possible synergies between humanitarian and human right actors in terms of better engagement with authorities on civilian protection. Together we can take advantage of our different ways of working and respect each other's guiding principles. Specifically, this visit has allowed the ICRC to continue its consultations with different groups, for example those affiliated with InterAction, the umbrella group for U.S.-based NGOs. We hope to move forward on the establishment of professional standards for protection work in situations of armed conflict
 
You've met with several groups during your visit. What are you taking away from these meetings?
 
Protection of civilians is an important and central theme for many of the people I met this week. I have heard a collective will expressed, as much by academics and NGOs as by representatives of different governmental bodies that more can be done to enhance protection of civilians. I also take away that as a community we need to find efficient interfaces between political, military, and humanitarian actors, without blurring the lines delineating the different roles of each. 
 
 
Parlez-vous français ?
If your answer is "bien sur!," then you may like to read the blog of ICRC Paris spokesperson, Frédéric Joli. Frédéric brings his readers many interesting interviews, photos, and videos. Viewers can also send in their comments.
 
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