International Committee of the Red Cross
International Committee of the Red Cross

Regional Delegation for the United States and Canada

In This Issue:
World Red Cross Red Crescent Day 2009
Interview with ICRC President Jakob Kellenberger
Sri Lanka: Humanitarian Assistance Can No Longer Reach Civilians
Humanity in War: Frontline Photography Since 1860
Philippines: Eugenio Vagni Enters Fifth Month of Captivity

On April 18, the ICRC confirmed that Andreas Notter, one of three staff members abducted in the southern Philippines on January 15, was freed. He spent 93 days in captivity.
Eugenio Vagni, with whom Notter shared the kidnapping ordeal, is not yet free, entering his fifth month of captivity. Mr. Notter and Mr. Vagni were kidnapped in mid-January, along with Mary Jean Lacaba, near the Jolo Provincial jail, where they were working on a water and sanitation project. Mrs. Lacaba was released on April 2.
The ICRC remains in close contact with everyone involved in efforts to resolve this crisis, in particular the local and national authorities. 
The latest ICRC news from around the globe
Watch the ICRC's newest film
International Humanitarian Law: A Universal Code
IHL: A Universal Code
Is international humanitarian law up to the job of protecting the people affected by modern-day armed conflicts? This film looks in turn at the poor security conditions frequently confronting the civilian population, the fact that people often have to flee their homes, hostage-taking, the dangers posed by cluster munitions, and the work of preventing and punishing war crimes. It tells us the basic rules of the law and reminds us that respecting them is everyone's responsibility.
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. 
Join Our Mailing List
News and Notes
May 2009

On May 8, the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement launched a year-long celebration to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Solferino and the birth of the Red Cross Red Crescent idea. 
The ICRC has organized events around the world to bring attention to the plight of civilians affected by conflict and to encourage everyone to make a difference in his or her community. The "Our World. Your Move" web portal provides full details and we hope you get a chance to visit it soon.
We are also very pleased to bring the OUR WORLD AT WAR photo exhibit to the United States and Canada. Five award-winning war photographers from the VII photo agency - James Nachtwey, Franco Pagetti, Antonin Kratochvil, Ron Haviv and Christopher Morris - unite in this exhibition to bring individual stories of loss and suffering in war to the forefront of the world's attention. The show is currently on display in New York and will be at the Newseum in Washington, DC throughout the summer. In Canada, viewers can see the show in Ottawa, Toronto, and Victoria.

As always, for the latest news, please consult our website at
Kind regards,
The ICRC Washington Delegation
World Red Cross Red Crescent Day 2009
"All can, in one way or another, each in his own sphere and within his own limitations, do something to help the good work forward." -- Henry Dunant
This year, the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement marks the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Solferino with a campaign to that celebrates Dunant's belief that individuals have the power to make a difference. 

The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement has launched the Our World. Your Move. campaign - an ambitious undertaking aimed at raising awareness of today's Solferinos and the unprecedented challenges we all face, ranging from armed conflict and mass displacement to climate change and the global economic crisis.
DRC - Ron Haviv, Our World at WarAs a part of this celebration, the ICRC launched a new photo exhibit entitled OUR WORLD AT WAR, featuring images from five of the world's leading war photographers, with events in Geneva and many other cities around the globe.
In the United States, the ICRC launched OUR WORLD AT WAR on May 8 in New York City at 401 Projects in Lower Manhattan. The gallery reception that evening featured a conversation with CNN Chief International Correspondent Christiane Amanpour, VII Photo Agency photographers Ron Haviv and Franco Pagetti, and Alberto Cairo and Geoff Loane of the ICRC. The exhibit is on display until May 17.
OUR WORLD AT WAR will next travel to Washington, DC, where it will be on display at the Newseum, from June 5 until September 7.

Interview with ICRC President Jakob Kellenberger

From April 20-22, 2009, President of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Jakob Kellenberger, met with many senior officials in the U.S. administration.  They included Attorney General Eric Holder, U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Director of the Central Intelligence Agency Leon Panetta, Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair, National Security Adviser General James Jones, and Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security Jane Holl Lute. In addition, Mr. Kellenberger met with Chairwoman of the Board of Governors of the American Red Cross Bonnie McElveen-Hunter.
Here he takes the time to answer a few questions posed by the ICRC Washington delegation staff:
How would you characterize the level and quality of dialogue during your first meetings in Washington with the new administration?
Both the level and quality of dialogue were excellent. The opportunity to share the ICRC's viewpoint with so many policymakers during these three days is very important. I was particularly interested in discussing the follow-up to the Executive Orders of January 22, 2009, concerning the closure of the detention facilities at Guantanamo Bay and related U.S. detention and interrogation policies.
How does this visit to Washington, DC, compare to the visits you have made to other ICRC field delegations?
If one is to make a distinction, which is difficult, the two different types of visits I make are seeing operations in the field, like my visits to Darfur, and engaging in what you might call humanitarian diplomacy, like my visits to Washington. This is when the ICRC discusses policy, legal, and operational issues.
Which humanitarian crises are of particular concern to you today?
Unfortunately many crises concern us today, but to take those of biggest concern, I would point to Pakistan, Afghanistan, just now Sri Lanka, Somalia, Gaza, and the rural areas of Darfur. Clearly, these are all priority operations for the ICRC, and we intend to respond robustly to humanitarian needs in these situations.
Hintermann Kellenberger Loane
Pictured L-R: Barbara Hintermann, Head of Operations Europe and North America; Jakob Kellenberger, President of the ICRC; Geoff Loane, Head of Regional Delegation for United States and Canada

Reuters - Medical staff assist man at Pulmudai temporary hospitalSri Lanka: Humanitarian Assistance Can No Longer Reach Civilians
On May 14, the ICRC reported that in northeastern Sri Lanka, hundreds of seriously wounded or ill patients blocked in the conflict area have been waiting in vain for several days for desperately needed medical care.

For the third consecutive day, a ferry chartered by the ICRC and anchoring only a few kilometers away from the patients has been unable to evacuate them because of continuous heavy fighting.

"Our staff are witnessing an unimaginable humanitarian catastrophe," said the ICRC's director of operations, Pierre Krähenbühl, from the ICRC's headquarters in Geneva today. "Despite high-level assurances, the lack of security on the ground means that our sea operations continue to be stalled, and this is unacceptable," added Mr Krähenbühl. "No humanitarian organization can help them in the current circumstances. People are left to their own devices."

Thousands of people remain trapped in a small area along the coast within the conflict zone. As fighting goes on unabated, civilians are forced to seek protection in hand-dug bunkers, making it even more difficult to fetch scarce drinking water and food.

ICRC Director of Operations Pierre Krähenbühl An ICRC ferry, the Green Ocean, is carrying 25 metric tonnes of urgently needed food. The last time the ICRC could offload food and medical supplies and evacuate patients was last Saturday, May 9. In addition to the ferry, a cargo ship, the Oriental Princess, carrying another 500 metric tonnes of food from the World Food Program, is waiting off the coast north of Mullaittivu, ready to deliver the food to civilians.

"We need security and unimpeded access now in order to save hundreds of lives," said Mr Krähenbühl. "The ICRC stands ready to carry out its humanitarian work as soon as conditions permit."
Humanity in War: Frontline Photography Since 1860
Humanity in War: Frontline Photography Since 1860 Since the second half of the nineteenth century, photography has played a fundamental role in opening the world's eyes to the horrors of war. During the same period, the ICRC has worked to alleviate the suffering of victims of armed conflict around the world.
In a new book, Humanity in War, the ICRC traces the history of war and its humanitarian consequences from the American Civil War to modern-day conflicts with striking images that bring to life the pain and anguish of men, women and children who endured the hardships of war. It features an introduction by James Nachtwey and can be ordered online.