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

Regional Delegation for the United States and Canada

In This Issue:
Our World At War: Photojournalism Beyond the Front Lines Now on Exhibit at the Newseum
Interview with Jacques de Maio, ICRC Head of Operations for South Asia
Pakistan: Thousands Need Food, Water, and Medical Care
Third Annual International Humanitarian Law Course Held at UVA School of Law
Philippines: Eugenio Vagni sorely missed amid continuing concerns for his safety
ICRC staff member Eugenio Vagni was seized by armed gunmen on January 15 and is still being held captive on the island of Jolo in the Philippines.
The ICRC's head of operations for East Asia, South-East Asia and the Pacific, Alain Aeschlimann, comments on the current situation.

Has Eugenio been able to get in touch with his family lately?

Yes, Eugenio called his wife on Tuesday, June 2. One cannot but admire the courage and stoicism shown by Eugenio and his wife and by the rest of his family in Italy throughout this ordeal. We hope that the nightmare of this abduction will soon be over.

What is the ICRC doing to secure Eugenio's release?

We are doing everything we can. Many people are working behind the scenes to resolve this crisis, and we are grateful for their efforts. We appreciate the continuing efforts of national and local authorities to resolve this crisis.

How is the ICRC carrying on with its work?

At the ICRC, we are extremely concerned about Eugenio's safety and well-being. His colleagues and friends in the Philippines feel his absence keenly every day. Nevertheless, they carry on with their work. The ICRC brings water to displaced people in Mindanao and works to improve hygiene and sanitary conditions in jails. However, the office is not the same without Eugenio. The Christmas decorations he put up last December are still there, waiting for him to take them down. We want Eugenio and his family to know how much he is missed by his colleagues. We hope the abductors will heed our repeated appeals and release him at once.
The latest ICRC news from around the globe
Clarifying the Notion of Direct Participation in Hostilities
Interpretive Guidance on the Notion of Direct Participation in Hostilities under IHL  
Direct Participation in Hostilities
International humanitarian law (IHL) hinges on the principle of the distinction between combatants, whose function is to conduct hostilities during armed conflict, and civilians, who are presumed not to be directly participating in the hostilities and, therefore, entitled to full protection from attack. They lose this protection only if, and for as long as they "directly participate in hostilities." After six years of expert discussions and research, the ICRC has published the "Interpretive Guidance," which aims to clarify the meaning and consequences of direct participation in hostilities under IHL.
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
June 2009

This month the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement commemorates the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Solferino, which took place on June 24, 1859. The intense fighting left the battlefield strewn with more than 6,000 dead and 40,000 wounded. The medical services of the French and Sardinian armies were overwhelmed. Those wounded who were able to do so headed for the nearest village -- Castiglione -- in search of food and water. Soon, 9,000 persons poured into houses and barns, squares and narrow streets.
In the village church, Henry Dunant, helped by local women, cared for the wounded and dying for three days and three nights. Dunant detailed the experience in his book Memory of Solferino. The call to alleviate the suffering of the wounded left without care served as inspiration for the founding of the Red Cross, which has today become the world's largest humanitarian network.  
Activities are scheduled across the globe this month, including a gathering of youth in Solferino itself, where thousands of volunteers will walk to celebrate the humanitarian spirit. In the United States and Canada, the ICRC is pleased to share the Our World at War exhibit with the public. Read on for more information.
As always, for the latest news, please consult our website at
Kind regards,
The ICRC Washington Delegation
Our World At War: Photojournalism Beyond the Front Lines Now on Exhibit at the Newseum
"These images are showing the resilience of the human spirit," Ron Haviv, VII Photographer 
DRC - Ron Haviv, Our World at WarOn June 5, the ICRC, in collaboration with VII Photo and the Newseum, launched a new photo exhibit entitled Our World at War: Photojournalism Beyond the Front Lines.
 The ICRC sent five award-winning photojournalists -- Ron Haviv, Antonin Kratochvil, Christopher Morris, James Nachtwey, and Franco Pagetti -- to eight countries to document how war and armed conflict have affected people's lives.
The result of their work is featured in 40 photos, on display at the Newseum in Washington, DC until September 7, 2009.
A selection of the photographs is concurrently on display in the lobby of the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa, now through June 29, 2009.
Football for Life - Christopher Morris/ICRC/VIIAfter its stay in Washington, DC and Ottawa, the exhibit will tour to several cities in the United States and Canada.  
The exhibit is part of a global campaign to raise awareness of humanitarian challenges and to mark the 150th anniversary of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement.


Interview with Jacques de Maio, ICRC Head of Operations for South Asia

Jacques de Maio
Jacques de Maio, ICRC Head of Operations for South Asia since September 2007, recently traveled to the United States and Canada for meetings with government officials, civil society representatives, and the American Red Cross and Canadian Red Cross.
Here he takes time to answer a few questions for our newsletter:
What is the ICRC doing in response to the recent large-scale displacement in Pakistan?
The ICRC has been assisting more than 130,000 people who were displaced in August 2008 and is currently adjusting its response to help a total of 380,000 displaced people in the coming weeks and months. In response to the intensified fighting in recent weeks, which has triggered massive displacement, the ICRC is providing basic humanitarian assistance in areas that are not accessible to the United Nations, or other humanitarian agencies. In addition, the ICRC is supporting the Pakistani Red Crescent, which is conducting a large-scale relief operation in various camps in North West Frontier Province. [Read more on ICRC's work in Pakistan below.]
Is the situation for civilians in Afghanistan improving or deteriorating? What is the ICRC doing to address ongoing needs?
The situation for civilians in Afghanistan has been dire over the past three decades, and, more recently, deteriorating in parts of the country. Currently, now that the dynamics of the conflict are intensifying, more places are affected by armed conflict and prevailing insecurity, particularly in the south and southeast of the country. This leads to a deterioration of living conditions and personal security. In response, the ICRC is adapting its longstanding, multifaceted operation that ranges from visiting detainees to reconnecting separated family members to providing emergency support in conflict areas. The ICRC also addresses with the belligerents the absolute imperative to fully respect the laws of war with the aim of minimizing the impact of fighting on the civilian population.
How do you see the humanitarian situation in Sri Lanka evolving over the coming months?
The actual armed hostilities have ended, and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) no longer control territory. A full range of outstanding humanitarian needs, however, have arisen directly from the recent military action. Civilians have been shelled, killed, separated from family members and require access to adequate medial care. Hundreds of thousands of people are in camps, exhausted by years of war and displacement. The situation will continue to be difficult, although with the end of the war, there is opportunity to rebuild and reconstruct. That is important. But our point is that many humanitarian concerns require attention during the transition.
What key messages are you delivering to audiences in the United States and Canada on this visit?
The fundamental point of my visit is to highlight the specificity of the ICRC's role in conflict ridden areas of Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Sri Lanka. The ICRC stands for strictly neutral, independent humanitarian action. We think that our relevance in these contexts has been proven in that the ICRC can access areas that are not accessible to others in the international community and deliver meaningful services, both in terms of protection and assistance. The ICRC is grateful for the support it receives and encourages all states, including the United States and Canada, to continue support for neutral, independent humanitarian action, and when they are party to the conflict as in Afghanistan, to take all necessary steps to minimize the impact on civilians.

Pakistan: Thousands Need Food, Water, and Medical Care 
The security situation in Dir and Swat districts, in the North West Frontier Province (NWFP), remains volatile. A curfew is still in place in Swat, where streets are almost empty and most shops remain closed. While the harvesting season is almost over, very few people are tending their fields. The population still does not have access to electricity, water and telecommunications.

Most residents fled the fighting of the past weeks but an estimated 40,000 residents still live in Swat today.

Mingora, Swat. Food being delivered to Saidu Teaching Hospital by the ICRC"Every time we entered a village, hundreds of people asked for help", says Michael von Bergen, a delegate who was in a convoy delivering assistance in Swat last weekend.
"Those who did not leave are now desperate. They need food, clean water and working medical facilities". The ICRC, the only international humanitarian organization active in Swat and Lower Dir, has started to assist residents there.

The organization is stepping up its support for people affected by fighting in Pakistan's NWFP. It is working closely with the Pakistan Red Crescent Society (PRCS) and other partners within the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement.
Following an appeal to donors on June 4, the ICRC budget for its Pakistan operation stands at over 90 million Swiss francs, making the operation the organization's third largest worldwide. To read more about ICRC activities in Pakistan, click here.
Third Annual International Humanitarian Law Course Held at UVA School of Law
ICRC-UVA-TJAGLCSFrom May 27-29, the ICRC co-hosted with the University of Virginia Law School's Human Rights Program and the U.S. Army's The Judge Advocate General's Legal Center and School (TJAGLCS) the third annual "Applying International Humanitarian Law" seminar.  This seminar, held in Charlottesville, VA aims to bring together U.S. policymakers for the purpose of building an understanding of international humanitarian law (IHL) and how it can best be applied to current armed conflicts.  Approximately thirty participants attended the seminar, including legal counsel and policy-making officials from the U.S. Department of State, U.S. Department of Defense, the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate, the Congressional Research Service, Brookings-Bern Project on Internal Displacement, and the American Red Cross.