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

Regional Delegation for the United States and Canada

In This Issue:
Philippines: ICRC Confirms that Eugenio Vagni is Free
ICRC Celebrates 150 Years of Red Cross
Interview with Jürg Montani: Deputy Head, Multilateral Diplomacy & Humanitarian Coordination
Democratic Republic of the Congo: Mounting Concern as Civilians' Plight Worsens
27th Edition of the International Humanitarian Law Course in Warsaw, Poland
Philippines: ICRC Confirms that Eugenio Vagni is Free
Eugenio Vagni, the last of three International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) staff members abducted in the southern Philippines on January 15, is free. Fellow abductees Mary Jean Lacaba and Andreas Notter regained their freedom on April 2 and April 18 respectively.

Mr. Vagni regained his freedom in the early hours of July 12 Manila time. He is tired after 179 days in captivity, but given the circumstances is doing remarkably well.

"The ICRC is relieved and happy that Mr. Vagni has been reunited with his family, who have been living a painful nightmare for almost six months," said Jean-Daniel Tauxe, the head of the ICRC's delegation in the Philippines.

"We would like to express our profound gratitude to all those who have worked so hard in recent months to secure the release of Mary Jean, Andreas and Eugenio," he added. "In particular, we would like to thank the Governor of Sulu, Abdusakur Tan, the Vice Governor of Sulu, Nur-Ana I. Sahidulla, and the Task Force Comet Commander, Major General Juancho Sabban. The tremendous efforts of national and local authorities, the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police have contributed greatly to the resolution of this long crisis."

The ICRC remains concerned about other hostages still being held captive in the southern Philippines.

The ICRC has been working in the Philippines since 1982. It provides protection and assistance for those most in need, particularly internally displaced people (IDPs) in Mindanao. In addition, it visits detainees to assess their conditions of detention.

The latest ICRC news from around the globe
Our World. Views from the Field. The Impact of Conflicts and Armed Violence on Civilians
Summary Report 
As part of the Our world. Your move. campaign the ICRC has carried out different quantitative (statistical) and qualitative (personal interviews and focus groups) research initiatives designed to give a voice to the world's most vulnerable people and raise awareness of the plight of civilians living in situations of armed conflict and violence.
The ICRC commissioned Ipsos to conduct quantitative (statistical) research surveys to measure the impact of armed conflict on the civilian population in eight of the most troubled places in the world - the Solferinos of today - which are either experiencing armed conflict or suffering its aftermath. The countries chosen were: Afghanistan, Colombia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Georgia, Haiti, Lebanon, Liberia and the Philippines.
In each country, a broadly representative sample of the adult general public was interviewed, either in person or by telephone.  The questions covered people's personal experience of armed conflict and violence, the specific impact that it has on them, views on the acceptable conduct of combatants, the effectiveness and desired actions of related organizations and third parties, awareness of the Geneva Conventions, and the role of health workers during armed conflict.
The results give a powerful insight into the experiences and opinions of civilians coping with some of the most harrowing situations in the world. 
Our World At War: On the Move
DRC - Ron Haviv, Our World at War
Our World at War: Photojournalism Beyond the Front Lines is on display through September 7, 2009 at the Newseum in Washington, DC.
In collaboration with the American Red Cross of Greater Chicago, the exhibit will travel to downtown Chicago where it will be showcased at Loyola University, from September 24 through November 20, 2009.
The exhibit will then travel to Ann Arbor, MI in partnership with the Ann Arbor Art Center and the Washtenaw County Chapter of the American Red Cross from December 1 through 22. Stay tuned to this space for more dates and locations.
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
July 2009

This month the ICRC rejoices for our colleague Eugenio Vagni who is free after his long stay in captivity in the Philippines. Thank you for all your expressions of support during the past six months. We wish Eugenio and his family a joyful reunion.
In this month's newsletter, we also bring you a look at our 150th anniversary party held at the Newseum in Washington, DC. The event was a great success, and we greatly enjoyed sharing the occasion with our "family" from the American Red Cross. 
In addition, Jürg Montani from the ICRC's Mulilateral Diplomacy and Humanitarian Coordination unit in Geneva shares some thoughts on the debates around humanitarian action today. We also bring you an update from the field from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Lastly, a staff member from the ICRC Washington delegation attended the 27th annual edition of the renowned international humanitarian law course organized by the ICRC and the Polish Red Cross in Warsaw. 
As always, for the latest news, please consult our website at
Kind regards,
The ICRC Washington Delegation
ICRC Celebrates 150 Years of Red Cross
On June 24, 1859, the day-long Battle of Solferino took place in northern Italy, leaving more than 6,000 dead and 40,000 wounded. Henry Dunant, a Swiss businessman traveling through the area, was overcome with a sense of urgency to organize relief. Helped by local village women, he organized care for the wounded and dying for three days and nights. This experience served as inspiration for his memoir and later the founding of the Red Cross, the world's largest humanitarian network.  
 Our World at War - Newseum
One hundred fifty years later, on June 24, 2009, together with thousands of Red Cross staff and volunteers around the world, the ICRC Regional Delegation for the United States and Canada celebrated the sesquicentennial of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement. 
Approximately 200 representatives from the ICRC, American Red Cross, U.S. government, academia, other humanitarian organizations, and media outlets attended a reception to highlight the important contributions the Red Cross has made throughout its history. The evening's festivities took place at the Newseum in Washington, DC, where guests also viewed Our World At War: Photojournalism Beyond the Front Lines, now on display through September 7, 2009. The ICRC also thanks the Newseum for its collaboration on the exhibit.   
Bonnie McElveen-Hunter, Chairman of the Board of the American Red CrossBonnie McElveen-Hunter, Chairman of the Board of the American Red Cross, delivered the evening's keynote remarks. She noted the example of what one person can do, as in the case of Henry Dunant, as well as the remarkable growth the Red Cross has experienced with nearly 1 million volunteers in the United States and 97 million around the world today.
Additional remarks were given by Christopher Morris, of the VII Photo agency, one of the five photographers whose work was on display that evening, as well as Geoff Loane, Head of the ICRC Regional Delegation in Washington, DC. CBS News Correspondent, Kimberly Dozier served expertly as the program's moderator.
(L-R) Bonnie McElveen-Hunter, Chris Morris, Kimberly Dozier, Geoff Loane
From Left to Right: Bonnie McElveen-Hunter, Christopher Morris, Kimberly Dozier, and Geoff Loane. Christopher is holding the new ICRC photography book Humanity in War.

Interview with Jürg Montani, Deputy Head of ICRC's Multilateral Diplomacy and Humanitarian Coordination Unit 

Jürg MontaniJürg Montani, Deputy Head of ICRC's Multilateral Diplomacy and Humanitarian Coordination Unit in Geneva since October 2008, recently traveled to the United States to attend the InterAction Forum 2009.
Here he takes time to answer a few questions for our newsletter:
Why is humanitarian coordination important?
Humanitarian coordination is critical to ensuring that the most efficient and effective assistance is delivered to people who suffer from conflict. This is something the ICRC strives to do. As the ICRC can not cover all the needs by itself, it is essential for us to know what others are doing and to coordinate our work with them.
What are the priorities for the ICRC when engaging in multilateral diplomacy?
The ICRC engages in multilateral diplomacy for two main reasons: to understand general political trends and trends in the humanitarian community and to influence both the humanitarian discourse and the decisions that affect the humanitarian environment.
If I am to pick a few topics we are concentrating on currently, the humanitarian space discussion is probably at the top of the list. The ICRC has concerns about a pattern that some of the population affected by today's conflicts cannot access or receive humanitarian assistance and protection. Integrated missions or whole-of-government approaches, as well as the decisions taken by some humanitarian actors, could lead to loss of independence and neutrality of humanitarian action. Within this discussion, the ICRC reaffirms the necessity and importance of strictly humanitarian action.
Linked to this is the discussion of the reform of the UN humanitarian sector, which has redefined coordination structures, wants to strengthen humanitarian coordination, and introduces new mechanisms for humanitarian financing. In addition, we follow the discussions related to increasing demands on all humanitarian organizations for accountability to beneficiaries and donors. And of course we follow the developments related to the financial crisis, the food crisis, climate change, and other emerging issues, examining the effects they have on populations that are already vulnerable.
You've just spent four days at the InterAction Forum 2009. Why is it important for the ICRC to be present at this type of event?
There are two main objectives of my visit to the InterAction Forum. The ICRC wants to understand all aspects of the discussions and debates around the humanitarian sector. Quite clearly the American perspective is very important and InterAction serves as a key convener of humanitarian agencies. Engagement of this sort allows the ICRC to identify trends and make strategic decisions for the future of its own humanitarian policy and action. It is also a great event for meeting people and for influencing debates by bringing some of ICRC's concerns and experience, complementing the efforts of the American Red Cross and the ICRC delegation in Washington.
Democratic Republic of the Congo: Mounting Concern as Civilians' Plight Worsens

Since May, there has been a deterioration in security conditions and the humanitarian situation of thousands of civilians in the provinces of North and South Kivu, in the east of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Numerous crimes against civilians, including rapes, murders, and the looting and destruction of homes, which are forcing tens of thousands of people to flee, continue to be reported. In the territories of Lubero (southern part), Walikale, Rutshuru and Masisi, the situation remains worrying. It is estimated that in North Kivu, since the beginning of the year, over 300,000 people have been displaced by the consequences of the armed conflict and by the violence they have been subjected to on the part of weapon bearers.

According to a recent independent survey carried out for the ICRC in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, 76% of the population has been affected in some way by the armed conflict, 58% have been displaced, 47% have lost a close relative and 28% know someone who has fallen victim to sexual violence.
Buhimba, west of Goma. A woman with an orphaned child.While the effects of the armed conflict have been less felt in South Kivu than in North Kivu, security problems have also increased in the South, where more than 100,000 people, feeling increasingly threatened and fearing they might find themselves trapped by the advancing conflict, have reportedly fled their homes over the past three months in search of shelter and protection. The territories of Shabunda, Kalehe, Mwenga and Walungu have been the hardest hit by the deterioration in security conditions, which has had an especially severe effect on civilians.

In this setting where protection for civilians is completely lacking, and where they are being directly targeted with increasing frequency, the ICRC is engaged in confidential dialogue with the parties to the conflict to ensure access to the people concerned. In addition, in collaboration with the Red Cross Society of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the ICRC is providing displaced people and area residents with food aid and emergency medical help through existing health-care centres, improving people's access to drinking water, and tracing relatives from whom people have been separated because of the conflict.

To read more about ICRC activites in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, click here.
27th Edition of the International Humanitarian Law Course in Warsaw, Poland
IHL Course, Warsaw, PolandFrom June 29 to July 9, the ICRC and the Polish Red Cross co-hosted the 27th edition of the International Humanitarian Law (IHL) Course in Warsaw, Poland.  The 10-day course brought together nearly 40 professionals and students from North America, Europe, Israel, and the Caucuses, including one person from the ICRC Washington delegation. The course provided a thorough overview and in-depth coverage of issues pertaining to IHL. Lecturers included Judge Theodor Meron of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, ICRC's Stephane Ojeda, Cyril Laucci and Alexandra Boivin, German Red Cross' Heike Spieker, Polish Red Cross' Elzbieta Mikos-Skuza, and Paul Berman of the United Kingdom's Foreign and Commonwealth Office, an alumnus of the program.