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

Regional Delegation for the United States and Canada

In This Issue:
Sudan/Chad: ICRC Presses for Release of Abducted Staff Members
ICRC Calls for More Action to Help Internally Displaced People Outside Camps
Universal Children's Day: Put a Stop to Crimes Against Children in War
Interview with Hugo van den Eertwegh, ICRC's Deputy Head of Delegation for Somalia
ICRC Uses Flickr: Check Out Our Photostream
Sudan/Chad: ICRC Presses for Release of Abducted Staff Members
The ICRC's head of operations for East Africa, Daniel Duvillard, speaks about how the organization is dealing with these crises.
What is the latest information you have on Gauthier and Laurent?
We have managed to have phone contacts with the abductors of both of our staff. We also managed to speak directly with Gauthier and Laurent. They both say that they are in good health. That is already reassuring under the circumstances.

Who is behind the abductions? Have there been ransom demands?

We don't know exactly who is behind the abductions or what their motives are, and we don't want to speculate. We did receive a ransom demand for Gauthier but, as a matter of policy, the ICRC does not pay out ransom money.
How did the abductions actually happen?
Gauthier, the head of the ICRC office in Al Geneina, West Darfur, was returning with other ICRC colleagues to Al Geneina from a field trip north of the town to help local communities upgrade their water supply systems on October 22. Laurent, an agronomist, was abducted on November 9 around 9 p.m. local time. He was in the area to evaluate the most recent harvest.

Has the ICRC suspended its activities in Sudan and Chad?

We have temporarily suspended activities in West Darfur and in eastern Chad. In fact, we are deeply concerned for the populations affected by the armed conflicts in Chad and in Darfur: they are the ones who will without doubt suffer the consequences of the sudden interruption of the ICRC's activities.
The latest ICRC news from around the globe

Initiatives: Handbook 

Microeconomic Initiatives: Handbook
ICRC microeconomic initiatives are tailored to individual beneficiaries and designed in close consultation with them. This handbook features lessons that have been learned from previous microeconomic initiatives, describes best practices and proposes ways to meet inherent challenges. Since 2001, the ICRC has launched microeconomic initiatives in over a dozen countries worldwide, from the Balkans to Afghanistan to the Democratic Republic of Congo. 

Our World At War: On the Move
DRC - Ron Haviv, Our World at War
This is the last week to see Our World At War in Chicago! In collaboration with the American Red Cross of Greater Chicago and the Loyola University School of Communications, the show is open to the public through November 20. The exhibit is located in the lobby of the School of Communications, 51 East Pearson Street, minutes from the magnificent mile. Hours are 9 am - 7 pm Monday-Friday and 9 am - 5 pm on Saturday. 
In December, the exhibit will travel to the Ann Arbor Art Center in Ann Arbor, MI in partnership with the Washtenaw County Chapter of the American Red Cross.  
In Canada, in collaboration with the Canadian Red Cross, Our World At War  will be on display in Edmonton, November 23 to 27 at the Hotel MacDonald.
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
November 2009

This month the ICRC Regional Delegation for the United States and Canada shares two important initiatives with our newsletter readers. The first concerns the plight of internally displaced persons and the need to help them outside of camp settings. The second, in connection with Universal Children's Day on November 20, is a call for children to be offered better protection in countries at war.
We also take the opportunity to share news from Somalia, through an interview with the ICRC's Deputy Head of Delegation, and to promote the ICRC's photostream available via Flickr.
Finally, we share the troubling news that the ICRC is again confronted with the abduction of our staff members. Gauthier Lefèvre was abducted in West Darfur, Sudan, on October 22, and Laurent Maurice was abducted in eastern Chad on November 9. Our thoughts are with them and their families, and we will continue to bring you news of their situations until they are reunited with their loved ones. 

For the latest news, please consult our website at
Kind regards,
The ICRC Washington Delegation
ICRC Calls for More Action to Help Internally Displaced People Outside Camps    
IDPs in Armed ConflictOn November 12, the ICRC unveiled a special report on internally displaced people (IDPs) that draws attention to the fact that most displaced people do not end up in camps but are taken in by host communities and families.

Launching the report, ICRC President Jakob Kellenberger described internal displacement as one of the most serious humanitarian consequences of armed conflict and other violence worldwide. He said many of the estimated 26 million* IDPs endured extreme hardship, including direct attacks, ill-treatment, sexual violence and the loss of their property or livelihood, and that many displaced were forced to leave their homes because of violations of international humanitarian law committed by conflict parties.

Mariam has never been in an IDP camp and has had little aid."When people think of internally displaced people they automatically think of tents and camps. Yet the report shows that huge camps like Gereida in the Darfur region of Sudan, which hosts around 148,000 people, are but one part of the problem," said Mr. Kellenberger.

"The focus on camps means that what happens to the majority of displaced people -- those who seek refuge with host communities -- is often ignored," added the ICRC president. "In Pakistan, for example, the vast majority of the 2 million people displaced by the fighting this year did not go to camps. The report argues that these people are often the most vulnerable as they rely on the support of host communities that may already be extremely poor. The challenge, therefore, is to help not only the displaced but also the people who take them in."

ICRC & PRC provide aid in an IDP camp in Pakistan's Buner District.Mr. Kellenberger said the ICRC was in favor of setting up camps as a temporary measure to address urgent needs. However, he added that the ICRC's experience had shown that camps often create new problems that compound the vulnerabilities and risks facing displaced people. According to the ICRC president, camps can promote dependency and discourage the displaced from returning to their homes when conditions permit. In addition, tensions may arise between camp residents and people in nearby communities who do not enjoy services like those provided in the camps.

The ICRC considers it important to help displaced people to resume their normal lives and preserve their independence and livelihood. The aim of enabling them to live as nearly as possible as they did prior to displacement is most likely to be achieved in host communities.

* Number of people internally displaced by conflict or violence as of December 2008 according to an Internally Displaced Monitoring Center estimate.
Universal Children's Day: Put a Stop to Crimes Against Children in War
Ten-year-old Alina lives in Khyber Agency in north-west Pakistan.Ahead of Universal Children's Day on November 20, and 20 years after the signing of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the ICRC is urging conflict parties to fully respect existing international humanitarian and human rights law in order to enhance protection for the estimated 1 billion children affected by armed conflict worldwide.
"The effect of war on children is devastating. Girls and boys, and even babies, are killed, maimed for life, imprisoned, or raped. Exploitation and abuse remain a sad reality for millions of children who suffer the consequences of armed conflict," said Kristin Barstad, the ICRC's adviser on children and war. "There is no valid excuse or justification for this. Universal Children's Day is an appropriate time to reiterate that children have a right to be protected and are entitled to education, food, water and health care, even in times of war. Those who violate the rights of children must be held accountable."
The effect of war on children is devastating.Children can also find themselves taking part in armed conflict as child soldiers. Their numbers are estimated to be in the tens of thousands around the world. Some join armed groups voluntarily, some are forcibly recruited or abducted. In Nepal, Akaash remembers joining an armed group at age 10, "because they offered me money, a weapon and an opportunity to prove that I was something." Children can be extremely precious to armed groups: they seem more obedient and easier to manipulate than adults, and are often less aware of danger to themselves. In some cases, children are forced to commit atrocities against their own family or community, to ensure blind obedience and cut them from their roots. But the fact that they may become perpetrators of crimes should not cause anyone to forget that they are, first and foremost, victims.
The Democratic Republic of the Congo is just one of the war-ravaged countries where countless children have been victims of sexual violence. Marie was kidnapped by an armed group when she was 10 years old, and exploited as a sex slave. Today she is 22 and has three children of her own. Although her community rejected her following her ordeal, she has been able to start a new life thanks to psychological support offered by the ICRC. According to the ICRC counselor, "Marie is unbelievably resilient. She has turned the page. She will never forget the abuse she suffered but she has accepted it."
Children in War: An ICRC Publication"Under international humanitarian and human rights law children are protected against any form of abuse, such as murder, torture, other forms of ill-treatment, sexual violence, arbitrary detention, unlawful recruitment, hostage-taking and forced displacement," explained Ms. Barstad. "Twenty years ago, on November 20, 1989, the Convention on the Rights of the Child was signed. Unfortunately the Convention and all the other relevant treaties such as the Geneva Conventions have made little difference for many children in war zones. It is time for conflict parties to start living up to their obligations."
The ICRC is addressing the specific needs of children in war-torn countries by providing food, water and shelter, by supporting hospitals and basic health-care services, including vaccination campaigns, by paying special attention to children in places of detention, and by reuniting families. In 2008, the ICRC reunited more than 800 children separated from their families by conflict, including 112 demobilized child soldiers, with their parents or other family members, and visited 1,500 children individually in places of detention.
Download the ICRC's new brochure on children and war.

Interview with Hugo van den Eertwegh, ICRC's Deputy Head of Delegation for Somalia
Hugo van den Eertwegh, ICRC Deputy Head in SomaliaHugo van den Eertwegh is the ICRC's Deputy Head of Delegation for Somalia based in Nairobi. He assists the Head of Delegation in overseeing all activities, manages the daily operations and security in the field, and maintains relationships with international and nongovernmental organizations, military attachés and other government officials. During his recent visit to Washington, DC, he answered a few questions for our readers.
We have been hearing about drought in the Horn of Africa for some time and now the ICRC is reporting on flooding in Somalia. Is this situation contradictory?
Unfortunately, it is not. Somalia has a very dry north which is heavily drought affected; some years the conditions are worse than in others. At the same time, Somalia has two big rivers running through its territory. When heavy rains fall, especially in Ethiopia, those areas are very prone to flooding, so it is possible to have both phenomena occur at the same time. In addition, when rain falls, it is not equally distributed over the whole area.
To what extent are those affected by the climatic issues the same people affected by the conflict?
The two groups are one and the same. After 20 years, the conflict touches all Somalis. People have moved out of various regions into others. The areas currently suffering from drought and flooding are same areas where victims of the conflict are present. 
Bakool region. The ICRC delivering water to civilians.Do you have sufficient access given the security situation and what are the ICRC's priority activities presently?
Access is always complicated, especially for international staff. With our local staff and through the Somali Red Crescent Society, however, we still have a good base to operate on the ground. Our priority is still to provide life-saving assistance, namely water, health, small food distributions, and other assistance to internally displaced persons.
Speaking of the Somali Red Crescent Society, how does the ICRC collaborate with this organization?
We work with the Somali Red Crescent Society at various levels, most importantly in the health sector. Their staff run 34 health clinics in south and central Somalia, which the ICRC supports. The Somali Red Crescent Society also has a very important hospital in Mogadishu, which the ICRC assists by providing medicines, salary support, and general rehabilitation. In addition, their volunteers take part in ICRC distributions wherever we execute them in the field.  
ICRC Uses Flickr: Check Out Our Photostream
ICRC's Flickr PhotostreamInterested in seeing the latest ICRC photos from the field? We are increasingly posting them on the photo-sharing site Flickr. All copyrights belong to the ICRC. If you wish to reuse any of the photos online or in a publication, you must contact the ICRC photo library for approval. High resolution images can also be requested.