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

Regional Delegation for the United States and Canada

  
In This Issue:
Sudan: Freed ICRC Worker Gauthier Lefèvre Recounts Weeks in Captivity
Interview with Anne Zeidan-Wenger, Head of ICRC's IDP Project
Promoting Better Protection of Internally Displaced Persons
ICRC Marks World Water Day & World TB Day
ICRC Has Entered the Facebook Era
 
 
The latest ICRC news from around the globe
 
 
 
Nigeria
 
 
 
Togo
  
Yemen  
 
 
 
Our World At War: On the Move Out West
DRC - Ron Haviv, Our World at War
After its successful runs in New York, Washington, Chicago, and Ann Arbor, Our World At War is headed to the West Coast!
 

Beginning April 18, you can see the show at the National Steinbeck Center in Salinas, California. It will be on display through June 2 and is sponsored by the American Red Cross Monterey Bay Area Chapter.

 

From June 26 through August 15, the show will be on display at the Seattle Center in Seattle, Washington, in cooperation with the American Red Cross Serving King and Kitsap Counties.

 

Stay tuned for more dates and locations throughout the spring and summer.

 

New Publication:
Weapon Contamination
Weapon Contamination
Click to download this new brochure, which summarizes the problem of weapon contamination, presents the ICRC's Weapon Contamination Unit, and describes how the ICRC acts to protect civilians from the effects of weapon contamination. Topics include clearance, risk education and risk reduction.
 
 
 
ICRC Film -
Democratic Republic of the Congo: The Lost Children of Goma
ICRC Film: The Lost Children of Goma
In the chaos of conflict, adults and children often get separated and lost. In the eastern region of the Democratic Republic of Congo, which has been ravaged by decades of war, hundreds of children are missing or separated. Shukuru, 17-years old, hasn't seen his parents for 8 months, but with help from the ICRC tracing team, he's found at least part of his family, and he can't wait to see them. Duration 8 min.
 
 
 
ICRC Film -
Afghanistan: War Zone Hospital
ICRC Film: Afghanistan War Zone Hospital
Mirwais Hospital in Kandahar serves over 4 million people across southern Afghanistan. As fighting in the region intensifies, the number of casualties through its doors is also rising sharply. Most of the injured are civilians, caught in roadside explosions, air strikes and gunfire. There are two to a bed in the children's ward and the operating theatre has to work 24 hours a day as doctors and nurses struggle to save lives in this war-torn country. Duration 8 min. 
 
 
 
Geneva: Humanity in War
Humanity in War
For our readers traveling through Geneva, we invite you to visit the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Museum and see a new exhibition, entitled Humanity in War, on display now through July 25.
 
Humanity in War is a photographic record of warfare over the last 150 years. It traces the evolution of the ICRC and aspires to remind all of us of the importance of exercising humanity.
 
 
Upcoming News
World War II. The Central Prisoners of War Agency in Geneva
Check our website for the latest news, as ICRC commemorates the upcoming dates with special features, photos, and more:

April 7: 50 years since the ICRC's Central Agency for Prisoners of War was renamed the Central Tracing Agency 

 
 
 
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
March 2010 
 
Greetings!

The ICRC Regional Delegation for the United States and Canada is overjoyed this month to share the news that our colleague Gauthier Lefèvre is free after nearly 150 days in captivity! Welcome home, Gauthier! Read an excerpt from his first interview below.
 
Next, we interview Anne Zeidan-Wenger, ICRC's internal displacement project leader. She recently visited Washington, DC, and presented the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement policy on internal displacement at the Brookings Institution
 
Keep reading to learn more about what ICRC is doing to commemorate World Water Day (today, March 22) and World Tuberculosis Day (March 24). We also invite you to become a fan of the ICRC on Facebook! It's a fun and easy way to show your support for our activities and to keep abreast of the latest news from around the globe.
 
Lastly, in response to our reader feedback survey, we intend to incorporate some of your ideas, including more international humanitarian law (IHL). As a first step, we encourage you to send in your IHL questions, and in future issues, we will endeavor to provide explanations and additional resources. 
 
Kind regards,
The ICRC Washington Delegation
 
 
Sudan: Freed ICRC Worker Gauthier Lefèvre Recounts Weeks in Captivity
 
Gauthier, the day after regaining his freedom, in Khartoum.
Gauthier Lefèvre, the ICRC head of Al Jeneina sub-delegation was finally freed by his abductors on March 18, 147 days after he was kidnapped, the longest of a series of kidnappings of humanitarian workers in Darfur. He recounts his ordeal:

You were kidnapped only five days before ending your mission in Sudan; how did that feel?

I actually made my peace with that very quickly and stopped thinking about it after a few days. It is something I had to forget about as a protection mechanism. It was my way of avoiding feeling hurt and depressed every day. This helped me to reach some kind of a balance in my life during the abduction and helped me focus on looking ahead.

How is that?

I had to look and focus on the day of my release. I was in a place where I could only see emptiness; skies, plains and hills. I knew that my ICRC colleagues would not forget me. That they were working hard to get me released. I thought about the love of my family and a wonderful woman who were expecting my return and waiting for me to be released.

Still, 147 days is a very long time in a desolate place to be alone.

Gauthier, hours after his release, on the plane to Khartoum.I had a piece of cardboard on which I wrote maxims to help me through. One was that the most important thing for me was to make it through the day until nightfall. I was thinking positively: every day that passed was a day less in my captivity and brought me closer to being released. Also, nights were much better than days. There is more silence, peace and no flies. Days were hot and exhausting, especially mentally. Flies kept buzzing around 12 hours a day and before that I never thought that I could tolerate so many. You feel like a boxer when you go to sleep. But, you are even more exhausted psychologically.
 
To read more of Gauthier's words, please click here.
 
 
Interview with Anne Zeidan-Wenger, Head of ICRC's Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) Project
 
ICRC IDP Advisor Anne Zeidan-WengerSince October 2008, Ms. Zeidan-Wenger has served as Head of the ICRC's lDP project. She was a key facilitator and author of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement's Policy on Internal Displacement, adopted by the Council of Delegates in November 2009.
 
In Washington, DC, for meetings, she answers a few of our questions:

 
 
The ICRC recently worked on two separate documents: the International Red Cross Red Crescent Movement Policy on Internal Displacement and an ICRC Report on Internal Displacement.  Can you tell us why the ICRC has been working on these policies and documents, and why now?

 
In late 2007, the Movement renewed an earlier call to develop a policy on internal displacement during the Council of Delegates meeting. At the same time, the International Federation began a process to develop a Movement policy on migration. The ICRC realized that the two would complement each other. We worked with 20 Red Cross/Red Crescent national societies throughout 2008 and 2009 to complete the work.
 
With respect to the ICRC Report on Internal Displacement in Armed Conflict, it is the outcome of several months of discussing these issues and the ICRC has been keen to express its point of view for some time. It is a document based on field practice and includes several easy-to-read, first-person stories.  
 
What are the key messages in these documents, and how might they possibly impact the lives of millions within displacement-affected communities?
 
Children at an IDP camp fetch water from a distribution point.Displacement affects not only IDPs but also other persons in communities, in particular those who are not allowed to or do not have the means to leave an area or the people who may be hosting displaced persons. The first principle of the Movement policy addresses this: humanitarian action should address the needs of IDPs as well as assessing the environment, which includes all affected populations.
 
The second key element is that displaced populations should not be forced into camps. Other options should be offered. Camps are not very flexible nor are they always easy to manage. The humanitarian community needs to look beyond camps and address needs outside of camp situations. 
 
The third message I will point out is the message of return. We have, today, the impression that the decision about returning to one's home is made by local authorities or international organizations that decide when conditions are suitable. The ICRC and wider Movement believe that the displaced communities themselves are well suited to decide if the time has come to return or to find another living situation.  
 
Now that this policy is in effect, what next? What does the ICRC and the Movement as a whole see as the top priority in working to address displacement?  
Distribution of food and other essential items to around 10,000 peopleFirst of all, we need to apply some of the concepts and principles to new crises and new emergencies, with a special focus on Pakistan. There will be also an effort and consultation within the Movement concerning the earthquake in Haiti. Hopefully, these ideas will help stakeholders better address situations where large movements of population happen and to contribute to better solutions for those who are affected by displacement.  
 
While in Washington, Anne spoke at the Brookings Institution. Read on to the next section for details.
 
Promoting Better Protection of Internally Displaced Persons
Brookings Institution: Brookings-Bern Project on Internal Displacement
 
hosted ICRC's Anne Zeidan-Wenger for a discussion on the launch of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement's Policy on Internal Displacement. Eric Schwartz, Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees and Migration, and Senior Fellow Elizabeth Ferris, co-director of the Brookings-Bern Project on Internal Displacement, provided insightful commentary. Andrew Solomon, deputy director of the Brookings-Bern Project on Internal Displacement, moderated the discussion. 
 
Thank you to all who attended. The full event transcript is available online.

 
ICRC Marks World Water Day & World TB Day
 
Water storage tanks installed by the Spanish & Haitian Red Cross societiesOn the occasion of World Water Day, March 22, the ICRC is highlighting some of its vital work to bring drinking water to the most vulnerable people in the world today. Click here to learn more about what the ICRC is doing to improve access to water in Haiti since the January 12 earthquake. For example, the ICRC has installed water bladders and storage tanks in the city, and has a long-term partnership with the city's water board to promote more efficient and sustainable water distribution. See also a map of the ICRC's water and habitat work around the world in 2009 and an article about how water points are saving lives in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
 

World TB Day: March 24To mark World Tuberculosis (TB) Day on March 24, the ICRC takes a look at what is being done to stop this silent stalker in prisons. Tuberculosis knows no boundaries or barriers. It thrives on poor living conditions and overcrowding. It targets the poor and vulnerable, but anyone can catch it. Considered by many as a disease of the past, in reality, it kills 4,500 people each day and infects around 9.5 million annually. Click to read more about this aspect of the ICRC's work.
 
ICRC Has Entered the Facebook Era 
ICRC on Facebook
 
First YouTube, then Flickr, then Twitter, and now Facebook! This month the ICRC began an official presence on the popular social-networking site. We are already up to 3,000 fans and encourage all of our Washington Delegation newsletter readers to be the next. Just search for "International Committee of the Red Cross" and become a fan today!