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

Regional Delegation for the United States and Canada

In This Issue:
Interview with ICRC Director General, Yves Daccord
The ICRC in Libya
The ICRC in Côte d'Ivoire
ICRC News from
Around the Globe



Florence Nightingale Medal 2011 39 Exceptional Nurses and Nursing Aides Honored

Florence Nightingale Medal

Every year, the ICRC instituted Florence Nightingale Medal recognizes exceptional courage and devotion to victims of armed conflict or natural disaster. It also recognizes exemplary service or a pioneering spirit in areas of public health or nursing education.


This year, thirty-nine outstanding nurses from 19 countries have been awarded the Florence Nightingale Medal. The ICRC Washington congratulates all winners, including the four recipients from our region: Mr. John Mark Burton; Ms. Janice Lufkin; Dr. Cheryl Klouzal Schmidt; and Ms. Debra Williams.

New ICRC Film
Sudan: Protecting tribal wealth
Sudan: Protecting tribal wealth

Life without cattle for people in the south of Sudan is impossible to imagine. Cattle is currency and for the Murle, a pastoral tribe; they are their only source of livelihood.


But this livelihood is increasingly threatened from drought, disease and conflicts over migratory routes and grazing land.


The ICRC is working with government and local partners to vaccinate 100,000 cattle belonging to the Murle in PiborCounty, Jonglei state.

New ICRC Film  
Fighting the hunger season in Liberia
Fighting the hunger season in Liberia

As tensions remain high in Cote d'Ivoire, the estimated 150,000 refugees who fled to north-eastern Liberia show no signs of going back. Poor communities are hosting tens of thousands of refugees and are running out of food and seeds.


The ICRC, along with the Liberian Red Cross and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies are providing tools, seeds and food rations to 3,000 host families to avert a food crisis in the period between June and September, known as the hunger season.   

New ICRC Film
Weapon contamination
Weapon contamination

Long after the last shot in a conflict is fired, unexploded and abandoned weapons continue to kill and maim. In the last decade alone, they took more than 17,000 lives and injured over 70,000. People can't work their land when explosive remnants of war threaten life and limb. Entire communities become paralyzed by well justified fear.


This film explores how the ICRC tackles weapon contamination, drawing on its water, food, shelter and health expertise. Since 2008, the ICRC has also deployed specialist clearance teams to rid communities of weapon contamination, once and for all.


The Invaluable Service of Volunteers to Addressing Today's Humanitarian Crises - A Commemoration in Photos


Haiti, Pakistan, Libya, Syria, Egypt, Japan - as the world watched each of these humanitarian crises evolve, volunteers from the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement were among the first to respond. From rescuing the sick and wounded to providing first aid, water and food to those in need, Red Cross and Red Crescent volunteers have been putting community first for more than 150 years.  

In celebration of this year's

World Red Cross Red Crescent Day on 8 May 2011, the ICRC took the opportunity to promote and recognize the role volunteers have played in enabling our Movement to become the largest humanitarian network in the world and help thousands of people suffering from past and present occurrences of violence.


A selection of photos commemorating our volunteers at work can be found on the ICRC's flickr photostream here. 

Upcoming Events


4th Annual National Security Law Junior Faculty Workshop/IHL Training

May 19-20

Held at the Army JAG School, University of Virginia, Charlottesville


Young Reporters in Action!

May 5 - June 6

An exhbition the photographs, accounts and interviews from eight young reporters, whom the ICRC selected to travelled to Georgia, Lebanon, Liberia, Pakistan, the Philippines and Senegal to interview young people affected by armed conflict in their countries. On show at ICRC Headquarters in Geneva.


Senior Workshop on International Rules Governing Military Operations 

June 26 - July 2

Concentrates on three central legal themes: deprivation of liberty in military operations; the conduct of hostilities in armed conflict; and law enforcement operations. Held in Saldanha, South Africa.


29th Course on International Humanitarian Law

June 27 - July 7

Organized by the ICRC and the Polish Red Cross. Held in Warsaw, Poland.


Health Emergencies in Large Populations (H.E.L.P) Courses

A multicultural and multidisciplinary learning experience created to enhance professionalism in humanitarian assistance programmes conducted in emergency situations.

June 13-24


July 11-29


July 11-22


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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
May 2011 



This month we focus on the crises in Libya and Côte d'Ivoire. First, we bring you an interview with the Director General of the ICRC, Yves Daccord, who recently visited Washington, D.C. Mr. Daccord discusses his mission to the U.S., the ICRC's approach in Libya and Côte d'Ivoire, and the organization's priorities in the years to come.


The remainder of this edition focuses on the ICRC's reading of the humanitarian situations in Libya and Côte d'Ivoire and its response to these crises.


We also want to bring your attention to two sidebars on the left. In one we honor the recipients of the Florence Nightingale Medal. The ICRC warmly congratulates the tremendous work of these individuals. Additionally, in 'ICRC News from Around the Globe,' we highlight our concern about the ongoing situation in Syria.


Next month, we are excited to focus on International Humanitarian Law (IHL). We look forward to sharing information on the ICRC's study on Strengthening Legal Protection for Victims of Armed Conflict as well as interviews with two key outgoing staff from the Washington delegation: Legal Advisor Jamie Williamson and Programme Officer Paul Kong.

As always, please write us with your thoughts and feedback.


Kind regards,
The ICRC Washington Delegation


Yves DaccordYves Daccord became ICRC's Director-General on July 1, 2010. Mr. Daccord started his career in the ICRC in 1992, first serving in the field, including as Head of Delegation in Yemen and Head of Mission in the Northern Caucuses. In 2002, he became ICRC's Director of Communications, a post he held until his appointment as Director-General last year.

Mr. Daccord recently sat down to answer a few questions following his first mission to the
United States since becoming Director-General.


Why is it important for the Director-General of the ICRC to visit the United States?


The United States remains the sole superpower in the world today. Its views and actions on humanitarian issues, from international humanitarian law to detention to funding, have global implications.


 It is important to share the ICRC's views on these issues with the US Government, and also to understand first hand the US perspective. I was pleased to be able to do that with meetings at the State Department and National Security Council.


Also of critical importance, I was able to meet with the senior leadership of the American and Canadian Red Cross. While independent from the ICRC, we are part of the same global Red Cross/Red Crescent Movement, and it is necessary to invest in strong relationships with these two large and influential national societies.


What was the main purpose of your visit?


One year into my mandate, I wanted to explain the direction we are setting for the ICRC for the coming four years. We want the ICRC to focus on its core competence: protecting and assisting victims of armed conflict. We intend that the ICRC will still carry out the great majority of work independently and on the ground, not being coordinated by governments or the UN, nor outsourcing its operations to local actors. While clearly we need to coordinate with others, and work with Movement partners on the ground, we also need to be physically carrying out our style of neutral, independent, and impartial humanitarian action.


[ED note: See ICRC Director of Operations, Pierre Krähenbühl's Op-Ed piece entitled "The Militarization of Aid is Perilous" for more on this subject.]


From this core strength, we need to improve in four areas: operating in complex, violent, urban areas, such as Rio de Janeiro and northern Mexico; develop a broader and faster medical response; make the ICRC more relevant and influential in humanitarian debates, and improve our management of people.


You mentioned funding above. Was this in reference to US foreign aid, or to funding of the ICRC?


Both. The US is the largest donor of humanitarian assistance globally, and where and how it spends its attention and money has an impact on the humanitarian community. In addition, the US is the largest single donor to the ICRC, and this funding relationship is valued and important, especially at a time of increased funding unpredictability. 


[ED note: for more on the subject of ICRC funding, please see Mr. Daccord's web interview "Addressing ICRC's Financial Challenges" or, for more general information, the Finances section of our website.]


What were the questions about the ICRC during your stay in Washington?


Beyond wanting to better understand ICRC's future direction, there was intense interest in our operations in Libya and Côte d'Ivoire. These obviously are two very different contexts; Libya a classic study in sudden onset conflict, whereas Côte d'Ivoire typically is a slow onset violent situation that everyone could see coming. We are proud to have robust, meaningful operations on the ground in both countries, but also humbled by the scale of the humanitarian needs we witness.


You recently had an op-ed published on the need to protect civilians in Libya and Côte d'Ivoire. In this piece, you were very critical about the politicization and militarization of humanitarian aid. Could you elaborate on this idea?


As I wrote, the main cause of the massive suffering we see today is the blatant lack of respect for fundamental, universal norms in international humanitarian law by states and non-state actors. However, I believe that another key factor connected to the suffering is the politicization and militarization of humanitarian aid. This includes the exploitation of aid by states as a tool for conflict management and as an instrument to promote their own interests. A particularly thorny issue is when a UN integrated mission simultaneously plays military and humanitarian roles, and effectively becomes a party to the conflict, as was the case in the Côte d'Ivoire. Such blurring of roles ultimately complicates or hinders impartial humanitarian access to people on both sides of a conflict, not just for UN agencies and their implementing partners, but for others too. Aid must be allocated strictly based on humanitarian needs, not on political, military or economic objectives.

As humanitarians, both as a community and as individual organizations, we cannot exempt ourselves from scrutiny. We must have an honest self-appraisal of capacities and limitations, and a genuine commitment to match fine words and good intentions with reality on the ground.

The ICRC in Libya: An Update  


Violent unrest has been taking place in Libya since late February 2011, deteriorating into a full-fledged armed conflict in March. The ICRC responded immediately by sending medical teams and surgical supplies to affected Libyan cities in the east of the country, rapidly becoming operational in a context it hadn't previously deployed in. However, with only a few other humanitarian actors present, the ICRC quickly diversified its efforts to address the significant humanitarian needs on the ground.


The most pressing humanitarian needs in  Libya are: safe access to health care; shortage of water; displacement; and weapon contamination. 


Safe Access to Health Care


ICRC nurse checks on Libyan victims.Safe access to health care remains a challenge for many Libyans. Fighting in Misrata and other cities is preventing civilians from accessing medical care and causing casualties among health personnel. The Libyan Red Crescent reports that in the past seven days, three of its ambulances have been hit in three separate incidents. These attacks resulted in the death of a nurse and injuries to a patient and three volunteers.  


The  ICRC is concerned about allegation of the Red Cross/Red Crescent emblem being used to support military operations. The organization  publicly called on all parties involved to respect these protected emblems at all times.


The ICRC has assisted the Libyan health response with medical staff and medical supplies from the onset of the conflict. ICRC specialists have also run a variety of health workshops in affected areas.


Shortage of Water


Lack of clean water and appalling hygiene conditions are a major issue in Libya today. As a result, the ICRC has built showers, set up clothes-washing areas and delivered plastic latrines in the eastern part of the country. In Coucha, it has installed a 70 cubic-meter water tank.   




Hostilities have forced thousands of people to flee their homes. They are currently living either with host families or in camps. Ongoing violence results in more Libyans displaced everyday. Over the past two weeks, working together with  Libyan Red Crescent volunteers, the ICRC has distributed food parcels, baby food, hygiene kits, kitchen sets and blankets to about 30,000 internally displaced people and affected communities along the coast, in the eastern part of the country. 




The ICRC has been visiting detainees held by the Libyan armed opposition in Benghazi since early March. The purpose of its visits in places of detention is to check on the conditions and treatment of detainees. Restoring contact between the detainees and their families, as well as between members of families separated by the conflict, is also a priority for the organization.


Weapon Contamination 


Unexploded Weapon in Libya.Libyan civilians are exposed to the dangers of unexploded or abandoned explosive devices in Ajdabiya, Misrata and Benghazi, where intense fighting has taken place. "On May 3, we started clearing dangerous devices in parts of Ajdabiya," said Herby Elmazi, the ICRC delegate in charge of the clearance operation. "This is the beginning of a sustained effort to reduce the weapon contamination hazard for the civilian population. The effort will hopefully be extended to conflict-torn Misrata in the near future," explained Mr. Elmazi. "The ICRC is the only organization with a fully operational team currently able to clear these kinds of devices in Libya." 


In addition, the  ICRC, working closely with the  Libyan Red Crescent, has launched an awareness campaign on the risks posed by unexploded ordnance.

The ICRC in Côte D'Ivoire: An Update 

Violent street protests and clashes that wounded hundreds of people broke out in Côte d'Ivoire in response to the country's disputed November 28 presidential election. The violence triggered a crisis that has affected the population throughout the country. The ICRC had been present in Côte d'Ivoire since 1992 and, together with a number of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, it has developed a significant humanitarian response. Today, the security situation in the country remains unsettled and a massive need for assistance prevails. The ICRC is currently focusing on safe access to medical care, access to clean water, detention and the needs of those displaced by the violence.


Today, the ICRC and the Red Cross Societies of Côte d'Ivoire and Liberia are among the few humanitarian agencies working in the field. As ICRC Director-General Yves Daccord mentions in his interview, responding to the needs in Côte d'Ivoire has been particularly challenging in a context where most humanitarian agencies have been unable to operate due to security concerns. 


Safe Access to Medical Care


As in Libya, one of the ICRC's priorities has been to help ensure safe access to medical care for the victims of the violence. Local Red Cross ambulance teams were immediately on hand, responding to calls for assistance and transporting patients, often in difficult conditions. Continued fighting seriously disrupted access to medical care for tens of thousands of civilians. "Many hospitals and health-care centers that were looted and abandoned are now in urgent need of medicines, dressing materials and other medical items," according to Popol Lobo Biduaya, who coordinates the ICRC's medical activities in the country. In response, the ICRC has supplied medical facilities with medicines and personnel. It has also begun to operate mobile clinics, delivering services to areas with little or no access to medical care.




Ivorian Refugee in Refugee Camp.

Tens of thousands of people have fled their homes as  violence errupted.Most found refuge in the west of the country or in neighboring Liberia. Today, many are staying in schools, churches, mosques and other public buildings that serve as makeshift camps. Families displaced lack everything - food, emergency supplies, medicines, shelter, clean drinking water.  


On March 31, the ICRC appealed for an additional 16.2 million US dollars for its Côte d'Ivoire operation. At the same time, it launched a 5.9 million dollar appeal to respond to the needs of Ivorian refugees and their host communities in Liberia. These additional funds, combined with existing resources, have allowed the organization to also assist over 3,700 displaced persons in four reception centers in Abidjan. As access to food was severely disrupted by the violence, the ICRC provided compressed food products, focusing on children and adults suffering from nutritional deficiency. In view of recent security improvements, the ICRC and the Ivorian Red Cross have begun to distribute essential supplies to some 7,000 displaced people in five reception centers in the western city of Guiglo, which had not previously been accessible.


It is increasingly difficult for many host communities in Liberia to provide food to refugees. As the rainy season approaches, the ICRC is replenishing food and seed stocks through an agricultural program carried out jointly with Movement partners. Food, seeds, and tools will be provided to 3,000 host families along the border.


Access to Drinking Water


"Supplying the population with potable water remains a major challenge," said Ione Ramel, ICRC deputy head of operations for North and West Africa. "The major crisis that swept the country has severely restricted the local production of drinking water. This poses serious risks for millions of Ivorians." To address this need, the ICRC has installed water tanks to serve nearly 10,000 displaced people in the town of Duékoué, in western Côte d'Ivoire. It is also providing clean water to over 10,000 refugees and their host families in the town of Buutuo, across the Liberian border. In addition, ICRC water and sanitation engineers have built latrines and showers, and repaired or dug wells serving over 70,000 people in Côte d'Ivoire and Liberia. The organization has further delivered 4,000 tonnes of lime to purify ground water in Abadijan, which otherwise is not safe to drink.


ICRC visit at Ivorian Detention Facility.Detention


Large numbers of people have been arrested in connection with the armed conflict. ICRC delegates are monitoring the conditions and treatment of detainees in Bouaké and in Abidjan. ICRC delegates are also visiting detainees in neighboring Liberia.