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 Report - Information Bulletin (ICRC)

 Report date: 17.12.2003

Information Bulletin
November 2003


Visits to detained persons
During the month the delegates of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) visited persons deprived of their freedom in the Bayilov pre-trial isolator, the Colony No4 for Women, the Colony No16 and the Central Penitentiary Hospital under the Ministry of Justice as well as the Isolator of the Ministry of National Security. The visits were conducted in accordance with the ICRC's standard working procedures. These include talks without witnesses with detainees, tour of the premises and discussions with the authorities regarding the findings of the delegates.

New performance for schoolchildren

On 22 November 2003 the State Pantomime Theatre presented the newly staged performance based on "The Little Prince" by A. De Saint Exupery. The ICRC sponsored this performance.
In the centre of this story stays a human being and the importance of having a humane attitude to him/her. Extracts from "The Little Prince" were previously incorporated into the textbook for the 5th form "We Are All Rays of the Same Sun". The book was prepared in cooperation with the Ministry of Education within the Educational programme of the ICRC on teaching of Humanitarian Principles and basics of International Humanitarian Law.
It is planned to show this performance for the schoolchildren in Baku and regions of Azerbaijan starting from December 2003 and throughout 2004.

Health education project continues

The Health Education Project on Tuberculosis prevention in the penitentiary system of Azerbaijan is already ongoing in Bayilov, Shuvelyan and Ganja pre-trail isolators as well as the Colony No1 of the Ministry of Justice. This month the project was expanded to the Colony No2 and the Gobustan prison. In close cooperation with the Ministry of Justice the ICRC has been running this project since early 2002 to increase knowledge of TB regarding early signs and symptoms for detainees, their visitors, medical staff and security personnel.
The international consultant from the Royal Netherlands Tuberculosis Association evaluated the TB programme in prisons during the visit paid to Baku from 25 to 29 November.

Students essay competition

Essay Competition on International Humanitarian Law (IHL) for international law, international relations and law students, launched in May 2003 by the ICRC and International Law Association of Azerbaijan, has entered in its final phase. The students submitted their essays, which have further been reviewed by the Selecting Committee of the Competition, composed of IHL teachers. The awarding ceremony will be held in December 2003.


New international treaty on explosive remnants of war
On 28 November 2003 was adopted a new treaty on explosive remnants of war (ERW) - the first international agreement to require the parties to an armed conflict to clear all unexploded munitions that threaten civilians, peacekeepers and humanitarian workers once the fighting is over.
The treaty was adopted in response to an ICRC initiative launched in September 2000. Concerned about the large numbers of civilian casualties caused by unexploded artillery shells, grenades, cluster-bomb submunitions, mortars and similar ordnance, the ICRC called on the States party to the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW) to draw up new rules in this area. While the ICRC recognized that the international community had made great progress in reducing the deaths, injuries and suffering due to anti-personnel mines, it argued that urgent action was also needed to put an end to the carnage caused by other forms of unexploded and abandoned ordnance, which in some cases inflict as many or more casualties than anti-personnel mines.
The agreement adopted by the 91 States party to the CCW, including all major military powers, will be the fifth protocol additional to this convention. It requires the parties to an armed conflict to:
Clear ERW in areas under their control after a conflict.
Provide technical, material and financial assistance in areas not under their control with a view to facilitating the removal of unexploded or abandoned ordnance left over from their operations. Record information on the explosive ordnance used by their armed forces and share that information with organizations engaged in the clearance of ERW. Warn civilians of the ERW dangers in specific areas.
The treaty, which will enter into force after 20 States have ratified it, will apply primarily to conflicts that break out thereafter. While the ICRC believes that the treaty establishes vital new norms for future conflicts, it will continue to urge governments to give equal priority to clearing existing ERW and to reducing the volume of munitions that fail to explode on impact.

Eritrea / Ethiopia: 77 Eritrean civilians repatriated
On November 77 Eritrean civilians returned from Ethiopia to Eritrea under the auspices of the ICRC. The group crossed the border on a bridge over the Mereb River, between the towns of Rama in Ethiopia and Adi Quala on the Eritrean side. Those repatriated included four minors, who are now back with their families.
ICRC delegates based in Ethiopia accompanied the Eritrean civilians on the first leg of their journey. Eritrea-based ICRC staff met them at the crossing point and they were placed in the care of the Eritrean authorities. Volunteers from the Ethiopian Red Cross Society and the Red Cross Society of Eritrea also took part in the operation, helping to carry luggage and handing out water.

Russian Federation: Helping people in Daghestan
During the second week of November the ICRC delivered medicines and other medical supplies to the Central Hospital in Khasavyurt and technical equipment to the Orthopaedic Centre in Makhachkala, the capital of Daghestan. The republic was the scene of hostilities in 1999 and remains economically vulnerable.
Since 1999 the ICRC has been supplying the surgery and trauma units of Khasavyurt Central Hospital on a regular basis to enhance access to medical services for civilians. The hospital, which has a 995-bed capacity and a full range of services, is one of the largest in Daghestan. ICRC support is a boon to its staff, which carry out over 300 operations a month. "We greatly appreciate the ICRC supplies," said Khazhar Kurbanova, the hospital's head nurse, "especially such needed items as X-ray films, analgesics and muscular relaxants."
The Makhachkala Orthopaedic Centre was given an oven and a vacuum pump needed to produce prostheses. The centre provides services to over 40 patients a month, including disabled people from Daghestan and neighbouring Chechnya, some of whom were victims of mine accidents. Technicians working at the centre have considerable experience making and repairing prostheses and special orthopaedic equipment and shoes.

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