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 Report date: 30.11.1998


In the second week of December, eighteen students from the International Relations Faculty of Baku State University (BSU) came to the delegation to follow a practical course on the activities of the ICRC. Its aim was to present them with a concrete picture of a particular aspect of international relations, an aspect which is often taught in a very abstract way in the lecture theatres of some faculties of human sciences. The important thing is to unite theory and practice in order to give the students a more precise idea of the activities of the ICRC in the field and to perceive the importance of International humanitarian Law (IHL) for the protection of people when war breaks out in countries" underlined Philippe Golay, in charge of dissemination of IHL in Azerbaijan.

The students listened to those in charge of various projects: the operational activities developed by the ICRC in the front line districts since 1992, the tracing of people missing in connection with the conflict, the detention issue, the anti-tuberculosis project, the mine awareness program, the orthopedic center and the cooperation with the Azeri Red Crescent Society were presented. A particular emphasis was also put on IHL and the rules to be respected in time of conflict. A dozen videos were shown to the participants in order to illustrate the reality of the activities of the ICRC in the world.

The participants were motivated and full of youthful enthusiasm, and asked the contributors many questions. The issue of tracing, detention and the liberation of detainees was one subject in which they showed a great interest. The representatives of the Azeri Red Crescent were also very successful and aroused a desire to participate in the society's activities, particularly amongst the female contingent: "How can we give our support to the activities of the Red Crescent?" asked one student. "Wouldn't it be possible to start a new course on the Azeri Red Crescent Society at the university?" asked another one. "Academic circles constitute the most open audience regarding International Humanitarian Law, concludes Philippe Golay. "Their access to the outside world and to knowledge, out of reach to them until recently, can provide precious support for the dissemination of IHL".

Support for traumatized children

We have emerged from the most acute emergency phase and now are trying to help communities in Kosovo to cope with some of the direct effects of the tragic events that occurred last summer", explained ICRC delegate John Roche, who is in charge of co-ordinating relief activities in the area. "At present, several of our programs now provide support for existing medical and paramedical facilities so that services can continue functioning as smoothly as possible."

In the town of Pristina, the reception center for people seriously traumatized by the violence is caring for some 30 children aged between five and twelve. The two Kosovar psychologists working there are treating their young patients through role-playing and dialogue and above all are listening to what they have to say. The ICRC has supplied the center with food, clothes, toys, crayons and drawing paper. It subsequently plans to install additional showers and washing machines, and will deliver wood for heating. The center must be able to operate under the best possible conditions if the youngsters are to recover their equilibrium.


The ICRC has visited almost 8,000 detainees in Afghanistan since the beginning of the year. The latest series of visits are currently being completed in Panshir, Kabul, Mazar-i-Sharif, Kandahar, Shibirghan and Herat.

To mark the month of Ramadan, 118 people held at the Pul-i-Charki prison in Kabul were freed on 5 December. After their release they went to the ICRC delegation in the city to talk to the staff.

The ICRC normally gives released detainees financial assistance to enable them to return to their homes, but such aid was not necessary in this case because each detainee received a travel allowance of 100,000 Afghans (3 US dollars) from the Taliban. Most of the people concerned are elderly men from the provinces north of the capital.

Other prisoners are expected to be released throughout Afghanistan during the coming weeks, as is customary during Ramadan.

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