Jessica Sallabank is a former journalist, now working as a London-based spokesperson and public relations officer for the ICRC (International Committee of the Red Cross) -- a Swiss humanitarian organisation which works primarily to protect civilians in situations of war and armed conflict. Ninety percent of its funding comes from governments, and it has diplomatic immunity. Its staff, for example, cannot be called as witnesses.
In her talk, Sallabank used examples from numerous countries to discuss the origins and current activities of the Red Cross/Crescent, including medical assistance, freeing of hostages, reuniting families after conflicts and prison visiting. The discretion of ICRC staff was a frequent source of frustration to journalists.
Sallabank also outlined the ICRC's unique role as an organisation mandated to promote International Humanitarian Law (IHL) to all parties to conflict. IHL is a set of rules that seek to limit the effects of armed conflict. It protects people who are not or are no longer participating in hostilities and restricts the means and methods of warfare.
This was a joint event with UNA Putney & Roehampton, and we were happy to welcome some of their members. The event was at the Leaf and Bean Café, Duke Street Church, Richmond and took place on 8 April 2017.
Rodney Mantle, UNA Twickenham & Richmond