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Working in partnership: Rotary International

03-05-2011

The Rotary Club of Switzerland and Liechtenstein has been an ICRC partner since 1996. The objective of the Rotary's Mine-Ex foundation was to raise funds for the ICRC rehabilitation centre in Cambodia. Then they did the same in Myanmar, Ethiopia and in south-western Algeria, providing landmine victims with artificial limbs and rehabilitation services. Since 2009, the Mine-Ex Foundation has also been supporting the ICRC's work with landmine victims in Afghanistan.

The late Dr Hans Stirnemann was a Rotarian and had worked as a surgeon in ICRC hospitals in Pakistan, Cambodia and Sudan from 1992 to 1994. The multitude of human tragedies caused by anti-personnel landmines so moved him that he decided in 1995 to become personally involved in a campaign to put an end to this worldwide scourge, Mine-Ex.

Dr Stirnemann spoke of his experiences to his fellow Club members. His utter conviction and the simple and touching way in which he related his experiences quickly won him a large number of supporters. In order to make a tangible contribution to alleviating the suffering of mine victims, he and his friend Walter Limacher contacted the ICRC. They suggested that the ICRC enter into a partnership with the Rotary Club to raise funds for landmine victims in Cambodia. Specifically, these funds would support the production of components for artificial limbs, physical rehabilitation, and the training of prosthetic/orthotic specialists in the region.

The Mine-Ex project has so far raised over 8.7 million Swiss Francs since 1997 and the figure continues to rise. We wish to thank the Swiss Rotary Club, and in particular Dr Stirnemann and Mr Limacher for spearheading this project. Inspired by the Mine-Ex initiative, a number of Rotary Clubs in Germany have also started to raise funds for landmine victims, particularly in Afghanistan and Georgia. By 2010, donations from these clubs already totalled 500,000 Swiss Francs.

In 1999, the Rotary Foundation launched a worldwide appeal in connection with the Kosovo crisis. This initiative was extremely successful, raising 4.84 million Swiss Francs for the ICRC's humanitarian work.