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"Children in war" kicks off in Cairo

23-01-2003 News Release 03/06

Geneva (ICRC) – Under the patronage of Suzanne Mubarak, President of the Egyptian Red Crescent (ERC), the Meridian Cup 2003 kicks off in Cairo on 24 January with a major goal: promoting the rights of children caught in war-torn areas.

Under a partnership agreement between the European Football Association (UEFA) and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), eight junior teams from Africa and Europe will be competing for the Meridian Cup, hosted by the Egyptian Football Association. At the same time, they will be promoting a joint ICRC/UEFA message: Protect children in war. Child victims of conflict have specific rights, such as the right to be reunited with their families, the right to medical treatment and the right not to be enlisted into the armed forces before the age of 15.

The Meridian Cup is the first major event in the Children in War campaign, which aims to raise public awareness of how children suffer in time of war and of the legal measures available to protect them. The tournament is the fruit of an ICRC/UEFA partnership that started in 1997 and includes the promotion of humanitarian themes at UEFA events.

For the European, African and Egyptian football associations, the Meridian Cup is an opportunity to enhance cross-cultural awareness among the participating teams, who will get to know players from different countries. For the ICRC and the ERC, the Meridian Cup offers a unique opportunity to remind the world of the protection afforded to children by international law.

Four African under-17 teams and four from Europe will take part, playing 16 matches in the stadiums of Ismailya and Port Saïd between 25 January and 1 February. The championship will open officially on 24 January at Cairo International Stadium with a gala match between Ajax Amsterdam – sta rring the world-famous Egyptian player Mido – and the leading Egyptian football club Al-Ahly.

 Further information:  

  Tamara Al Rifaï, ICRC Cairo, tel.: ++201 275 124 50  

 Nada Doumani, ICRC Geneva, tel.: ++41 22 730 27 56 or mobile ++41 79 244 64 14