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International Day for the Disabled: Long-term ICRC commitment

02-12-2003 News Release 03/78

Geneva (ICRC) – Since its inception, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has done its utmost to alleviate the plight of conflict victims, particularly disabled civilians and military personnel. On the approach of International Day for the Disabled, the ICRC remains as committed as ever to pursuing this vital work.

The ICRC currently runs programmes for the disabled in 58 physical rehabilitation centres in 25 countries across the globe. To date, ICRC physical rehabilitation teams have assisted over 140,000 war-disabled, mostly amputees. Fifty ICRC experts are at present working with local specialists to produce artificial limbs and orthotics and to provide physiotherapy.

To ensure continuity of these services over the long term, the ICRC set up a Special Fund for the Disabled in 1983. The Fund makes it possible for amputees and other disabled people to go on receiving treatment once hostilities have ceased and the ICRC, in accordance with its mandate, has completed its own programmes. The Fund thus plays a major role in helping disabled people regain a place in society.

For the past 13 years, the Italian physiotherapist Alberto Cairo has offered hope and care to war amputees and the disabled of Afghanistan. In charge of the ICRC’s physical rehabilitation programme in the country, he heads a dedicated team of specialists who fit hundreds of patients with artificial limbs each month. A description of his recent visit to Cambodia (“ Mined lives ”) as well as further information on ICRC physical rehabilitation activities can be found on the organization’s website.


 For further information, please contact:  

 Eros Bosisio, ICRC Geneva, tel. ++41 22 730 21 01