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Good morning, this is Kasmira and before we wrap up the year, we look at the Jean-Pictet competition that some of you may have even taken part in.

For 30-odd years, its two co-founders have sought to take international humanitarian law “out of the books” by immersing students in a week-long contest that puts their skills to the test. Last week, they were awarded the Henri Dunant Prize in what was no ordinary ceremony...

Plus, after several months of reporting on the lives of women in Afghanistan, our journalist Tooba Neda Safi shares her own personal story that brought her here to Switzerland.

We wish you a happy holiday and New Year.

photo journaliste

Kasmira Jefford


Taking law students ‘out of their books’ and into the field

Photo article

Christophe Lanord accepting the Henri Dunant prize from one of the Swiss humanitarian’s descendants at the IFRC headquarters, Geneva, 16 December. Co-founder and co-winner Michel Deyra stands to the far right. (Credit: Cherif Hamideche)

It’s 1859. Henri Dunant, the soon-to-be founding father of the Red Cross, has just arrived at a village near Solferino, in Italy, in the aftermath of a bloody battle between Austria and the French-backed Piedmont Sardinian army.

He is there by chance to appeal to Napoleon III on a business matter. But on seeing the thousands of wounded soldiers, Dunant puts his affairs aside and is inspired instead to find ways of helping the injured – which will eventually be the start of the world’s largest humanitarian movement.

Dunant and two associates go to meet the French chief of state, Marshal MacMahon and his two aides, to try and persuade him to take necessary measures.

Except – the location is not Italy but closer to home at the IFRC’s headquarters in Geneva on 16 December, where six international humanitarian law experts and students are reenacting this semi-fictitious encounter.

The aim of the theatrical role-playing exercise? To provide a glimpse into the workings of the Jean-Pictet Competition – a prestigious and long-running contest for IHL students – after its co-founders were selected as the winners of this year’s Henri Dunant field prize.

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Life after Afghanistan: like silence after screaming. For the past few months our journalist Tooba Neda Safi has been covering stories of Afghan women whose lives have been affected by the rise of the Taliban regime. These women have either been forced to live under the strict and repressive rule of the Taliban or have had no choice but to flee their home country. Neda is passionate about telling their stories, many of which mirror her own. More than twenty years ago, when the Taliban was first in power, she was in the same situation – “like a bird in a cage”, as she describes it. Here, she tells her story.

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