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Why I’m running the London Marathon for the British Red Cross

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Brad running man.In less than 90 days, I’ll be taking on the biggest challenge of my life: I’m running the London Marathon for the British Red Cross.

It all started with a drink in the pub. In my early 20s, me and four other friends were enjoying one of the fine beers available – probably for the fourth or fifth time that night. We’d made a pact. By the time we’d turned 30, we’d all have run the marathon.

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Top five destinations of an international writer

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Mother with two children on her lap

I’ve taken many journeys to report on the international work of the British Red Cross; from the jungles of Sierra Leone, through Kyrgyzstan’s Tian Shan mountains and into the slums of Haiti to name a few.

I’ve often been asked which country I’ve most enjoyed visiting. Like being asked what your favourite all time song or film is – I find this almost impossible to answer.

The scenery is usually stunning, but as a humanitarian writer it is the people who interest me most. I’ve had the privilege of listening to many people who’ve given me the gift of their story. They are stories about overwhelming struggles with poverty, adversity and disaster. But mostly they are stories about the triumph of the human spirit.

This is my last day as international writer at the British Red Cross and so I’d like to share some of my favourite photos and stories from the past five years. More

How I became an international aid worker: Aidan King

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People standing amid rubble in Gaza

The Palestinian Red Crescent assessing the needs of the local community
© ICRC

Aidan King gives the low-down on working for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) after returning from a 14-month mission in Gaza:

1. What does your job involve?

I work as a detention delegate for the ICRC, which is a role that involves visiting both prisoners of war and civilians interned during armed conflict.  Where possible, the ICRC also visits people detained in other situations of violence. More

How the Red Cross is learning from the city

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Man standing amid rubble in Haiti

Man standing amid rubble in Haiti
© Claudia Janke/BRC

Every day, more than 100,000 people move to urban slums in the developing world – the equivalent of one person every second. They live in challenging conditions and face multiple threats to their lives.

On 19 April, the British Red Cross launches its study on humanitarian action in urban areas at an Overseas Development Institute event. More

Video: Red Cross aids people displaced by violence in Myanmar

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Girl in a pink top carrying a bowl of water on her head

Girl carrying water in camp for displaced people in Rakhine state
© Joe Cropp/IFRC

A new video produced by the Myanmar Red Cross shows volunteers responding to humanitarian needs in Rakhine state following outbreaks of violence in 2012.

Tensions continue to run high between ethnic Rakhine and Muslim communities. Communications which demonstrate the impartiality and neutrality of the Red Cross are vital to ensure good access to affected populations.

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How I became an international aid worker: Ben Webster

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Red Cross workers rescuing people from Philippines flood

Red Cross rescue team evacuates villagers to safety after Typhoon Bopha
© Philippines Red Cross

Ben Webster explains how he got his role as disaster response programme manager at the British Red Cross:

1. What does your job involve?

I work in the disaster response team and we are responsible for monitoring all of the disasters going on around the world. We provide analysis on what the humanitarian needs are (as well as the resources available to respond within the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement) and then make recommendations as to if and how the British Red Cross can best support the situation on the ground. There are so many disasters happening around the world, it is tempting to try and support all of them in one way or another. However, we have to recognise that with limited resources, we need to make them count – which is why our team provides analysis to try and work out where the British Red Cross can really ‘add value’ to the humanitarian response and ensure our resources are used for maximum effect. More

World TB Day: Red Cross fights disease of poverty in Kazakhstan

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Aigherim standing outside with her husband, sister and baby niece

Aigherim standing outside with her husband, sister and baby niece
© Sarah Oughton/BRC

Tuberculosis (TB) threatens thousands of lives in Kazakhstan and every day Red Crescent workers are providing vital support to people facing discrimination.

In the city of Karaganda, the stigma of TB has left Aigherim and her family living in fear of eviction by their landlord.

Although it is a curable disease, TB kills three people every minute (Stop TB).  People who lack the resources to live a healthy life are most at risk, which is why it is often called a ‘disease of poverty’.

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Red Cross targets hunger and HIV threat in Zimbabwe

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Woman sitting in her home in Zimbabwe

Agnes from Matshuzula village has no resources and nothing to grow in her field
© Benoit Matsha-Carpentier/IFRC

As hunger and HIV continue to threaten lives and livelihoods in Zimbabwe, the Red Cross is helping 9,000 families generate their own food and income with agricultural training.

In the past nine months drought, followed by rains, floods and an outbreak of crop-eating caterpillars have hit farming provinces in Zimbabwe hard.

Around 32 per cent of children are chronically malnourished (UNICEF September 2012) and around 1.6 million people are currently in need of help to get enough food to eat on a daily basis. More