Reference : V-P-PL-D-00007-18
Date : 08/1982
Country/Region : POLAND
Caption : Lodz. The "Waterline" of the Red Cross of the Federal Republic of Germany. This mobile unit, called the "milk cow" transforms the milk powder into drinkink milk and can charge 1200 liters of milk per hour.
Photographer : VERMOT, Françoise
Confidentiality level : public
Publication restrictions : publication without restrictions
Copyright : ICRC
Description :
The "milk cow" provides valuable services, it provides anytime and anywhere, milk table of great value.
The "Waterline" moves every three weeks in different cities in Poland to supply milk in the Polish camps for disadvantaged children.
Three volunteers from the Red Cross of the Federal Republic of Germany work for the proper functioning of "Waterline" (The milk is provided by the Swiss Red Cross).

Annual Report 1982


Shortly after the imposition of martial law in Poland on 13 December 1981, the ICRC sent delegates there to evaluate the needs of civilian population regarding protection and assistance and to offer its services to the Polish authorities, which the latter accepted.
Hence, in 1982, the ICRC was able to give protection and assistance to internees and helped to restore contact between the Poles and their families abroad via its Central Tracing Agency. Furthermore, the ICRC and the League, in conjunction with the Polish Red Cross, carried out and extensive assistance programme for the civilian population, on the basis of an agreement defining the conditions of action by the International Red Cross in Poland, which had been signed on 23 December 1981 and was maintained in 1982. The operational activities were backed up by an appropriate information campaign.
At the beginning of the year, the ICRC delegation in Warsaw consisted of five people. As its activities developed, this number was increased to 27 by the beginning of May, then from summer on was gradually reduced again to 11 people by the end of December. These figures include the delegates from the League (5 at the beginning of May) who, in accordance with the agreement between the League and the ICRC, were integrated in the Warsaw delegation to deal more specifically with the civilian relief operation.
In Geneva, the ICRC-League joint office, set up at the end of 1981 to co-ordinate operations in Poland, was maintained in 1982.
ICRC activities in Poland (including the joint assistance programme) necessitated three appeals for financial support: the first, in January, for 42.7 million Swiss francs for the first four months of the year ; the second, in May, for 40.2 million for the period from 1 May to 31 October ; the third, in December for 18.3 million for the period from 1 November 1982 to 30 June 1983.
In the course of the Polish Red Cross, President Hay stayed in Poland on a working visit from 21 to 25 June, accompanied by the delegate-general for Europe end North America and the Head of the Press Division. The ICRC President was received by General Wojciech Jaruzelski, the Prime Minister. He also met Mr. P. Stefanski, Deputy Marshal (Deputy Speaker) of the Sejm, the Polish parliament, Mr. J. Czyrek, Foreign Minister, Mr. T. Szelachowski, Minister of Health, Mrs. Regent-Lechowicz, Deputy Minister of Justice, Mr. W. Bien, Deputy Minister of Finances , as well as the leaders of the Polish Red Cross. The purpose of this mission was to take stock, with the authorities and the Polish Red Cross, of all the activities carried out by the International Red Cross in their country. During his talks with the government representatives, Mr. Hay particularly discussed protection activities for internees and the possibility of extending activities to persons arrested. During his mission in Poland, President Hay visited the detention centre of Bialoleka and went to the towns of Lodz and Plock, where he was received by representatives of the local branches of the Red Cross and by the municipal authorities.
The delegate-general, accompanied by a representative of the League, visited Poland again from 25 to 28 August for talks with the Polish Red Cross and the authorities on the joint assistance programme and the ICRC's protection activities. He met Mr. Z. Komender, Deputy Prime Minister, Mr. S. Zawadski, Minister of Justice, as well as the Deputy Minister of the Interior and the Deputy Foreign Minister. Most of these people were visited again in December, this time by the regional delegate for Eastern Europe. The discussions were mainly concerned with questions of protection.


PERSONS INTERNED UNDER THE MARTIAL LAW. - Throughout 1982 the ICRC was able to give its protection to the persons interned following the proclamation of martial law on 13 December 1981, after its offer of services to the Polish authorities on 21 December 1981 had received their consent on 21 January 1982. The protection activities began at once and continued until 23 December 1982, when martial law was raised and the last internees were released.
In 1982, 4,851 internees were visited in 24 different places during 79 visits, three of which were to Mr. Lech Walesa. Many internees were seen several times; some were visited in hospitals where they were receiving medical treatment.
The visits to internees were carried out in accordance with the criteria of the ICRC, which was able to interview without witnesses the persons of its choice (the Warsaw delegation included Swiss interpreters). Official approval of the principle of repeated visits had been acquired from the start, and certain centres were even visited five times. At its request the ICRC gradually obtained, from the Polish authorities and the officials in charge of the camps, precise and regular information on the number of detention centres (this number varied during the year according to events), the number of internees, and the transfer and release of persons. The visits to internees, which were the subject of confidential reports destined solely for the Polish authorities, were carried out by groups of four delegates including a doctor.
Following these visits the ICRC delegates, in the courses of the year, submitted 499 requests to the Polish authorities for release on medical grounds, of which 296 were granted. In addition, they recommended special medical treatment for more than 800 internees and drew the attention of the authorities and the National Society to a number of special cases.

PERSONS ARRESTED SINCE THE PROCLAMATION OF MARTIAL LAW. - In 1982, the ICRC tried to extend its action of protection to persons arrested and those sentenced under the martial law, and offered its services for this purpose to the Polish authorities on 18 May. Other steps were taken throughout the year to gain access to the persons arrested. President Hay broached this subject in June when he met the Prime Minister, General Jaruzelski.
Despite these negotiations, the ICRC had still not obtained permission, at the end of 1982, to visit the persons arrested.

Tracing Agency

Following the breakdown in communications between Poland and other countries, the ICRC's Central Tracing Agency in Geneva helped to restore family contacts by making it possible to exchange Red Cross messages; 7,170 messages were transmitted via Geneva between Poland and a number of other countries, with the help of the Polish Red Cross. This activity decreased considerably after July, when the Polish postal service was resumed.
The ICRC served as an intermediary between the Polish authorities and Polish national abroad, transmitting requests for family reuniting. The Central Tracing Agency received 301 requests concerning 572 persons. Priority was given to children left alone in Poland; 86 people, 57 of whom were children on their own, were able to join their relatives abroad.
A tracing office was created within the Warsaw delegation. In connection with the action of protection, it systematically registered all internees visited by the ICRC, their transfers and release. It also handled requests for family news and forwarded Red Cross messages between internees and relatives abroad.


FOR INTERNEES. - Through the Polish Red Cross, the ICRC distributed, once a month, parcels of toilets articles to the internees (15,250 parcels in 1982). These parcels were made up with the help of several donor National Societies.

FOR THE CIVILIAN POPULATION. - With the close collaboration of the Polish Red Cross, the League and the ICRC jointly carried out a programme of assistance for the most vulnerable sections of the civilian population in 49 different voivodships (districts).
The beneficiaries were aged, sick or disabled people, who received food and clothing, infants and their mothers who received food, sanitary articles, and layettes, and children of large families who were given food aid. Aid was also given to the victims of the floods which occurred at the beginning of the year. In the summer, a special food aid programme was carried out in 78 holiday camps run by the Polish Red Cross, during which 32,320 physically and socially needy children received aid. In November, a special feeding programme was started for 16,000 sick children suffering from poor digestive absorption, tuberculosis or diabetes. The second appeal for financial support did not have the desired results, so the assistance programme had to be revised in the course of the year. Consequently, the number of beneficiaries and the amount of individual aid distributed had to be reduced.
These distributions were made by the Polish Red Cross. Regular missions assessed the changing needs in the different areas assisted. They were carried out by relief experts, who were provided for the joint assistance programme by the Red Cross Societies of the Federal Republic of Germany, Austria, Canada, Denmark, Finland and Sweden.
To facilitate the distribution of aid, the International Red Cross provided about sixty trucks for the Polish Red Cross. An ICRC radio operator also went to Poland to set up a communication system between the National Society headquarters and a dozen of its branches.


The overall relief action in 1982 (including relief to internees) amounted to about 16,000 tons of goods and more than 61 million Swiss francs, i.e. 12,000 tons of food worth 34 million Swiss francs, approximately 3,000 tons of clothing worth 21 million Swiss francs, medical items, blankets etc.

Medical assistance

The joint operation of the League and the ICRC also included medical aid.
Following a mission by one of its doctors, the ICRC concentrated more particularly on a programme to supply Polish hospitals. It specified sets of medicaments and medical equipment required which where then put together by the Red Cross Societies of Denmark, the Federal Republic of Germany, Finland, Great Britain, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland and the ICRC itself. Such medical supplies were sent to 411 hospitals, 49 states hospitals, 345 district hospitals and 17 specialized hospital units. From three different sets, the assorted items were later standardized: In 1982, 1,710 sets of medical supplies representing more than 13 million Swiss francs were distributed.
Three other programmes were carried out in the course of the joint operation: supplying essential medicaments to the SOS Pharmacy of the Polish Red Cross; sending special medicaments for the treatment of individual cases; sending equipment to collect blood. The medicine dent to Poland was selected on the basis of the following three criteria: the medicaments had to be made abroad, they had to be unobtainable in Poland and had to be indispensable for the treatment of certain diseases.
The total value of the joint medical aid was approximately 28 million Swiss francs.
Original material : slide
Resolution : 3500x2267
Orientation : landscape
Colour/B&W : colour