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National Red Cross and ICRC active in Central African Republic

24-05-1996 News Release 96/19

Geneva (ICRC) - A team of delegates of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) arrived in Bangui, the capital of the Central African Republic, from Yaoundé, Cameroon, and N'Djamena, Chad, early Friday afternoon aboard two vehicles loaded with first-aid kits, surgical supplies and sutures, dressings, perfusion materials and basic medicines. The delegates immediately went to the city's hospital where volunteers of the Central African Red Cross have been maintaining basic medical services since the disturbances broke out on 18 May.

The team, which includes a nurse, will provide support for the remarkable work being done by the National Society, whose first-aiders have already evacuated and treated over a hundred casualties. The ICRC will also carry out a survey of the most urgent needs so that with the agreement of the parties it can tailor its future action, whether in the form of medical and material assistance or visits to persons deprived of their freedom, to requirements on the spot.

Given the deterioration in the situation in the Central African Republic, the ICRC reminds all the forces present of their obligation to comply with the rules and principles of international humanitarian law, in particular:

-    to protect and respect pe rsons not taking part or no longer taking part in the fighting, especially civilians, persons who have been captured or have laid down their arms, and the wounded;

- to refrain from launching indiscriminate attacks and, in the conduct of military operations, to make a clear distinction at all times between combatants and military objectives on the one hand, and civilians and civilian objects on the other;

- to respect and ensure respect for the red cross emblem, and in particular hospitals and medical personnel, vehicles and units.