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South Kivu: ICRC calls for restraint

18-10-1996 News Release 96/32

Geneva (ICRC) - South Kivu and the border areas of Zaire are the scene of growing violence, and the current escalation in warlike rhetoric is fuelling hatred, intolerance and a trend towards exclusion. Unruly behaviour on the part of those bearing weapons, excesses and abuses, including an incident involving a medical facility, are creating a climate of fear and dangerously increasing tension in this troubled area, rife with unresolved and highly explosive political issues.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is concerned to note that this radical turn of events is linked to the question of ethnic identity, which has already caused large-scale disaster in the Great Lakes region. The ICRC consequently calls on all the parties concerned to ensure that moderation and restraint prevail.

The ICRC moreover wants to remind all those bearing arms and military and political leaders of the basic and universally recognized rules that demand respect for civilians, the wounded and captured combatants, as well as for the staff of humanitarian organizations and of the ICRC in particular.

The ICRC is currently sending medical personnel and the equipment required to set up a surgical unit at the Uvira hospital. It also plans to extend its activities in aid of all the victims, in accordance with its principles of neutrality and impartiality, and needs the support of all involved if its staff are to be able to work and travel throughout the area in safety.