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Breaking the humanitarian deadlock in Kivu

01-11-1996 News Release 96/34

Geneva (ICRC) - Hundreds of thousands of victims - both Zairians and refugees - of the wanton violence raging in Kivu are now left without any form of protection or assistance. It has become impossible to help them, not only because of the fighting but also because in the prevailing anarchy facilities have been looted, and vehicles and relief supplies have been stolen.  The number of casualties among the civilian population is already running high, and there is growing fear that the current violence may escalate into a massacre.

In view of the grave humanitarian implications of the present situation, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) appeals to the belligerents to ensure that the rules of international humanitarian law are applied, the civilian population is respected, the wounded are cared for and prisoners are spared.

The ICRC has taken all necessary measures with a view to resuming its activities in Kivu, on the basis of its mandate under the Geneva Conventions and Additional Protocol I, so that the victims can receive the protection and assistance to which they are entitled. To that end, the international community must take urgent diplomatic steps to create the conditions required for ICRC operations and for humanitarian action in general.

The ICRC solemnly appeals to the belligerents to facilitate its humanitarian mission so that it can come to the aid of the victims of the conflict without delay.