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Eritrea/Ethiopia: ICRC urges respect for humanitarian rules

19-03-1999 News Release 99/11

ICRC (Geneva) - The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), extremely concerned about the humanitarian implications of the conflict on the border between Eritrea and Ethiopia, urgently calls on the parties to abide by the rules of international humanitarian law.

Thousands of soldiers are reported to have been wounded, killed or captured since violent clashes resumed in early February. After a temporary lull the fighting intensified in mid-March, again claiming numerous victims.

The ICRC earnestly requests that all the wounded and sick without distinction be evacuated from the battlefield and be given appropriate medical care. Combatants killed in the fighting must be identified and afforded a decent burial. Their places of burial must be duly marked.

The ICRC further reminds the parties that prisoners of war and civilian internees must be treated in accordance with the provisions of the Geneva Conventions.

The belligerents are also duty bound to take all necessary steps to safeguard the civilian population from the dangers of military operations.

By virtue of the mandate entrusted to it by the Geneva Conventions, the ICRC stands ready to assist and protect the victims, in accordance with the criteria governing its neutral and independent humanitarian action.