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Disturbances in Addis Ababa: the Red Cross in action

19-04-2001 News Release 01/12

Addis Ababa (ICRC) - Following the sharp increase of violence that culminated on 18 April in Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian Red Cross Society (ERCS) and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) increased their humanitarian activities in the capital.

When clashes first erupted as early as Thursday, April 12, the ERCS immediately sent ambulances to the Addis Ababa University compound to collect wounded persons but were denied access. Despite initial difficulty of access to the compound, the ERCS ambulances have transported since then dozens of wounded to different hospitals. On Wednesday 18, the ambulances were continuously in action. Unfortunately, two ambulances were smashed with rocks, one being totally destroyed. ERCS volunteers were shocked but unharmed. Altogether, the ERCS is presently running 11 ambulances with medical supplies provided by the ICRC.

With the co-operation of the ERCS, the ICRC provided medical and surgical material to five hospitals to enable them to treat hundreds of wounded, let it be students, policemen or any other person in need.

In its capacity as a neutral and independent intermediary, the ICRC is ready to carry out its traditional activities in favour of all persons affected by the situation, with the full agreement of the relevant authorities. It will continue to support the ERCS in its humanitarian duties.

The ICRC calls upon all those involved to refrain from using excessive violence and force, and to abide by fundamental humanitarian principles. In that respect, all wounded and sick must be collected and cared for. Ambulances and members of the medical services are protected by the neutral em blem of the Red Cross and therefore must be respected. They must be allowed to circulate unharmed so that they can discharge their humanitarian duties.

 Following various requests, the ICRC wishes to specify that it does not have precise figures regarding the number of persons wounded on the occasion of the last events in Addis Ababa. The medical and surgical assistance it provided to five hospitals for about 400 wounded was done without consideration for the real number of wounded persons. The objective of this assistance was to make sure that hospitals would not be in lack of vital material for existing wounded and for any other emergency.