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ICRC staff remember colleagues killed in the course of their duties

17-12-2001 News Release 01/70

Geneva (ICRC) - Today, 17 December 2001, the staff of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) are paying tribute to friends and colleagues killed while bringing aid to victims of war. The date is the fifth anniversary of the assassination of six ICRC delegates at the organization's hospital in the Chechen village of Novye Atagi, but over the years has become a day to honour and remember all ICRC personnel who have lost their lives in the course of their humanitarian work around the world. In 1996 three ICRC delegates were killed in an ambush in Burundi, and in 2001 six ICRC staff were assassinated in the Democratic Republic of Congo and a pilot died when an ICRC plane was fired on in southern Sudan.

This commemoration also extends to colleagues from the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement and from other humanitarian agencies, together with civilian and military medical personnel killed while performing their duties.

The ICRC calls upon all those taking part in armed conflict and internal violence to respect impartial humanitarian work and medical activities, and to refrain from attacking anyone involved in such action. As civilians, humanitarian workers are protected by the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949 and the Additional Protocols of 1977. Civilian and military medical personnel are protected by all four Geneva Conventions and their two Additional Protocols. The wilful killing of such personnel is a grave breach of international humanitarian law.

To this day, investigations into the deaths of ICRC staff undertaken by the authorities of the countries concer ned have yielded no tangible results. The ICRC once again appeals to the relevant authorities to do their utmost to find the perpetrators of these acts and to bring them to justice.