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Liberia: ICRC urges respect for international humanitarian law

26-06-2003 News Release 03/44

Geneva/Monrovia (ICRC) – The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is deeply concerned about the consequences in humanitarian terms of the current situation in Liberia.

In accordance with its mandate, the ICRC reminds all parties to the conflict of their obligation to respect international humanitarian law. In particular, they must distinguish at all times between the civilian population and those taking an active part in hostilities, and they must spare civilians and protect them from acts of violence and harm to their dignity. They are likewise obliged to distinguish between civilian property and military objectives.

Fighters who surrender or who are no longer capable of fighting, because they are wounded or captured, or for any other reason, may no longer be attacked and must be treated with humanity. Looting of civilian property and any acts directed against humanitarian aid operations are also violations of international humanitarian law.

This appeal is being made following yesterday’s shelling of buildings in Liberia’s capital, Monrovia, where aid workers and thousands of displaced people were gathered. Several civilians were killed and at least 30 people were seriously wounded. They are now being treated in John F. Kennedy Hospital by the ICRC medical team.

The ICRC, which has 19 expatriates and some 130 national staff in the capital, is working without interruption in John F. Kennedy Hospital, where around 200 patients have been admitted in the past two days. In cooperation with Médecins Sans Frontières France and Belgium, and the Liberia National Red Cross Society, the ICRC is striving to bring aid to the thousands of displaced people, the resident population and the war-wounded, despite the difficulty of doing so while the fighting continues.

 Further information:  

 Jordi Raich, ICRC Monrovia, tel. ++377 475 27 859  

 Juan Martinez, ICRC Geneva, tel. ++41 79 217 32 17