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Haiti: ICRC boosts aid and calls for respect for civilians and medical personnel

04-03-2004 News Release 04/17

Geneva / Port-au-Prince (ICRC) – The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has appealed to donors for 4.6 million Swiss francs to meet the cost of its emergency operations in Haiti for the next four months. The funds are needed primarily to cover a substantial increase in surgical and other medical aid to hospitals in order to ensure appropriate care for the wounded and sick.

Increased support is also needed for the ambulance and first-aid services of the Haitian National Red Cross Society.

As the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement's lead agency in Haiti, the ICRC is coordinating its work with that of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies as well as with National Societies such as the French Red Cross, which is bolstering the ambulance service of the Haitian Red Cross, and the Netherlands Red Cross, which is supplying medical kits. Particular emphasis is being placed on building up the emergency-response capacity of the Haitian Red Cross.

Since the beginning of February, the violence in the country has been marked by armed incursions in hospitals, where patients and medical personnel have had their lives threatened. The ICRC is currently stepping up its dialogue with political leaders and armed groups, urging them to take all appropriate measures to ensure respect for civilians and medical personnel.

The ICRC’s programme of visits to detainees throughout the country will continue. In the present situation, the fate of those behind bars is unlikely to be considered a priority by those in control. Such persons are therefore particularly in need of the ICRC’s attention.

The ICRC currently has 30 staff working in Haiti, including 15 expatriates. In response to the conflict, the number of expatriates will grow to 26 in the coming weeks. Surgeons and other emergency staff will be among the ICRC personnel arriving from abroad. They will join the team already in place, as will additional national staff.

 For further information, please contact:  

 Annick Bouvier, ICRC Geneva, tel. ++41 22 730 24 58 or ++41 79 217 32 24  

 Simon Pluess, ICRC Port-au-Prince, tel. ++509 256 78 24 or ++509 257 71 43 or ++509 525 62 68