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Rwanda: saving the lives of detainees

01-11-1995 News Release 44

On his return from a four-day visit to Rwanda (25 to 28 October), ICRC President Cornelio Sommaruga once again expressed acute humanitarian concern about the situation in a country which is only slowly recovering from the 1994 genocide.

Mr Sommaruga said at a press conference in Geneva that the ICRC's operation in Rwanda, which provides drinking water, food and medicines for some 58,000 people detained in appallingly overcrowded conditions, was one of the largest in its history. Because of the exceptional nature of the crisis, the ICRC is also working with the Rwandan authorities and various UN agencies to install facilities in new detention centres. The sole purpose of this ICRC project is to save the lives of detainees; it does not imply a long-term commitment to tasks that are the responsibility of the Rwandan government alone. Mr Sommaruga also firmly stated that humanitarian organizations must not bear the burden of helping Rwanda on their own; it must be shared by the international community as a whole.