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Northern Iraq: detainees visited and medical supplies distributed

28-08-1996 News Release 96/34

Heavy fighting has been taking place since 17 August between the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) and the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) in the Iraqi governorates of Arbil and Sulaimaniyah. When the fighting broke out, ICRC delegates promptly assessed the needs in the region's eight main hospitals, to which over 400 casualties have so far been admitted, and  distributed a large quantity of medical supplies.

The ICRC approached the commanders of both parties with a view to gaining rapid access to prisoners. On 26 August, several dozen prisoners held by the KDP in Akra were registered and interviewed in private. The following day, a visit was made to persons being held by the PUK in the Sulaimaniyah area. A memorandum was handed to both parties on 28 August recalling the basic rules of international humanitarian law, including those governing the conduct of hostilities. In particular, it reaffirmed the obligation to spare persons not taking part in the hostilities and the need to show due respect for the red cross and red crescent emblem and for medical units.

The ICRC has 12 delegates in northern Iraq, assisted by local staff members. They are based at its Dahuk and Sulaimaniyah offices and the Arbil sub-delegation.