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Russian Federation/Northern Caucasus: ICRC urges respect for civilians

28-10-1999 News Release 99/58

Geneva (ICRC) - As hostilities intensify in and around Grozny and other cities in the Chechen republic, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is extremely concerned for the civilian population trapped in the violence.

The ICRC calls on all those taking part in the fighting to abide by the rules of international humanitarian law. It urges them to respect and protect civilians by enabling them to leave conflict areas and by refraining from launching indiscriminate attacks that spread terror among the population or from using civilians for military purposes. The ICRC also reminds all those involved in the hostilities that they should be clearly distinguishable from civilians. It further enjoins all those engaged in the fighting to ensure that persons captured and detained are treated humanely, to care for the wounded and the sick, to protect hospitals and medical personnel and to respect the red cross/red crescent emblem. Furthermore, the ICRC considers it imperative that humanitarian assistance for civilians and the wounded be allowed into Chechnya.

In spite of worsening security conditions, the ICRC's team of locally recruited staff in Grozny, together with the Russian Red Cross, has so far continued to provide assistance, mainly for medical facilities.