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Haiti: Humanitarian convoy arrives in Gonaives

17-02-2004 News Release 04/17

The ICRC yesterday delivered a consignment of aid to the hospital in Gonaives for the first time since the city came under the control of the armed opposition.

Anxious to alleviate a situation of humanitarian concern in a city rocked by violent clashes, the organization obtained the security guarantees needed for the operation from both the Haitian government and the Artibonite Resistance Front.

With two ICRC doctors on board, the convoy left Port-au-Prince on Monday morning and arrived later in the day in Gonaives where it delivered 1,200 kg of surgical supplies, enough to treat over 100 wounded people. The ICRC doctors will be endeavouring to improve the functioning of this hospital hampered in its work by the fact that the dangerous situation has made both staff and patients afraid to go to the facility.

The head of the ICRC's mission in Haiti pointed out that the three-day operation would also be used to assess, together with the Haitian Red Cross, the need for further humanitarian aid in Gonaives and the surrounding area.

In recent days, surgical kits have also been pre-positioned at Justinien Hospital, in the northern city of Cap Haïtien, and at Canapé-Vert Hospital in Port-au-Prince. Another kit will shortly be sent to St Michel Hospital in the southern town of Jacmel.

Meanwhile, senior government officials have reaffirmed their willingness to allow ICRC delegates to step up their visits to detainees. They will now have access to those being held in police stations.

Visiting persons deprived of their freedom enables the ICRC to monitor their physical and mental condition throughout their period in detention. The organization's observations and recommendations are conveyed confidentially to the authorities concer ned.

 For further information, please contact:  

 Simon Pluess, ICRC Port-au-Prince, tel. ++ 509 256 78 24  

 Adolfo Beteta, ICRC Mexico City, tel. ++ 5255 52 55 43 55  

 Eros Bosisio, ICRC Geneva, tel. ++ 41 22 730 21 01