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Gaza: ICRC president demands greater respect for civilians and humanitarian workers

13-01-2009 News Release

Geneva/Jerusalem/Gaza (ICRC) – During a visit to the Gaza Strip today, the president of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Jakob Kellenberger, urged the fighting parties to spare civilians and let humanitarian workers do their work. "Both parties must ensure that all victims are cared for rapidly, at all times of day. In particular, the wounded must be evacuated and receive treatment," said Mr Kellenberger. "Injured people cannot wait for days, or even for hours, before being treated. The work of medical personnel must be respected – and this is not negotiable."

 
 
   
 

See video of Shifa Hospital and the ICRC surgical team
   
         
  ©ICRC/il-e-01532 
 
14.01.2009 ICRC president Jakob Kellenberger at Shifa Hospital in Gaza City    
      

The visit comes at a time of intensified fighting and deepening humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip. Civilians trapped in combat zones are particularly affected. Hospitals are being overwhelmed by a steady influx of casualties, including more and more women and children.

" What I saw today was shocking, " said Mr Kellenberger. " It is unacceptable to see so many wounded people. Their lives must be spared and the security of those who care for them guaranteed. " The ICRC president visited Shifa Hospital, where he met patients in the intensive care unit, an ICRC surgical team and other medical personnel.

Mr Kellenberger insisted that the ICRC will continue to do everything it can to help medical personnel and Palestine Red Crescent Society aid workers carry out their duties. Palestine Red Crescent ambulance teams are putting their lives at risk every day to save the lives of others.

On 14 January, Mr Kellenberger will visit Sderot in southern Israel, where civilians are enduring rocket attacks from Gaza, and meet with Israel's Magen David Adom rescue teams.

He will also hold talks with Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak, and President Mahmud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority.

 For further information, please contact:  

 Dorothea Krimitsas, ICRC Geneva, tel: +41 22 730 25 90 or +41 79 251 93 18  

 Anne-Sophie Bonefeld, ICRC Jerusalem, tel: +972 2 582 88 45 or +972 52 601 91 50  

 Iyad Nasr, ICRC Gaza, tel: +972 59 960 30 15 (Arabic)  

 Yael Segev-Eytan, ICRC Tel Aviv, tel: +972 3 524 52 86 or +972 52 275 75 17 (Hebrew)  

 Nadia Dibsy, ICRC Jerusalem, tel: +972 5917900 or +972 52 601 91 48 (Arabic)