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ICRC president to visit African Union headquarters

18-10-2012 News Release 12/207

Addis Ababa (ICRC) – Peter Maurer, president of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), is in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, for discussions with senior officials of the African Union (AU). This is the first visit of the ICRC president to Africa since he took up his duties on 1 July 2012.

The president's visit comes at a time when the ICRC is celebrating 20 years of cooperation with the AU. The occasion is expected to provide an opportunity to take stock of ICRC contributions to AU initiatives over the past two decades and to discuss ways of further strengthening cooperation.

During his visit, Mr Maurer will meet with various AU officials to discuss a range of matters of common concern relating to armed conflicts and internal violence on the continent and their humanitarian consequences. Mr Maurer will also attend a special session of the AU Peace and Security Council to brief member State representatives on ICRC activities and exchange views on humanitarian issues in Africa.

"I will mainly highlight the necessity of independent and neutral humanitarian action in today's armed conflicts," said Mr Maurer. "I will also discuss the challenges of assisting and protecting civilians, in particular internally displaced people and women and children."

The ICRC president is also expected to meet with AU Partners Group ambassadors to brief them on the ICRC's humanitarian operations and on its concerns in Africa and elsewhere, including for example in Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq.

Since May 1992, the ICRC and the AU have exchanged views on matters of humanitarian concern and promoted better knowledge of and respect for international humanitarian law. The humanitarian organization has also provided legal support to the AU Commission to help it take international humanitarian law into account in its decisions and policies, and to reinforce and maintain the multilateral network with African States that are party to instruments of international humanitarian law.

For further information, please contact:
Betel Hailu, ICRC Addis Ababa, tel: +251 116 47 83 20