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Colombia: Aid distributed following fighting in Toribío

10-07-2012 News Release

Bogotá (ICRC) – The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is distributing humanitarian aid to people injured when an explosive device went off in the medical centre in Toribío, in the north of the department of Cauca. The ICRC has expressed concern about the recent attacks on medical personnel and facilities in the region. The organization is also helping people displaced by fighting.

"The ICRC reminds all parties to the conflict of their duty under international humanitarian law to spare and protect the civilian population and medical personnel, facilities and vehicles in all circumstances," said Benno Kocher, head of the ICRC sub-delegation in Cali.

In the wake of the explosion in the medical centre, the ICRC, in coordination with the Colombian Red Cross, monitored the situation of the five medical personnel who had been injured and transferred to Cali. It supported their families by providing food, accommodation and transport. It also delivered basic medical supplies to the Toribío medical centre.  

"Medical personnel and facilities must be spared and protected at all times," said Mr Kocher. "Their purpose is to save lives and treat the injured. When their work is hindered, there are consequences for the whole population."

The ICRC also delivered food, personal hygiene items and household essentials to two meeting places for indigenous councils, where people have sought temporary refuge following the fighting. "Although many of those forced to flee at the weekend are starting to return home, they remain extremely anxious. They are afraid that further clashes could break out at any time, driving them from their homes again," said Mr Kocher.

The ICRC is assessing people's health-care needs and the damage done to civilian infrastructure in the fighting with a view to helping with repairs if necessary.  

In accordance with its mandate to protect and assist victims of armed conflict, the ICRC is continuing to monitor the situation in other parts of Cauca department affected by the armed conflict, including Miranda, Jambaló, Santander de Quilichao and Caloto, and will deliver humanitarian aid in the El Mango area of Argelia municipality.

For further information, please contact:
María Cristina Rivera (in Spanish), ICRC Bogotá, tel: +57 311 4910775
Pascal Jequier (in English and French), ICRC Bogotá, tel: +57 311 4910789
Alexis Heeb, ICRC Geneva (in English, French and Spanish), tel: +41 79 2187610