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Syria: Red Cross Red Crescent Movement deplores killing of aid worker

10-07-2012 News Release 12/142

Damascus/Geneva (Syrian Arab Red Crescent/ICRC/International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies) – A Syrian Arab Red Crescent staff member, Khaled Khaffaji, was shot last night in Deir Ezzor, eastern Syria, and died today. This is the second time in less than a month that a member of the Red Crescent has been killed while on duty.

The Syrian Arab Red Crescent, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies are deeply shocked by the death of Mr Khaffaji and condemn the shooting in the strongest possible terms. "We are devastated. The loss of Khaled is completely unacceptable," said Dr Abdul Rahman al-Attar, the president of the Syrian Arab Red Crescent. "All sides must respect health-care workers and the red cross and red crescent emblems, and allow Syrian Arab Red Crescent volunteers to provide assistance unhindered and in safety."

Mr Khaffaji was shot while on duty in an ambulance clearly marked with the red crescent emblem.

It is of the utmost importance that aid workers not to be harmed. "The ICRC condemns all attacks on civilians, including medical and humanitarian workers. The ICRC and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent work together in Syria to provide life-saving assistance to those in need on an impartial basis," said Marianne Gasser, the head of the ICRC's delegation in the country. "First-aid workers must be protected, and allowed to safely continue assisting people in need."

"While performing its duties of helping people amid the fighting, the Syrian Arab Red Crescent has to date lost four volunteers and its secretary-general," said Erika Jansson, from the International Federation. "Many are still risking their lives on a daily basis, providing urgent assistance to people in need."

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and the ICRC express their deepest and heartfelt condolences to Mr Khaffaji’s family and friends and to the entire Syrian Arab Red Crescent.

Under international humanitarian law, parties to an armed conflict must distinguish at all times between civilians and those involved in fighting, and take all feasible precautions to spare civilian lives. Medical staff and facilities, and humanitarian relief personnel, must be respected and protected from attack.

For further information, please contact:
Cecilia Goin, ICRC Damascus, tel: +963 930 177 746
Rabab Al-Rifaï, ICRC Damascus, tel: +963 993 700 847 or +963 11 331 0476
Hicham Hassan, ICRC Geneva, tel: +41 22 730 25 41 or +41 79 536 92 57