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Algeria: ICRC president pays official visit

29-05-2013 News Release 13/102

Geneva/Algiers (ICRC) – The president of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Peter Maurer, today completed a three-day visit to Algeria.

Together with the prime minister, Abdelmalek Sellal, he discussed concrete measures to be taken to boost cooperation between Algeria and the ICRC. The two men also exchanged views on the humanitarian situation in certain contexts of armed conflict in Africa and the Middle East.

"I am very satisfied with my visit," said Mr Maurer. "It provided a basis for strengthening the historic ties between Algeria and the ICRC and for exploring new avenues of cooperation. Algeria is a key partner with which we have deepened our political and humanitarian dialogue."

During his visit, the ICRC president also met with the foreign minister, Mourad Medelci, the justice minister and keeper of the seals, Mohamed Charfi, the minister of the interior and local government, Dahou Ould Kablia, and a senior defence ministry official, Gen. Nouredine Mekri.

Among the matters discussed during these meetings were the regional consequences of the crisis in Mali, in particular for southern Algeria. "The ICRC would like to reinforce its partnership with the Algerian Red Crescent, especially in the south of the country, in order to respond to the needs of the people suffering the effects of the conflict in Mali," said Mr Maurer.

The strengthening of the rule of law and the ICRC's support in this area were also a focus of the talks with the Algerian authorities. Mr Maurer discussed the visits the ICRC carries out in places of detention in Algeria and the organization's efforts to promote international humanitarian law.

The ICRC president also inaugurated the new premises of the national committee for the implementation of international humanitarian law. The establishment of the committee in 2008 reflects the importance Algeria places on spreading knowledge of and implementing this body of law.

In addition, Mr Maurer attended the opening of an international colloquium on Emir Abdelkader and international humanitarian law, which was organized by the Emir Abdelkader Foundation in cooperation with the Algerian justice ministry and the ICRC. "This international meeting is an opportunity to draw inspiration from the humanitarian principles of Emir Abdelkader and discuss the challenges facing humanitarian law in present-day conflicts," said the ICRC president. "The aim is to make recommendations for developing this field of law and enhancing compliance, with the ultimate objective of protecting the victims of armed conflict."

Mr Maurer's visit this year coincided with the 150th anniversary of the founding of the ICRC, the 130th anniversary of the death of Emir Abdelkader and the 50th anniversary of Algerian independence and recognition of the Algerian Red Crescent.

For further information, please contact:
Bruce Biber, ICRC Algiers, tel: +213 21 92 43 03
Wolde-Gabriel Saugeron, ICRC Geneva, tel: +41 79 244 64 05