Iraq: Visiting ICRC president concerned at plight of civilians
13-03-2014 News Release
Geneva/Baghdad (ICRC) – ICRC president Peter Maurer today completed a four-day visit to Iraq during which he met families in Amiriyat Al-Fallujah forced to flee their homes in Al-Anbar province and unable to return because of intense fighting.
Mr Maurer also held meetings with senior Iraqi officials, including the prime minister, the vice-president, the minister of foreign affairs and the speaker of the parliament, and with religious leaders and the president of the Iraqi Red Crescent Society, to discuss the worsening humanitarian situation in violence-prone areas. In Erbil today, he also met with the president of Iraqi Kurdistan region and the prime minister of the Kurdistan regional government.
"I am gravely concerned for the thousands of Iraqis who have fled their homes due to rising violence and a lack of security, only to encounter new difficulties and hardships," said Mr Maurer. "In my meetings this week, I reiterated the ICRC’s readiness to address these growing humanitarian needs and deliver more aid to people affected by the fighting. Swift relief efforts are required, together with an open and honest dialogue with all parties to the fighting, to ensure that civilians are protected, health workers can carry out their work in safety and aid reaches those who need it most, in a timely manner. We are eager to work hand-in-hand with volunteers of the Iraqi Red Crescent Society, building on our long-standing cooperation. With violence escalating, meaningful humanitarian action is more important than ever."
During his meetings, Mr Maurer also discussed the consequences of the Syrian conflict and its impact on Iraq.
"The ICRC has a well-established presence in Iraq at all levels, and most importantly among ordinary Iraqis. For over thirty years now, this has allowed us to respond effectively to the consequences of past conflicts and sporadic outbreaks of violence," said Mr Maurer. "I welcome the statements from Iraqi officials showing their understanding of the suffering that civilians face when security is inadequate. I am convinced that improved compliance with international humanitarian law and human rights law will help pave the way to national reconciliation."
For further information, please contact:
Pawel Krzysiek, ICRC Baghdad, tel: +964 790 191 6927
Ewan Watson, ICRC Geneva, tel: +41 22 730 33 45 or +41 79 244 64 70