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Words pronounced by ICRC President Cornelio Sommaruga on the arrival of the mortal remains of the six delegates killed in Chechnya, Cointrin Airport, Geneva, 18/19 December 1996.

19-12-1996 Statement

Chers Amis,

Nous sommes ce soir réunis sur ce tarmac pour accueillir nos collègues et amis dont la vie a été arrêtée par un acte infâme de barbarie.

Je m'incline et je dis merci à Ingeborg, Gunnhild, Nancy, Sheryl, Fernanda et Hans.

The whole of the Red Cross Movement is in mourning, horrified by this revolting massacre, this vile and cowardly act, which brings infamy on its perpetrators. You had volunteered -and not for the first time- to be with the victims, to assist them, to alleviate their suffering, resulting of wounds and illness in a region devastated by months of fierce and often merciless fighting. You had wanted to serve in the Novye Atagi Hospital offered by the Norwegian Red Cross, knowing that it was a place of peace and compassion. The victims of Chechnya had felt your commitment on their behalf. Also in their name we wish to thank you.

Our gratitude is accompanied by my, by our admiration. Under the Red Cross emblem you have accomplished your humanitarian mission with honour and success. The ICRC has a tremendous appreciation for the enthusiastic and professional way in which you have fulfilled your mission; thank you Hans, Fernanda, Sheryl, Gunnhild, Nancy and Ingeborg.

To the affected four National Red Cross Societies of Norway, the Netherlands, Canada and New Zealand, and to the families of the six colleagues that have been murdered, I would like -in the name of their friends and colleagues of the ICRC- to express our profound sympathy and to pay tribute to their memory. Thank you to their Societies and families also to have helped inspiring in their beloved this humanita rian motivation, that has brought them to be with the victims up to their extreme sacrifice. Our suffering will accompany the one of the families. But their remembrance is and will be very present: they will inspire us, they stimulate us by their example; their sacrifice will push our reflexion on some very grave issues to which the ICRC and the whole Red Cross Movement are confronted.

Et vous, chers délégués, collègues et amis de nos six disparus, vous aussi méritez dans votre douleur pour la perte de compagnons fidèles, vous méritez nos sentiments de solidarité, d'admiration et de très grand respect. Vous avez accompli avec EUX une mission des plus importantes. Des milliers de victimes -que nous ne sommes plus en mesure maintenant de protéger et assister- en avaient profité. A vous aussi, je veux dire merci pour votre courage de vous être engagés pour la Croix-Rouge sachant qu'il n'y a pas de mission du CICR sans risques. Envoyons ensemble une pensée d'encouragement et nos voeux chaleureux à Christophe Hensch, qui est blessé à l'hôpital.

Nous devons proclamer ce soir, à l'adresse de toute la communauté internationale que si nous acceptons que l'intolérable se perpétue dans l'indifférence, alors l'intolérable deviendra la norme. Nous ne pouvons, ni voulons accepter cet effondrement des valeurs éthiques. Oeuvrons tous ensemble pour que le sens de cette tragédie, soit au moins celui de réagir pour que la signification de la mission du CICR et de l'emblème de la Croix-Rouge soit mieux connue et comprise!

It is by pursuing that effort that we shall honour the memory of our colleagues that have given lives for the humanitarian cause!

 
Assassination of ICRC personnel in Chechnya