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Protecting civilians

According to the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and their Additional Protocols of 1977, civilians and all persons not taking part in combat may under no circumstances be the object of attack and must be spared and protected. In fact, however, this principle has been undermined, because the civilian population, particularly since the Second World War, has suffered most of the consequences of armed violence. Read full overview

Selected issues

  • Eastern DRC. Kristin Barstad visits children in a Children and the ravages of war

    ICRC child protection adviser, Kristin Barstad, talks about the plight of children during war and what the organization does to protect and assist them.

  • Sexual violence

    Sexual violence is prevalent in many modern conflicts. The ICRC is committed to stepping up its efforts to prevent this crime and help the victims.

  • Internal displacement: the ICRC’s work in 2010

    Working with National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, the ICRC provided humanitarian assistance to 4.3 million internally displaced people in 32 countries during 2010, all of whom had been driven from their homes by armed conflict or violence.

  • Missing persons: a major humanitarian concern

    Families of missing persons suffer greatly owing to uncertainty about the fate of their loved ones who have disappeared as a result of armed conflicts or internal violence. Morris Tidball-Binz, an ICRC forensic doctor, talks about the role of forensics in clarifying the fate of missing persons.

  • Women take part in a support group for the wives and mothers of missing persons. Nepal: women and their missing relatives

    More than 1,400 people – mostly men – are still missing following the 10-year armed conflict in Nepal. Their wives or mothers have had to take on the "man's" role in their families. On the occasion of International Women's Day (8 March), Sylvie Thoral, who heads the ICRC delegation in Nepal, explains how they are coping.

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