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Saudi Arabia: Islamic scholars, legal experts and aid workers exchange views

12-06-2013 News Release 13/105

Kuwait (ICRC) – A three-day workshop on the rights and obligations of humanitarian workers within the scope of international humanitarian law and Islamic jurisprudence concluded in Jeddah today.

Approximately 75 aid workers, representatives of non-governmental organizations, legal experts and Islamic scholars from more than 20 countries took part. The aim was to build bridges of communication and coordination between participating organizations and to raise awareness of humanitarian principles among field workers.

According to Ronald Ofteringer, head of the Global Affairs Unit of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), "the workshop provided an excellent opportunity to lay the foundations for greater mutual understanding and establish new channels of communication among people of diverse backgrounds."

"We discussed ways of improving security for aid workers based on the right to provide humanitarian aid and on the related obligation to abide by core principles of humanity and impartiality," he added.

The workshop was organized jointly by the International Islamic Relief Organization in Saudi Arabia, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and the ICRC. It was attended by staff from all three organizations, and from several national Red Crescent societies, non-governmental organizations and charities from Africa, Asia and the Middle East.

The impact that the teachings of Islam have had on the emergence of and respect for the rules of war was a central topic of discussion. Islamic scholars, medical and legal experts, and experienced field workers gave presentations on the protection provided humanitarian workers and medical services in times of armed conflict by international humanitarian law and Islamic jurisprudence.

To enhance respect for its neutral, impartial and independent humanitarian work, and to foster exchanges and coordination among humanitarian organizations, the ICRC is seeking to strengthen and broaden its dialogue with civil society, non-governmental organizations, and religious and community leaders.

For further information, please contact:
Fouad Bawaba, ICRC Kuwait, tel: +965 97 87 94 34