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South Sudan: ICRC urges respect for medical and other humanitarian work

18-01-2014 News Release

Geneva/Juba (ICRC) –The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is increasingly concerned about the lack of respect in South Sudan for medical and humanitarian work and for those carrying it out. The organization is calling on all parties to take immediate steps to ensure that medical personnel and humanitarian staff, and all associated facilities and vehicles, are spared in the fighting.

Under international humanitarian law, people doing medical work benefit from special protection. Wounded and sick people and medical facilities, vehicles and personnel must be spared and protected without exception at all times.

"South Sudan was already in a difficult situation,” said Melker Mabeck, head of the ICRC delegation in the country. But now it’s facing an increasingly serious crisis in humanitarian terms and it is vital that humanitarian workers should be spared and that their facilities and vehicles not be attacked."

The ICRC calls on all parties to comply with their obligations under humanitarian law, that is, to allow safe access for humanitarian work. They must refrain from deliberately impeding the delivery of relief supplies to civilians in need in areas under their control.

Since the violence started on 15 December, the ICRC and the South Sudan Red Cross have been working to address the most urgent needs throughout the country.

Despite the challenging environment, Mr Mabeck said, the ICRC was doing its utmost to meet the urgent needs in South Sudan. “We’re exploring every possible option for bringing aid to the people who need it and to care for the injured." For the ICRC to be able to continue working, everyone involved in the fighting has a fundamental duty to protect humanitarian staff and health-care workers especially in areas where armed violence is under way. They are also obliged to ensure that hospitals, mobile clinics and ambulances are not damaged or misused.

For further information, please contact:
Jake Kurtzer, ICRC Juba, tel: +211 912 360 038, twitter: @JKurtzerICRC
Alexis Heeb, ICRC Geneva, tel: +41 79 218 76 10, twitter: @AHeebICRC