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Russian Federation / Chechnya: ICRC calls on all parties to observe a truce

10-08-1996 News Release 96/25

Geneva (ICRC) - The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is deeply concerned about the suffering endured by the civilian population in Grozny. It therefore appeals to all the parties involved in the fighting to provide the security guarantees needed by its delegates to evacuate the wounded and bring in humanitarian assistance.

Eleven delegates are still present in the city after five days of hostilities. The ICRC's office has given refuge to 120 civilians - including 36 children - fleeing the fighting. So far the red cross emblem marking the compound has been respected by the parties. The ICRC has also organized a distribution of water in front of the compound to enable civilians in that part of the town to replenish their supplies.

According to information received by delegates on the spot, many of the wounded are deprived of medical care because medicines have run out and access to the hospitals is extremely difficult. More than one hundred casualties in Hospital No. 9 are reported to be in urgent need of attention, and at this time Hospital No. 4 may no longer be in operation.

The ICRC is seeking to provide humanitarian aid (medical supplies, food and water) for the hospitals and the civilian population, either from its office in Grozny or from outside.

The security guarantees required for safe access to these hospitals are:

-    a truce, which could be confined to certain areas;

-    an assurance that there are no mines along the route;

-    respect for the red cross emblem and all those protected by it.

On 9 August an ICR C team travelling from Khasavyurt in Daghestan managed to reach the town of Gudermes. The delegates provided medical supplies for the wounded being treated in the town's Hospital No. 2 and transported three serious cases to the central hospital in Khasavyurt.