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Albania: the ICRC appeals for respect for the Red Cross emblem and humanitarian principles

14-03-1997 News Release 97/05

Geneva (ICRC) - The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is deeply concerned about the alarming situation of lawlessness in Albania and the plethora of weapons circulating among the population there. In the absence of law enforcement, the ICRC calls on all Albanians to exercise restraint, to respect the Red Cross emblem and basic humanitarian principles, and to ensure that the most vulnerable members of the population, and those caring for them, are spared the effects of the violence.

Most of the people killed or injured since the beginning of the unrest have reportedly been victims of stray bullets fired indiscriminately by civilians. Warehouses, hospitals and social-welfare institutions such as orphanages have been looted. As a result, hospitals and local humanitarian organizations are facing major shortages of food and medicines.

The ICRC has eight expatriate staff members in Tirana and is working closely with the Albanian Red Cross, which remains active throughout the country. It has provided the Albanian Red Cross with essential surgical material sufficient for the treatment of 400  wounded. Food and medical supplies have also been delivered to the hospital in the town of Vlore. Further surveys will be carried out to assess needs in the south of the country, where the ICRC plans to open an office.