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ICRC urges governments to address human cost of light weapons

11-07-2001 News Release 01/27



Geneva (ICRC) - Speaking today at the United Nations Conference on the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and its partners from the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement called on the international community to recognize the serious humanitarian consequences of unregulated arms transfers.
" We don't know much about weapons but we know a lot about what happens to people who fall victim to them, " said Peter Herby, coordinator of the ICRC's Mines-Arms Unit, during a briefing held at the UN conference – the first of its kind – in New York. " It is essential to seek ways to protect the civilian population exposed to the harm caused by small arms and light weapons, which are more and more readily available in armed conflicts. "
A recent ICRC study shows that widespread arms availability facilitates violations of international humanitarian law, increases civilian suffering, impedes humanitarian assistance and prolongs conflicts.
To highlight the human cost of small arms in armed conflicts, the ICRC and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies held a special briefing at the conference today. The experiences of National Red Cross Societies in addressing problems caused by widespread arms availability in two countries – Mali and Yugoslavia – were presented to the public.
" It used to be thought that weapons were a source of security. Now we can see that they are increasingly a source of great insecurity, " said Miodrag Starcevic from the Yugoslav Red Cross.

On T hursday 12 July, the ICRC made a formal statement to the UN
conference, urging governments to take concrete measures to address the humanitarian problems caused by small arms and light weapons.
 Further information:  

 Peter Herby or Lena Eskeland, ICRC New York, tel: ++1 917 913 6524
Antonella Notari, ICRC Geneva, tel: ++41 22 730 22 82 or ++41 79 217 32 80