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Iraq: Delegate's death confirmed

09-04-2003 News Release 03/27

Geneva (ICRC) - The body of Vatche Arslanian, a delegate of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) who had been unaccounted for since 8 April in the afternoon, was recovered today in Baghdad by his colleagues and brought to Ibn Nafis hospital.

According to information that the ICRC in Baghdad was able to gather on the circumstances of Mr Arslanian's death, two vehicles in which he and other ICRC staff members were travelling were caught in crossfire. Mr Arslanian died instantly. A total of 13 people are reported to have been killed in the same incident, which involved five other cars.

The ICRC and its staff are deeply distressed by the loss of their friend and colleague. The International Committee extends its heartfelt sympathy to Mr Arslanian's family.

Balthasar Staehelin, the ICRC's Delegate-General for the Middle East and North Africa, said " the courageous decision by six ICRC expatriates to stay in Baghdad voluntarily during the worst of the fighting made a marked difference to the lives of thousands of people. Mr Arslanian was one of those six and we can find some solace in knowing that he helped to make that difference " .

The ICRC team in Baghdad will hold a day of mourning on Thursday 10 April.

The ICRC will assess the situation in Baghdad with a view to deciding its future course of action. In the meantime, ICRC staff based in Arbil and Basra are pursuing their humanitarian activities.

 Further information:  

 Antonella Notari, ICRC Geneva, tel. ++41 22 730 22 82 / ++41 79 217 32 80  

 Nada Doumani, ICRC Geneva, tel. ++41 22 730 27 56 / ++41 79 244 64 14  

 Florian Westphal, ICRC Geneva, tel. ++41 22 730 29 30 / ++41 79 217 32 26  

 Roland Huguenin, ICRC Baghdad, tel. ++873 761 845 610