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OAU Secretary-General visits ICRC

16-10-1995 News Release 1802

Geneva (ICRC) - The Secretary-General of the Organization of African Unity (OAU), Dr Salim Ahmed Salim, was received today 16 October by the President of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Cornelio Sommaruga.

The ICRC President assured Dr Salim once again of the ICRC's firm commitment not to abandon African victims of war and violence to their fate.

During their meeting, the two men covered various issues of concern on the African continent, including the unstable situation in the Great Lakes region. In particular they discussed matters related to the repatriation of Rwandan refugees and the need to create acceptable conditions for their return. The ICRC President reiterated his particular concern about conditions of detention in Rwanda.

It was the OAU Secretary-General's second official visit to the ICRC. In 1992, the ICRC and the OAU concluded a cooperation agreement, which has resulted in several joint projects, mainly involving the teaching of  international   humanitarian law to armed forces in Africa.

In resolutions adopted in 1994 and 1995, the OAU Council of Ministers paid tribute to the important role of the ICRC in protecting  and assisting victims of armed conflict, and endorsed the recommendations made by a joint OAU ICRC seminar, calling for a total ban on the production and use of landmines.

The ICRC has delegations in 15 African countries, with 444 expatriates and over 5,100 national staff. The cost of operations in Africa amounted to 271 million Swiss francs in 1994, that is, over 45% of the ICRC's field expe nditure worldwide.