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Republic of Congo: ICRC urges respect for humanitarian rules

12-06-1997 News Release 97/18

Geneva (ICRC) - The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is extremely concerned about the fighting that has been raging in Brazzaville for more than a week, undoubtedly claiming numerous civilian lives in this highly populated urban area, and the ICRC fears that further hostilities will have disastrous consequences in humanitarian terms.

The ICRC calls on all the parties involved to abide by the rules of international humanitarian law, and in particular to make a clear distinction between combatants and civilians and to respect persons who are not or are no longer taking part in the hostilities. It also emphasizes that it is prohibited to launch indiscriminate attacks endangering the civilian population, to use civilians as human shields, and to terrorize the population. Individuals no longer participating in the fighting, such as wounded or sick combatants, must be collected and given proper care, and those captured must be treated humanely.

The intensity of the hostilities has compelled the ICRC and the Congolese Red Cross to suspend their activities in the capital. If the Red Cross teams are to be able to resume their work, the parties must show respect for the red cross emblem and guarantee the safety of humanitarian workers.

The ICRC urges the warring parties to do everything possible to ensure compliance with these basic rules and principles.