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Sierra Leone: ICRC urges respect for civilians

10-02-1998 News Release 98/06

Geneva (ICRC) - The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is extremely concerned by the plight of the civilian population of the Sierra Leone capital Freetown following the resumption on 5 February of clashes between troops of the junta in power and ECOMOG forces. The city's residents are again trapped by the fighting, which has become even more intense today according to ICRC delegates on the spot.

The ICRC appeals to the parties to the conflict and any other entities and individuals who have taken up arms to comply with the rules of international humanitarian law. It stresses in particular the duty to respect and protect civilians and the prohibition on launching indiscriminate attacks, terrorizing the population or using civilians for military purposes.

The ICRC also urges the parties to treat captured persons humanely, to ensure that the wounded and sick have access to medical care, to protect medical facilities and their staff and to respect the Red Cross and its emblem.

The ICRC has been working in Sierra Leone since 1991 and currently has 27 expatriate staff in the country, 15 of them in Freetown.