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Colombia: Campaign to promote protection of civilians

23-05-2001 News Release 01/20

In an effort to raise awareness among those involved in the armed conflict in Colombia of the imperative need to protect the civilian population from the hostilities, the ICRC and the Colombian Red Cross are conducting a nationwide information campaign.

" Don't make civilians the target of your attacks " is the main message of the campaign, which was officially launched in Bogotá on 25 April under the title " Juegue limpio " (Play fair).

" The campaign is part of a broad strategy for spreading knowledge of international humanitarian law which we have been implementing since the early 1980s " , explained Georges Cominos, head of the ICRC delegation in Bogotá. " In this case, however, by invoking Article 13 of Protocol II additional to the Geneva Conventions, we wanted to make a special appeal to the various armed groups to respect civilians, who are increasingly bearing the brunt of the conflict " .

Both the written press and local and national radio and TV stations are supporting the campaign by publishing articles and broadcasting spots on this vital aspect of the situation in Colombia.

" It is a deplorable but undeniable fact that, directly or indirectly, the civilian population continues to pay a heavy price for the fighting that has been going on here for more than 35 years, and that it is the principal victim " , added Georges Cominos.

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