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ICRC President visits Baghdad

05-05-2003 News Release 03/29

Geneva (ICRC) - The President of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Jakob Kellenberger, arrived in Baghdad today aboard an ICRC aircraft. During his stay in the Iraqi capital, Mr Kellenberger will visit medical facilities and water treatment installations to get a first-hand impression of the situation on the ground.

" I wanted to come to Baghdad to personally thank our staff in Iraq for their courage and determination during an extremely difficult period, " explained the ICRC President. " By distributing medical supplies and carrying out emergency repairs at hospitals and water installations, they supported the Iraqi medical and technical staff in their tireless life-saving efforts. "

Mr Kellenberger is due to meet ICRC personnel in Baghdad this morning. He will also take part in a ceremony in memory of Vatche Arslanian, an ICRC delegate killed on 8 April during the fighting in Baghdad. There are currently some 450 ICRC employees, including 60 international staff, in Baghdad, Basra, Erbil, Dohuk and Sulaymaniya.

The ICRC President also plans to meet Jay Garner, Head of the United States'Office for Reconstruction and Humanitarian Affairs, to discuss the present situation in Iraq, its legal implications and the role of the ICRC as an independent humanitarian organization.

Over the coming months, the ICRC, with its partners from the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, will endeavour to protect and assist the people affected by the conflict and its consequences. The ICRC will also continue to support hospitals and water/sanitation facilities. The ICRC has been active in Iraq since 1980.

 Further information:  

 Tamara Al Rifai, ICRC Geneva, tel.: ++ 41 22 730 27 56 / ++ 41 79 244 64 14  

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

 Nada Doumani, ICRC Baghdad, tel.: ++ 873 761 845 610