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Nepal: Red Cross emblem must be respected

24-09-2003 News Release 03/65

Kathmandu (NRCS) / Geneva (ICRC) – The Nepal Red Cross Society (NRCS) and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) are concerned about an incident on 18 September involving an NRCS ambulance travelling from Pokhara to Lumle to pick up a patient. The vehicle was stopped by unidentified armed persons and then set ablaze.

The ambulance was clearly marked with the red cross emblem. In armed conflicts, personnel, facilities and vehicles displaying this emblem enjoy the protection accorded by the Geneva Conventions to medical services operated by the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement. The parties to the conflict must respect the emblem in all circumstances, and thus never attack an ambulance. Any such act jeopardizes the protection to which sick and wounded people are entitled and which is one of the most basic principles of international humanitarian law.

Both the NRCS and the ICRC are committed to ensuring that all wounded and sick people have access to medical care. The NRCS operates its ambulance service from 61 posts throughout the country. They must be able to move unobstructed and securely at all times.

The NRCS and the ICRC remind all parties to the conflict that the universally accepted rules of humanitarian law must be complied with. In particular, the red cross emblem – a visible manifestation of those rules – must be respected and the transport of sick and wounded people facilitated.

 Further information:  

 Bijay Dahal, NRCS, tel. +9771 4272761 or +9771 4270650  

 Nicolas Bachmann, ICRC Kathmandu, tel. +9771 9810 34638