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ICRC concerned about the plight of civilians in Iraq

16-05-2005 News Release 05/26

Geneva/Baghdad - The ICRC expresses its deep concern about the recent escalation of violence resulting in very high numbers of civilian casualties in Iraq and civilians being caught in the midst of the fighting. In several attacks, including car bombs in Baghdad and in other places in Iraq, scores of civilians were killed.

At the same time, fighting such as in Al-Qa'im at the far west of Iraq, obliged hundreds of others, including women, children and elderly persons, to flee their home and take refuge in surrounding areas.

The ICRC urges all those involved in the fighting to respect the basic rules of international humanitarian law that are applicable in Iraq, including in particular rules contained in Article 3 common to the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and in customary international law. Rules relating to the conduct of hostilities include the following:

  • Attacks directed against civilians and acts or threats of violence aimed at spreading terror among the civilian population are prohibited.

  • Wounded fighters, friends or foes, and those who are captured or have surrendered must be treated humanely.

  • The wounded and sick must be collected and cared for without discrimination. Medical personnel and facilities must be respected and protected by all parties.

The ICRC calls upon all those involved in the fighting to take every feasible precaution to spare civilians and to ensure that the principles of distinction and proportionality are respected in all military operations.

As an impartial, neutral and independent organization whose mandate is to protect and assist victims of conflict and armed violence, the ICRC strives to respond to urgent humanitarian needs of people affected by the hostilities in Iraq. Though security conditions remain difficult and severely limit humanitarian endeavours, emergency assistance is provided by the ICR C. In Akachat, located in an isolated desert area near to Al-Qa'im, the ICRC in cooperation with the water board authorities is trucking 135 000 litre of fresh water per day to hundreds of displaced families. In the same desert region in the far west of the country, the Iraqi Red Crescent Society, with the support of the ICRC, started on 13 May 2005 to distribute relief items to the displaced families. Food and non food items have been distributed to roughly 200 families in Rawa, 250 families in Ana and 500 families in Akachat.

In Erbil, northern Iraq, following the bomb attack of 4 May 2005, the ICRC immediately donated medical and surgical materials to the local emergency hospital. The donated kit, which covered the needs of 100 surgical patients, consisted of dressing material, intravenous fluids, cannulas, X-rays and oxygen concentrators. Similar assistance was also provided to Hilla surgical hospital following a bomb attack at the end of February.

 For more information, please call:  

 Rana Sidani, ICRC Iraq (Amman), +962 777 399 416  

 Vincent Lusser; ICRC Geneva, +41 79 217 32 64