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Iraq: Violence continues to plague civilians

04-04-2007 News Release 07/46

Geneva / Baghdad (ICRC) - "Iraq is experiencing a major crisis," says Karl Mattli, who heads the delegation in Iraq of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

" Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis have been driven from their homes, dozens of civilians are being killed in daily attacks, and the country's health-care facilities are struggling to cope with mass-casualties. "

Recently Iraq has suffered numerous acts of violence that have caused hundreds of deaths. The ICRC is aiding civilians affected by the conflict – wounded, displaced or otherwise vulnerable people – in various parts of the country, despite difficulties gaining access to some areas. It regularly provides emergency aid for health-care facilities. Following a bomb explosion in Kirkuk on 1 April, for example, the ICRC sent surgical supplies to the Republican Hospital there for 100 victims requiring urgent treatment. In the past few days, medical supplies were also delivered to the hospital in Dohuk, the Imam Ali Hospital in Baghdad, and the hospital in Tal Afar, about 100 km north-west of Baghdad, where the bloodiest incidents of all occurred when car-bomb attacks against civilians were followed by acts of revenge, killing over 200 people in all. Working closely with the Iraqi Red Crescent Society, the ICRC is distributing aid to 250 families who were displaced following the incidents in Tal Afar.

Reportedly, chlorine has been used during recent attacks in Anbar, Baghdad and Ninawa governorates. Employing the toxic properties of chlorine to cause death or injury constitutes use of a chemical weapon and is therefore prohibited by international law.

The ICRC once again calls on all parties in Iraq to protect and spare civilians. It urges al l those who have influence on the ground to ensure that the civilian population has adequate access to vital services such as health care, water, food and electricity.

For further information, please contact:
  Dorothea Krimitsas, ICRC Geneva, tel: +41 22 730 25 90 or + 41 79 251 93 18
  Nada Doumani, ICRC Iraq, tel: + 962 777 39 96 14 or +964 662 27 28 50