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Somalia: attack on medical graduation ceremony takes heavy toll on civilians

04-12-2009 News Release 09/245

Nairobi/Geneva (ICRC) – The ICRC and the Somali Red Crescent Society (SRCS) are deeply shocked by the attack in Mogadishu on a graduation ceremony for students from Banadir University.

Yesterday's attack left over 20 dead and at least 60 wounded. The victims included several doctors, medical teaching staff and newly-graduated students. Medical personnel are vital to Somalia’s already over-stretched health facilities.

" The ICRC and the Somali Red Crescent Society are deeply concerned about the plight of civilians caught up in the fighting, " said Pascal Mauchle, head of the ICRC’s Somalia delegation. " This incident shows once again how important it is to protect medical personnel in armed conflict. "

The ICRC and the SRCS call on all warring parties to comply with the rules of international humanitarian law, and in particular to distinguish between civilians and civilian objects on the one hand, and persons taking a direct part in hostilities and military objectives on the other. Attacks may be directed only against persons taking a direct part in hostilities and against military objectives, and warring parties must spare the civilian population and civilian objects at all times. Finally, parties to the conflict must respect and protect medical personnel, medical units and vehicles exclusively assigned to medical duties. This obligation applies under all circumstances.

For further information, please contact:
  Pedram Yazdi, ICRC Somalia, tel: +254 20 272 3963 or +254 722 518 142
  Nicole Engelbrecht, ICRC Nairobi, tel: +254 20 272 3963 or + 254 722 512 728
  Carla Haddad Mardini, ICRC Geneva, tel: +41 22 730 24 05 or +41 79 217 32 26
  See also our interview with the director of Medina Hospital in Mogadishu (May 2009)