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Heavy clashes in Somalia: ICRC calls for protection of civilians

22-12-2006 News Release 06/146

Geneva (ICRC) – The armed clashes that broke out earlier this week around the town of Baidoa, 250 km northwest of the capital Mogadishu, have claimed dozens of lives and driven many civilians from their homes.

Hospitals and other medical facilities in the region have received at least 200 wounded since Wednesday.The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has supplied all medical facilities treating the injured with first-aid kits and surgical materials.

" We are very concerned about the plight of civilians who might get caught up in the fighting, " said Pascal Hundt, head of the ICRC's Somalia delegation. " We call on all parties involved in the clashes to spare and protect civilians and to take every precaution when conducting military operations. "

The ICRC also urges the parties to the conflict to take all necessary measures to ensure that wounded and captured fighters are protected and receive treatment and that medical staff, hospitals and clinics are spared from attacks.

The ICRC is one of the few humanitarian organizations active in Somalia. It distributes relief to more than 500,000 people displaced by the protracted conflict and implements over 300 water, health and agricultural projects each year. In central and southern Somalia the ICRC supports various medical facilities, including three hospitals in Mogadishu and 23 clinics run by the Somali Red Crescent Society. It provides these facilities with surgical equipment, medicines and training for doctors and nurses. It also helps to reunite families separated by the conflict.

The ICRC has been carrying out humanitarian activities in Somalia since 1977, with a current total of 54 staff including 17 expatriates.

For further information, please contact:
  Pédram Yazdi, ICRC Somalia (in Nairobi), tel: +254 20 2723 963 or +254 722 51 81 42
  Nicole Engelbrecht, ICRC Nairobi, tel: +254 20 2723 963 or mobile +254 722 51 27 28
  Claudia McGoldrick, ICRC Geneva, tel: +41 22 730 2063 or +41 79 217 3216