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Sudan: Attack on ICRC house in Darfur

08-12-2006 News Release 06/140

Unidentified armed men last night attempted to force their way into a house used by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) as a staff residence in Kutum, Northern Darfur.

Unable to break the locks, the men fired several shots into the house, which was clearly marked as an ICRC building. The two staff members inside were unhurt and were able to contact colleagues in a nearby house, who raised the alarm.

As a result of the attack, the ICRC has temporarily relocated its 10 expatriate staff in Kutum to El Fasher, together with a delegate from the Spanish Red Cross. In their absence, the Kutum office will be manned by locally hired ICRC staff.

The motive for the attack, which occurred shortly after midnight, is not known. The local authorities have been informed and are investigating the incident.

The organization's Kutum office was opened in 2004. Its expatriate staff and 41 locally hired personnel work to support two local health clinics, to improve water supplies in camps for displaced people and in remote rural villages, to ensure that people affected by the conflict receive the protection due to them under international humanitarian law, and to help people find and stay in touch with loved ones by means of Red Cross messages (brief personal messages to relatives made otherwise unreachable by armed conflict).

The ICRC's field surgical team has been sent to Northern Darfur more than a dozen times since July to provide emergency medical treatment for combatants from both sides wounded in the ongoing clashes, as well as to civilians caught up in the fighting.

Last night's attack jeopardizes vital humanitarian action. The ICRC strongly condemns it.

For further information, please contact:
  Jessica Barry, ICRC Khartoum, tel +249 9121 70576
  Marco Yuri Jiménez Rodríguez, ICRC Geneva, tel +41 79 217 3217