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Democratic Republic of the Congo: Civilians in danger

29-08-2013 News Release 13/145

Geneva/Kinshasa (ICRC) – The ICRC is extremely concerned at the shelling of residential areas in Goma (eastern DRC) and Gyseni (Rwanda). Clashes also continue in Nyiragongo, Rutshuru and other parts of Nord-Kivu.

"Shelling densely-populated areas is particularly reprehensible," said Rachel Bernhard, head of the ICRC's sub-delegation in Goma. "We remind all involved that international humanitarian law prohibits attacks on anything except identified military objectives, and that civilians and civilian objects must be protected."

Parties to the conflict must always make a distinction between civilians on the one hand and members of armed groups and the armed forces on the other. Anyone who is not taking a direct part in hostilities, or who has ceased to do so, must be respected and protected. The sick and injured must be collected and treated, whether they are civilians or members of the armed forces, and no adverse distinction may be made between them. They must receive the medical care that their condition demands. Furthermore, the physical well-being and the dignity of people deprived of their liberty must be preserved.

"We are continuing discussions with all parties to the conflict, reminding them of their obligation to comply with international humanitarian law and to take all necessary measures and precautions to protect civilians," added Ms Bernhard.

An ICRC surgical team is working closely with Congolese personnel at Ndosho Hospital in Goma. The ICRC has supplied medicines, dressings, plasma substitutes, suture material and other medical supplies to Katindo Military Hospital, also in Goma. ICRC field teams outside Goma continue to deliver food and water to the most isolated of the communities affected, including a number of communities in the Masisi area.

For further information, please contact:
Annick Bouvier, ICRC Kinshasa, tel: +243 81 700 85 36
Thomas Glass, ICRC Goma, tel: +243 81 700 77 86
David-Pierre Marquet, ICRC Geneva, tel: +41 22 730 2502 or +41 79 536 9248