Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Civilians without protection – The ever-worsening crisis in Iraq

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has published a report on the dire and deteriorating humanitarian situation in Iraq.

Geneva (ICRC) – In a report issued today in Geneva, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) expresses alarm about the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Iraq and calls for urgent action to better protect civilians against the continuing violence.

The report entitled Civilians without protection – The ever-worsening crisis in Iraq deplores the daily acts of violence such as shootings, bombings, abductions, murders and military operations that directly target Iraqi civilians in clear violation of international humanitarian law and other applicable legal standards. While it argues that the current crisis directly or indirectly affects all Iraqis, the report focuses on the problems of vulnerable groups such as the hundreds of thousands of Iraqis forced to flee their homes and the families that host them.

The report documents the alarming state of Iraqi health-care facilities suffering critical shortages of staff and supplies. Many doctors, nurses and patients no longer dare to go to hospitals and clinics because they are targeted or threatened. The report also underlines that much of Iraq's vital water, sewage and electricity infrastructure is in a critical condition owing to lack of maintenance and because security constraints have impeded repair work.

"The suffering that Iraqi men, women and children are enduring today is unbearable and unacceptable. Their lives and dignity are continuously under threat," said the ICRC's director of operations, Pierre Krähenbühl. "The ICRC calls on all those who can influence the situation on the ground to act now to ensure that the lives of ordinary people are spared and protected. This is an obligation under international humanitarian law for both States and non-State actors."

Their report can be downloaded from here