Reference : V-P-CH-E-00753
Date : 31/03/2011
Caption : Geneva, ICRC Headquarters.Press conference about the Côte d'Ivoire situation. Portrait of ICRC Director of Operations, Pierre Kraehenbuehl.
Photographer : GASSMANN, Thierry
Person appearing :
KRAEHENBUEHL, Pierre (director of operations, ICRC)
Confidentiality level : public
Publication restrictions : publication without restrictions
Copyright : ICRC
Description : 31-03-2011 News Release 11/77Geneva/Abidjan (ICRC) - With the armed conflict between pro-Gbagbo and pro-Ouattara forces and armed groups spreading and the humanitarian situation deteriorating day by day, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is launching an appeal today to bring aid to the hundreds of thousands of victims in Côte d'Ivoire and in neighbouring Liberia.

The organization is requesting an additional 15 million Swiss francs (approximately 16.2 million US dollars, or 11.5 million euros) for victims within Côte d'Ivoire, especially in Abidjan and in the west, and 5.5 million francs (5.9 million dollars, or 4.2 million euros) for Ivorian refugees in Liberia and the communities hosting them.

"For some weeks now, the humanitarian situation in Côte d'Ivoire has been steadily deteriorating. The country is now in the throes of a full-fledged internal armed conflict," said Pierre Krähenbühl, the ICRC's director of operations. "Tens of thousands of people are fleeing the fighting and the looting. Most of them find refuge with families, but thousands of others, who are in schools, churches, mosques and other public buildings serving as makeshift reception centres, lack everything: food, emergency supplies, medicines, shelter, clean drinking water... The vast majority of refugees and other displaced people are constantly on the move, which makes it especially difficult to organize relief, and also to estimate their numbers."

"We watch with great concern as the fighting and looting draw ever closer to Abidjan, which has already been hard hit by the conflict," added Mr Krähenbühl. "The stocks of medicines are running out, as are the stocks of chemicals needed to treat water. Wounded people are unable to make their way to hospitals owing to security concerns. Health-care centres are being forced to close because their staff cannot get to work in safety."

The ICRC and the Red Cross Society of Côte d'Ivoire are among the few humanitarian agencies able to carry out their work. "It is vital that we continue to be able to bring aid to those who need it most, and we are making a new appeal to the parties to the conflict to facilitate the movements of our teams," said Mr Krähenbühl. "Thanks mainly to our neutrality, our independence and the concrete assistance we provide for the victims, we are generally well accepted in the field by the authorities and by the many people bearing weapons, with whom we are constantly developing contacts. But nothing can ever be taken for granted in a context where security is more and more volatile."

"The parties to the conflict must distinguish between military objectives and civilians not taking part in hostilities, especially when fighting takes place in towns. Only military targets may be attacked," insisted the ICRC director of operations. "Under international humanitarian law, the wounded and sick must be cared for, and medical facilities, ambulances and personnel must be respected and protected. In addition, all those detained must be treated humanely."
Original material : digital
Resolution : 4256x2832
Orientation : landscape
Colour/B&W : colour