Geneva / Niamey — The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) took seven people wounded in the Ménaka area of northern Mali to hospital in Niger today. The patients are being treated in the capital Niamey.
The clashes between armed groups, which broke out in mid-November and are currently focused in the Ménaka area, have claimed many victims, including civilians. In its capacity as a neutral intermediary, the ICRC may be called upon to take other wounded people to hospital.
"Given the current circumstances, it's vital that a neutral, impartial humanitarian organization be able to evacuate the wounded," said Jean-Nicolas Marti, head of the ICRC's regional delegation for Mali and Niger. Five more war-wounded patients are currently receiving treatment at the ICRC-supported regional hospital in Gao, where the medical personnel are geared up to deal with any new arrivals.
"We treat everyone, without distinction, whether they are civilians or combatants," said Mr Marti. Getting access to health care is a real problem for people caught up in the violence in northern Mali. Gao hospital - the only referral facility for the whole of northern Mali - receives significant ICRC support. As well as assigning its surgical team to the hospital, the organization also provides medicines and other medical supplies to all the departments.
The ICRC is concerned about the events in northern Mali and reminds all those involved in the violence of their obligation to spare civilians, plus combatants who are no longer taking part in the hostilities.