28 December 2012

Central African Republic: Sparing Civilians Indispensable

press release

As armed groups continue their advance on Bangui, the capital of the Central African Republic, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is working closely with the Central African Red Cross Society to help people driven from their homes by the fighting.

"The fighting hasn't yet reached Bangui," said Georgios Georgantas, head of the ICRC delegation in the country. "But obviously the people living here are very concerned.

We call on all the parties to the conflict to spare civilians and their property and to guarantee access for humanitarian organizations. As a neutral, impartial and independent intermediary, the ICRC is maintaining contact with all armed entities."

The ICRC was aware of several areas near towns to which many people had fled, Mr Georgantas said. Other people had sought refuge in the bush.

The organization is working with the Central African Red Cross to provide displaced people with water, sanitary facilities and other necessities. Meanwhile, the ICRC is preparing to survey rural areas to gauge the needs of people who have fled there. It will move to assist them as soon as conditions permit.

The ICRC is now continuing its work in the country with 14 foreign and 200 Central African staff. As a security precaution, eight staff members were transferred on Thursday to Yaoundé, Cameroon.

Over the past week, the ICRC has done the following:

Working closely with National Society volunteers, the organization supplied 200,000 litres of drinking water to over 1,000 displaced people gathered in the northern town of Ndele between the airport and the Catholic mission. Delegates also distributed 500 jerrycans to enable displaced people in rural areas to carry clean water.

Eight latrines were built for displaced people living near Ndele airport and meetings were organized at which National Society volunteers gave tips on maintaining adequate hygiene.

To alleviate the food shortage, the Catholic mission received 150 kg of rice, 30 litres of cooking oil, and five kg of salt as ingredients for a group meal.

Some 250 square metres of shelter were put up for people living near Ndele airport.

Kits were furnished to equip six first-aid teams in the Kaga-Bandoro area.

All parties to the conflict were urged to spare the civilian population and to respect international humanitarian law.

Efforts were made to restore family links broken by the fighting. For example, a three-year-old girl was reunited with her family in Kaga-Bandoro, while two wounded combatants and one captured combatant were returned to their families. Meanwhile, 39 Red Cross messages (brief personal messages) were collected and 23 delivered.

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