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ICRC calls on parties to respect international humanitarian law

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is very concerned about the humanitarian impact of the escalation of violence between Georgia and the breakaway region of South Ossetia.

"The humanitarian situation in the conflict zone has worsened dramatically," says the ICRC's head of delegation in Tbilisi, Dominique Liengme. "Ambulances are finding it hard to reach injured people and frightened residents are hiding in their basements, without electricity, water, communications or access to services."

The ICRC urges the parties to the conflict to allow humanitarian organizations unimpeded access to the affected areas and to enable medical personnel and ambulances to reach the sick and wounded.

In accordance with its mandate, the ICRC appeals to all those involved in the fighting to comply with international humanitarian law (IHL). In particular, they must distinguish at all times between the civilian population and those taking direct part in the hostilities. Attacks that are indiscriminate or directly target the civilian population are strictly prohibited under IHL. The wounded and sick are entitled to receive appropriate medical care. People who are not directly participating in the hostilities – including those who surrender or who are no longer capable of fighting because they are wounded, sick or have been captured – must not be attacked and must be treated humanely.

The ICRC is in contact with the parties involved in the hostilities and is working to obtain a clearer picture of the humanitarian situation. The organization has emergency medical stocks and water supplies to handle urgent needs. The ICRC has been in Georgia since 1992, supporting people who have suffered the consequences of conflict in the region.

[Source: ICRC, Tbilisi and Geneva, 11Aug08]

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The Question of South Ossetia
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