In June 2007, the Israeli authorities announced the suspension of family visits for Palestinians from Gaza who were being held in Israel. This decision, which was made a year after Palestinian armed groups captured the Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, deprives both the detainees and their relatives of an essential lifeline, and cuts detainees off from the outside world. In the past four years, over 700 families from Gaza have been prevented from seeing their detained relatives.
2010 to 2011 have seen a major series of crises which have affected ever increasing numbers of people. Demand for humanitarian assistance has reached an unprecedented level at a time when long term conflicts continue unabated, according to the ICRC's Annual Report launched in Geneva today (26th May 2011).
As a result of the recent and ongoing fighting in Libya, unexploded weapons left from the conflict are a major hazard for the country's civilian population. Unexploded ordnance and armoured vehicles, including rockets, shells and mortars, are strewn across public places and residential areas in Misrata, Ajdabiya and Benghazi. The risk for civilians is high.
More than thirty years of war and internal conflict in Iraq has left a legacy of despair. Millions of men and women are unable to care for themselves or their families because they have been severely disabled or have lost their main means of support. Despite the efforts of the government to provide social welfare programmes, many of these people do not get the support required to stay afloat.
Today the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) evacuated more than 600 civilians from the city in western Libya. This was the fourth rotation of an ICRC-chartered boat to evacuate mainly foreign nationals stranded in dire conditions. In total the ICRC evacuated more than 2300 civilians mainly from Niger, Chad, Mali, Ghana, Sudan, Egypt, Iraq, Syria, Tunisia, and Morocco, in addition to Libyan nationals.
Every day, thousands of litres of untreated wastewater are dumped into the Wadi Gaza River. The polluted water snakes through urban areas on its way to the sea, jeopardizing the health of the many families living on its banks, contaminating the coastline and endangering biodiversity. Sixteen sewage outfalls in the Gaza Strip lead directly to the sea.
At a press conference in Geneva (10.03.11), ICRC President Jakob Kellenberger urged all those involved in Libya's armed conflict to respect International Humanitarian Law and, in particular, to take all possible precautions to spare civilian lives.
Just attempting to live a normal life is still an everyday struggle for many Palestinians in the occupied West Bank. Particularly hard hit are communities living close to settlements or to the West Bank barrier, in areas under full Israeli civil and military control referred to as "Area C" (more than 50% of the West Bank), where Israeli-imposed restrictions are often preventing them from living a normal and dignified life.