Geneva / Bangui – The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is deeply concerned by intensifying violence in the Central African Republic. The organization calls upon all parties to the conflict, leaders of armed groups and individual fighters to respect human life and dignity, spare civilians and facilitate neutral, independent and impartial humanitarian action.
"Since the end of September dozens of people have been killed and hundreds more wounded in Bangui," said the regional director of ICRC operations in Africa, Patricia Danzi. "Several hundred sick children and pregnant women have been unable to reach clinics or maternity hospitals. Thousands of families are destitute, their homes having been burnt down and their livelihoods destroyed. They are living in a constant state of fear."
Clashes between armed groups, intercommunal violence and increasingly widespread crime are affecting every level of society in the Central African Republic, and the humanitarian situation is inexorably going downhill. "What's needed is swift and effective relief efforts, but staff from the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement are not always able to reach the wounded and other people who need their help," added Ms Danzi.
International humanitarian law prohibits any attacks directed against civilians and civilian property, such as houses, schools, medical facilities and places of worship. People who are sick, wounded or detained must be treated humanely. Health-care personnel must be protected, and the work of humanitarian workers must be facilitated in all circumstances.
"When humanitarian law and principles are not upheld, when access is hindered to the wounded and the sick, when families cannot bury their dead in accordance with the rites of their religion or traditions, when violence leads to vital humanitarian activities being suspended, humanity itself is flouted," concluded Ms Danzi.
For further information, please contact:
Germain Mwehu, ICRC Bangui, tel: +236 75 64 30 07
Claire Kaplun, ICRC Geneva, tel: +41 22 730 31 49 or +41 79 244 64 05