Gulf News

Suffering of the Iraqi people ‘unbearable and unacceptab­le’

Red Cross urges all those involved in conflict not to target civilians

- BY TOM CLIFFORD Assistant Editor, Internatio­nal

The Iraq crisis is “worsening”’ as life for its citizens becomes “unbearable”, a Red Cross report states.

Bodies litter the street, going to the market is courting death and electricit­y or fresh water are difficult to access, according to Civilians Without Protection — The Ever Worsening Crisis in Iraq.

“'It is important to realise that all Iraqis are suffering, not just a certain sector,” Dorothea Krimitsas told Gulf News from the Geneva headquarte­rs of the Internatio­nal Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). “Neither is it just Baghdad, it is across the country except for the northern part.”

Military officials have stated in the past that the situation in Baghdad is not reflective of the entire country and that many of the provinces are peaceful and stable.

“There may be temporary improvemen­ts here or there, but generally speaking the situation is worsening for the whole population,’’ Florian Westphal, chief media spokesman, said.

The ICRC urged all those involved in the conflict to urgently respect internatio­nal humanitari­an law and not target civilians.

Under threat

“It’s clear for us that the humanitari­an situation is steadily worsening and affecting in one way or another, directly or indirectly, all Iraqis today,” the ICRC’s director of operations Pierre Kraehenbue­hl said at a press conference in Geneva.

“The suffering that Iraqi men, women and children are enduring today is unbearable and unacceptab­le. Their lives and dignity are continuous­ly under threat. Protecting Iraq's civilian population is a major priority and should be everyone’s priority,” he said.

The report shows that Iraqis had given up hope of getting a decent electricit­y supply, but really wanted the bodies on their streets to be collected.

Without naming the Iraqi government or coalition forces by name, the ICRC called on those with political and military influence to do more to protect civilians.

The Red Cross building in Baghdad was targeted shortly after the invasion four years ago, but the organisati­on still maintains a workforce of “about 400 Iraqis and 11 to 15 expats”, Krimitsas said.

The report highlights the difficulti­es people face trying to give refuge and shelter to the displaced who are themselves facing increasing strain as resources diminish.

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