ICRC to pull out foreign workers

Foreign staff of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Baghdad are to be pulled out after Monday's devastating car bomb attack, but the organisation will seek to continue its work using local people.

    ICRC warned that military protection would increase risks

    The humanitarian agency said it was left with no choice after today's attack since the alternative, to seek military protection, would make it even more of a target for Iraqi resistance fighters.
     
    “We will begin tomorrow to fly out expatriate staff and then we'll see how we can continue our work with our Iraqi staff,” Pierre Gassmann, head of the ICRC delegation in the Iraqi capital said in an interview on the website of Germany's ARD public television.
     
    The ICRC has some 35 foreign staff in Iraq and 800 Iraqi workers, Gassmann said. 

    “If we decide to ask for military protection, we will be exactly where the enemy is seen - at the side of the coalition troops,” he said. 

    Simultaneous bombings

    “The people who did this are against everything foreign. They see no difference: everything that isn't Iraqi is lumped in with the occupying troops and fought”

    Pierre Gassmann,

    Head of the ICRC delegation in Baghdad

    The bombing at the ICRC office, which killed at least 12 people including two local staff, was one of a spate of almost simultaneous attacks across Baghdad that left 42 people dead and more than 200 injured, according to the latest hospital estimates.
     
    Gassmann said the strategy of trying to distance the organisation from the US-led troops occupying Iraq had failed.
     
    “The people who did this are against everything foreign. They see no difference: everything that isn't Iraqi is lumped in with the occupying troops and fought,” he said.
     
    Gassmann said the ICRC would remain on the spot but reduce its work, “for example on water supplies, help for hospitals, distributing medicines,” he added.
     
    Such tasks would likely now have to be taken on by Iraqi organisations, he said. “The problem is just that there isn't a civilian Iraqi administration yet that can fulfil such tasks.”

    SOURCE: AFP


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