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Middle East
Iraq situation 'ever worsening'
Red Cross operations director says overall picture in Iraq is "steadily deteriorating".
Last Modified: 11 Apr 2007 14:08 GMT

Kraehenbuehl: It is often too dangerous for Red Cross workers to move around Baghdad [AP]

The situation for civilians in Iraq is "ever worsening", the International Committee of the Red Cross says.

 

Although it is difficult to determine the numbers of people killed in shootings, bombings and military operations, it is clear that the overall situation in the country has been steadily deteriorating, an official said on Wednesday.

Pierre Kraehenbuehl, the operations director at the International Committee of the Red Cross, (ICRC) said: "Numbers of refugees are swelling, medical staff fleeing and other problems are growing.
 
The central region remains greatly affected, despite US-led efforts to secure the capital."
Humanitarian crisis
 
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Kraehenbuehl was speaking in Geneva, Switzerland, to mark the release of a new ICRC report titled Civilians Without Protection: The ever-worsening humanitarian crisis in Iraq.
 
He said: "Whatever operation that is today under way, and that may be taken tomorrow and in the weeks after, to improve the security of civilians on the ground may have an effect in the medium term.
 
"We're certainly not seeing an immediate effect in terms of stabilisation for civilians currently. That is not our reading."
 
He said it was dangerous for Red Cross workers to move around in Baghdad, but admitted that "we don't have on a day-to-day basis a full picture of absolutely every situation".
 
Living in fear
 
Kraehenbuehl said the worsening security situation was causing "overlapping effects" of hardship for the civilian population, with medical care deteriorating as doctors flee the country.
 
The Iraqi health ministry estimates that half of the country's doctors have left, he said.
 
In addition, he said, many injured people do not even seek out medical treatment as they do not wish to leave their families for fear of either being kidnapped en route or in hospital, or leaving their relatives in a vulnerable situation.
 
Kraehenbuehl said: "The suffering that Iraqi men, women and children are enduring today is unbearable and unacceptable.
 
"Their lives and dignity are continuously under threat."
 
"Much more has to be done" by all parties, including US and other foreign troops, to improve the situation and ensure that civilians' rights are respected, he said.
 
Source:
Agencies
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