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.
“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”
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.”