Red Cross says US strikes in Iraq and Syria compound humanitarian plight

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said on Friday that U.S.-led air strikes on Islamist insurgents in Iraq and Syria had worsened a dire humanitarian crisis on the ground.

All warring parties in the widening conflicts in the two countries should spare civilians and allow delivery of aid, the Geneva-based ICRC said in a statement. “Under international humanitarian law, every party to these conflicts must refrain from harming civilians, must protect medical personnel and facilities, and must allow humanitarian workers to bring help,” said Dominik Stillhart, the ICRC director of operations.

The independent agency is the guardian of the Geneva Conventions that lay down the rules of war, primarily aimed at protecting civilians caught up in armed conflicts. The treaties require all sides to spare civilians, be proportionate in their military operations, distinguish between civilian and combatants and between military targets and civilian structures such as schools and hospitals.

“The law also includes the obligation to respect and protect civilians and people who are not currently participating in hostilities, such as the sick, the wounded and those who have been detained. Everyone must treat these people with humanity and preserve their dignity,” said Stillhart.

[Reuters]

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