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ICRC warns of humanitarian tragedy in Iraq

  |   March 26, 2003 at 6:52 AM
AMMAN, Jordan, March 26 (UPI) -- The International Committee of the Red Cross warned of a humanitarian and health catastrophe in Iraq as a result of the raging war and said it might evacuate its employees in Baghdad if banned weapons were used.

ICRC Spokesman in Amman Moein Kassis told United Press International ON Wednesday "there is great fear of an outbreak of diseases in Iraq."

He said the ICRC dispatched a medical team to the southern Iraqi city of Basra two days ago to provide emergency medical and humanitarian assistance and supply hospitals with badly-needed medical supplies.

Another ICRC team was also sent to Basra to try to fix the main water pumping station, using powers generators provided by the international organization.

He said the ICRC evacuated 27 workers from Iraq for security reasons, keeping only 10 employees who are backed by some 100 Iraqi volunteers.

He said the workers who were pulled out from Iraq were relocated in Jordan, Kuwait and Iran, joining an estimated 600 employees stationed in countries neighboring Iraq.

"The ICRC will evacuate all its employees from Iraq in case chemical and other banned weapons were used in military operation," Kassis said.

He said the Committee urged the U.S., Britain and Iraq to avoid hitting civilian targets and medical institutions and secure safe passage to humanitarian and medical staff displaying Red Cross badges and flags.

He also said the Committee urged the belligerents to respect the terms of the Geneva Convention regarding the treatment of prisoners of war.

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