ICRC urges combattants in Libya to respect humanitarian law

19th March 2011, Comments 0 comments

The international Red Cross warned Saturday that civilians were at high risk amid combat in densely populated areas of Libya, and urged all parties to respect international humanitarian law during hostilities.

"As airstrikes in Libya by international forces begin, the ICRC calls upon all parties -- the international forces, the Libyan government forces, and the armed opposition -- to abide strictly by the rules and principles of international humanitarian law," said the ICRC in a statement.

The International Committee of the Red Cross pointed out in particular that attacks directly targetted at the civilian population are strictly banned and that the use of human shields is also prohibited by international law.

"The parties must take all precautions, including in their choice of means and methods of warfare, to avoid as far as possible harming civilians," stressed Yves Daccord, ICRC director-general.

Underlining its deep concern about the intensification of fighting in densely populated areas that is putting civilians at high risk, the ICRC also called on combattants to grant aid agencies safe access to reach the wounded.

A French warplane fired on Libyan military vehicle Saturday, in the first UN-mandated air strike aimed at protecting civilians.

© 2011 AFP

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