ICRC News Release No. 08/20
4 February 2008
Chad: ICRC and local Red Cross staff on alert in the capital
Geneva/N’Djamena – The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) took advantage of a lull in the fighting in N’Djamena today to try to ascertain the number of wounded and the state of the city’s medical facilities. “It now seems certain that several hundred wounded people have made their way to hospital”, said Thomas Merkelbach, head of the ICRC’s delegation in Chad. “Of course we are worried about the inhabitants of the city and about our friends, colleagues, neighbours and partners”, he added. An ICRC surgical team started work in the Hôpital de la Liberté towards the end of this morning.
In view of the severity of this weekend’s clashes between the armed opposition and Chad government forces, ICRC staff had to limit their movements to a strict minimum. The Red Cross of Chad nevertheless mobilized a hundred volunteers in medical facilities treating the wounded while others patrolled the various districts of the city in ambulances whenever a lull in the fighting allowed. They transferred over 200 patients to the Hôpital de la Liberté and the medical centre in the south of N’Djamena where Doctors without Borders (France) has been working.
Fighting and looting has been going on since Sunday and the situation remains unstable. The main shopping street, avenue Charles de Gaulle, has been severely affected. The Mosquée district, where Chad national radio has its headquarters, and the Bololo district appear to be the worst hit.
The ICRC is especially worried about civilians in the zones affected by fighting and about the wounded. It calls upon all parties to the conflict to honour their obligation to distinguish between civilians and people participating directly in the hostilities, and to spare the civilian population and civilian property. So far, Red Cross and other medical services have been largely respected. However, the ICRC reminds all parties to the conflict of their duty to spare and protect medical staff and facilities under all circumstances and to facilitate their work.