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IRAQ - Oct. 27 - Red Cross Review.

The Int'l Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) says it is reassessing its operations in Iraq after the suicide attack outside its Baghdad HQ. But ICRC spokeswoman Nada Doumani tells reporters: "We believe we have to stay here because we do have an important job to do here for the Iraqis". ICRC headquarters in Geneva says."We will be re-evaluating the security conditions in Iraq. But our priority today is to deal with the immediate consequences of this terrible attack, especially for the families of the victims. It's too early to take decisions on our eventual reponse". As well as the two who died, several ICRC staff, including one expatriate, received minor injuries in the blast, and at least 15 passers-by were also wounded. The ICRC reduced its expatriate staff in late July after one of its workers was killed, and did so again after the bombing of the UN headquarters in Baghdad in August. ICRC currently has 14 expatriate staff in Baghdad and 30-40 in Iraq as a whole, compared with 130 in mid-July. About 600 Iraqis also work with the ICRC, which has been present in the country since 1980 in the early days of the Iran-Iraq war. It is not clear how many Iraqi nationals were at ICRC headquarters during the Oct. 27 attack but the agency says it was fewer than normal due to the beginning of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. The attack was an especially tough blow because the ICRC had worked very hard to convince Iraqis of its neutrality and independence. The all-Swiss ICRC was the only large international agency to keep expatriate staff in Baghdad during the 2003 war, when it gave vital support to hospitals treating the wounded including the maintenance of water and power supplies. Since the end of formal hostilities, the ICRC has focused on visits to prisoners of war and civilian detainees, among them senior officials of the former Baathist regime, as well as its other humanitarian work. Last month the US military said the coalition forces were holding about 10,000 detainees, including some 300 POWs, 5,300 people accused of civil or criminal offences, and about 4,400 being held on security grounds. Other ICRC priorities in Iraq include the provision of materials and drugs in medical emergencies, a drive to raise awareness of the dangers of unexploded ordnance, and help to strengthen the resources and capacity of the Iraqi Red Crescent Society.
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Publication:APS Diplomat Recorder
Geographic Code:7IRAQ
Date:Nov 1, 2003
Words:408
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