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New Red Cross field reports: POWs, Basra

[JURIST] The International Committee of the Red Cross [advocacy website] issued new Iraq field reports Monday concerning POWs, the humanitarian situation in Basra, and other matters. On POWs:

The ICRC has established contacts with a view to gaining access to prisoners of war (POWs). There has been a lot of interest in the issue of POWs being shown on Iraqi television: it should be noted that Iraqi POWs had already been shown on various TV channels on 22 March. The ICRC draws attention to the relevant passage of Article 13 of the Third Geneva Convention: "...prisoners of war must at all times be protected, particularly against acts of violence or intimidation and against insults and public curiosity." It is important to point out that: a) the dignity of POWs should be protected and b) account should be taken of the impact these images could have on their families. Other important issues concerning POWs – especially their security and access to medical care – also have to be considered. The ICRC's current priority is that POWs be protected and kept in a safe place.
On Basra:
Situation described as tense and difficult. The ICRC has no current figures on casualties. The total electricity blackout caused by the destruction of high-voltage cables in the hostilities continues. Following a temporary total breakdown, 40% of the population now have access to water thanks to emergency measures taken on 22 March by the ICRC and local engineers. However, this water is not of sufficiently good quality to be used in the long term.
Read the complete text of Monday's ICRC field reports.

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