ICRC raises concern over situation in northern Mali
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has drawn international attention to the seriousness of the situation in northern Mali and the plight of civilians, as 40 casualties are being treated in hospital from this week’s violence in the city of Gao.
“The ICRC is very concerned about the current situation in northern Mali.” It reminds all involved in the armed violence of the need to respect the civilian population and the wounded,” an ICRC statement said on Thursday.
Media reports on Wednesday said the rift among Mali’s various rebel groups in the north has deepened, with the Islamist forces reportedly seizing the town of Gao, after clashes with the MNLA rebels.
According to the ICRC, earlier street protests and the fighting between the rival rebel groups in Gao resulted in many casualties.
Some 41 people with bullet wounds were admitted to the city's hospital, which the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has been supporting since April, the ICRC said.
"The medical personnel were able to cope with the sudden influx of casualties and are ready for any eventuality that may arise." said Susanna Cristofani, the ICRC's medical coordinator for Mali and Niger.
The hospital, which was looted at the beginning of April, has been up and running again for several weeks and the ICRC said it was providing it with medicines and with surgical and other medical supplies, making sure it has electricity and clean drinking water, and paying the allowances of the 124 health-care staff.
"We have also made available to the hospital a surgeon, two other doctors, two nurses and a midwife," said Cristofani.
ICRC said one of those taken to hospital in Gao had to be transferred to Niamey, in neighbouring Niger, for a specialized operation.
The Red Cross did not say who the person was, but reports had earlier said a senior official of the MNLA rebel group that has been flushed out of Gao was wounded and taken to a neighbouring country.