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    ICRC marks 150 years of humanitarian mission

    KABUL (PAN): The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) on Sunday marked its 150th anniversary, commemorating the beginning of its efforts to bring relief to millions and improve the lives of countless conflict-affected people.

    In a statement, the humanitarian organisation reaffirmed it was more determined than ever to carry on with its mission At a time when people were suffering the agonies of war in Syria, Mali, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and elsewhere.

    Peter Maurer, president of the ICRC, said: "This anniversary provides us with an opportunity to look critically at our past, and also to develop awareness of the strengths that have helped us in our activities carried out for millions of victims of armed conflict and other violence.

    "Now more than ever, we must not only remain true to our principles but also search for new ways to better serve the people who need help. We must redouble our efforts to make sure that the neutral, impartial and independent nature of our humanitarian activities is understood by all," he added.

    Calling for better-coordinated humanitarian efforts, Maurer said the biggest challenge facing the ICRC and other humanitarian bodies was a lack of respect for international humanitarian law that prohibits violence against non-combatants, the wounded, sick and detainees.

    "When ICRC delegates visit detainees in Guantanamo, or facilitate the release of hostages in Colombia, or help people in Afghanistan obtain health care in safe conditions, or provide the maintenance and technical know-how that keep the water and electricity networks up and running in Goma, a city of half a million people, or push for a binding international treaty on cluster munitions, they have a direct and lasting impact on the lives of many people," he added.

    pr/mud