Government urged to protect Iraqi civilians

Oxfam Community Aid Abroad today called upon the Australian government to publicly disclose how the Australian military will ensure that Iraqi civilians are protected in the coming war.
"Warring parties have obligations under international humanitarian law to protect Iraqi civilians from the conflict. We call upon the Australian Government to publicly give an explicit guarantee that Australian military forces will fully and unreservedly abide with these laws," said Mr. Andrew Hewett, Executive Director of Oxfam Community Aid Abroad.

International humanitarian law outlaws:

  • Indiscriminate attacks that do not distinguish between combatants and non-combatants
  • The targeting of water, electrical or transport infrastructure upon which Iraqi civilians depend upon for their survival
  • Military attacks which have a disproportionate effect on civilians. There is a high risk of civilians being trapped inside potential conflict areas such as major cities
  • The use of cluster bombs and landmines which by their very nature are indiscriminate.

Oxfam Community Aid Abroad also called upon the Australian Government to ensure that all of its allies in attack on Iraq also abide by International Humanitarian Law.

"We remain opposed to a military attack on Iraq," said Mr. Hewett. "We are fearful of the likely humanitarian impact. This impact can be reduced if all warring parties, including Australia abide by international humanitarian law."

To arrange an interview with Andrew Hewett or for further information, please contact Vicki Horne on 03 9289 9416 or 0419 563 788