Red Cross: Iraqi Damage And Casualties

Red Cross International spokesperson Roland Hugeenin gives The Early Show
CBS/The Early Show
The Iraqis are saying there are more than 200 civilians who have been injured in the bombing by American or coalition forces -- a figure that seems accurate, according to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

Spokesman Roland Huguenin told The Early Show via telephone from Baghdad, "We have gone around the hospitals not with the purpose of putting our statistics but with the purpose of making sure that there would be enough surgical equipment to take care of casualties.

"So we do that around our hospital in Baghdad every morning and this figure seems accurate according to what we have been able to see personally."

President Bush has said the humanitarian aid effort is under way. So far, people are still surviving on the food they have prepared for themselves in Baghdad, said Huguenin, but if they war continues for much longer they will need the aid.

"People have received rations from the oil-for-food program over the past months and they will have to go on with that for the coming days," said the Swiss national.

A bigger concern is not food, but water.

"The city of Basra in the south is now deprived of electrical power, and as a consequence, has no access to water. And it is going to be 48 hours in an hour now, and no city can survive very long without access to water," Huguenin said.

"Now our main concern is that we gain access to the water station that is now separated by front line from Basra city, and we need to gain access for our engineers to be able to operate that station with backup generators as long as there is no power," he explained.

The ICRC currently has a core team of 10 expatriate and some 100 local staff working in Iraq. Once the security situation allows; an additional 25 expatriates who were relocated to neighboring countries in mid-March will reinforce this core team. A further 60 expatriate staff are ready to begin work in Iraq on short notice.

Huguenin said Iraqi people are most concerned about their own personal safety. "It is really right now a matter of being able to be safe and sitting out the war. But this is of course a very personal perception."

As for the safety of people from the Red Cross, Huguenin points out the bombings have not been in downtown Baghdad were their offices are located. "Of course, our offices are clearly identified with large flags. And the we provide maps of our locations for safety," he said.