Red Cross hopes to see allied captives

USA TODAY
February 1, 1991, Friday, FINAL EDITION
BYLINE: Tom Squitieri
SECTION: NEWS; Pg. 1A
LENGTH: 241 words

An International Red Cross convoy loaded with emergency medical supplies crossed into Iraq Thursday, raising hopes that Baghdad will grant access to allied POWs.

”They are there not only for the civilians but for the POWs,” says Red Cross spokeswoman Ann Stingle.

”All this is part of their mandate under the Geneva Conventions.”

The optimism came as the Red Cross issued a historic appeal for observance of the accords on treatment of POWs.

”One of the most disquieting aspects of this conflict is that the law of war … might be swept away by the political, military or propoganda demands of the moment,” says the Red Cross statement to be released today.

It continues: ”The wounded, whether civilian or military, and prisoners must receive special consideration and protection in compliance with” the Geneva Conventions.

When the war began, Iraq blocked the convoy, carrying 19 tons of medical and surgical supplies, from entering.

The Red Cross now has 11 delegates in Iraq, which will enable it ”to press for access to POWs,” says Stingle.

The mission was organized with the Iranian and Iraqi Red Crescent societies, the Muslim equivalent of the Red Cross.

The Red Cross has been rebuffed in efforts to visit allied POWs now being held as human shields. Seven U.S. soldiers are listed as POWs.

Red Cross officials have visited 98 Iraqi POWs held by allied forces in Saudi Arabia and 63 Iraqi detainees in Britain.