By Imogen Foulkes
BBC correspondent in Geneva


An ICRC spokesman made the comments in Geneva on his return from the Haitian capital, Port-au-Prince.


The ICRC has a large delegation in Haiti, despite the intervention of a US-led peacekeeping force in February.


The violence that preceded the overthrow of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide has calmed somewhat, but the ICRC says its mission is not complete.


Haiti suffered serious poverty and instability even before the most recent conflict.


That has not changed with the arrival of the peacekeeping force.


One of the ICRC’s main concerns is to support Haiti‘s hospitals. One of the ICRS’s main concerns is to protect Haiti’s hospitals.


During the fighting, there were shocking tales of patients being dragged from their beds by armed gangs.

This was not actually new then and has not necessarily stopped now, said Simon Pluess, the ICRC’s communications officer for Haiti.

There can be no medical assistance in hospitals if there is no security

Simon Pluess
ICRC’s communications officer for

“People wouldn’t dare to go to the hospital, or people would be arrested in the hospital – or there would be violent clashes,” he said.


“That’s why the ICRC has been saying all along in this crisis that there can be no medical assistance in hospitals if there is no security.


“For us, the message is that the relevant authorities do everything possible to ensure that hospitals can function properly.”


‘Open-ended future’


The ICRC also traditionally visits detainees in conflict zones.


In Haiti, a new police force and judicial system are barely functioning yet.


But some supporters of former President Aristide have already been arrested and the ICRC believes there will be more arrests.


When that happens, ICRC delegates will expect full access to the detainees.


Earlier this year, the ICRC appealed for over $4m to support its mission in Haiti.


That money is now almost gone and another appeal is expected in June.


Despite the arrival of the peacekeeping force, the ICRC says its future in Haiti is open-ended.