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Civilians 'Bear the Brunt of War'

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Villagers pass Philippine government troops hunting Muslim rebels in the hinterlands of Piagapoon the southern Philippine island of Mindanao in March. A Red Cross survey of eight war-torn countries has found that more than half of the civilians polled were forced to flee their homes -- while in Afghanistan and Liberia torture was a common experience. (AFP/File/Cherryl Vergeire)

Civilians bear the brunt of modern conflict, a report by the International Committee of the Red Cross suggests.

The report, called "Our world, views from the field" asked 4,000 civilians from eight countries to relate their personal experiences of war.

Of those, 44% said they had witnessed armed conflict first hand and one in three had seen a relative killed.

The countries were Afghanistan, Georgia, Haiti, Liberia, DR Congo, Colombia, Lebanon and the Philippines.

More than half - 56% - said they had been forced to leave their homes and almost half had lost contact with a loved one.

The research was commissioned to mark the 150th anniversary of an event that became the inspiration for the founding of the Red Cross movement.

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Henri Dunant founded the organisation after witnessing the dead and dying soldiers at the battle of Solferino during the Italian wars of independence.

The fighting in 1859 caused 40,000 military casualties but only one civilian death.

Today, says Red Cross director of operations, Pierre Krähenbuhl, civilians are the chief sufferers in war.

The report also suggests that most civilians caught up in war turn first to relatives or friends for help, a sign, the ICRC says, that more needs to be done to support those carers.

 

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