02 September 2004
The Russian Red Cross (RRC) volunteer psychologists and nurses are providing assistance to the parents and relatives of the hundreds of people being held hostage in a school in Beslan, a town in the Russian region of North Ossetia.
Armed fighters seized the school on Wednesday, taking children hostage, their parents and teachers. Some have been wounded in the incident. The exact number of hostages is unclear, but it could as many as 400. Some 16 people are reported to have died as a result of the attack.
"We are appealing to your human feelings," said RRC Secretary General E. Prazdinikov in an appeal to the hostage-takers. "No aim is worth the sacrifice of a human life. The children are innocent. They cannot and should not be used as a means of putting pressure on authorities or a means of achieving any aims," he added.
The local RRC branch in Beslan, headed by the chief doctor of the central district hospital, has been directly involved in providing assistance, while 25 psychologists and 60 nurses from the RRC have been mobilized and are providing assistance to distraught relatives.
The RRC has set-up an operational group at its headquarters in Moscow to coordinate Red Cross workers and volunteers and the distribution of humanitarian aid if necessary. In the North Ossetian capital, Vladikavkaz, the RRC has established a team to assist the hostages and their relatives.
Surgical materials, bandages and medicines have been sent to the Beslan central hospital by the Russian Red Cross and the International Committee of the Red Cross from Moscow.
Source: International Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies