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Red Cross delegate is killed in Senegal

Part of the ICRC's work in Senegal is improving health care.

(ICRC/Thierry Gassmann)

A Swiss-American delegate of the Swiss-run International Committee of the Red Cross has been killed in an accident involving a mine or unexploded ordnance in Senegal.

The Geneva-based ICRC said Jeannette Fournier, 50, died when the vehicle transporting her and three colleagues struck the object in the southern Casamance region.

Fournier had been conducting a survey of the needs of people displaced by armed clashes in the region along with the three when the incident happened on Friday north-west of Ziguinchor on a road frequently travelled by the ICRC.

One of the colleagues, a Ukrainian, was badly wounded in the incident, but his life was not in danger said Marco Jimenez, a spokesman for the ICRC.

The two other Red Cross workers, both Senegalese, received minor injuries, he said.

"It was most likely a mine," said Jimenez, as the region is littered with unexploded mines from fighting between soldiers from neighbouring Guinea-Bissau and Casamance militants, which ended in 2004.

A rebellion seeking independence for Casamance killed hundreds of people after it began in 1982.

However, mines continue to cause casualties and fresh fighting between the Senegalese army and dissidents have flared since August 17, not far from the border with Gambia.

The ICRC said Fournier had been working for the organisation since 1980 and had previously been posted to Thailand, Cambodia, Pakistan, Zimbabwe and Indonesia.

swissinfo with agencies

In brief

The ICRC has been present in Senegal since 1991. The organisation had 44 staff in 2005, including 40 locals.

After having assessed the situation in northern Casamance in June 2004, the ICRC launched an integrated assistance programme for the most hard-hit villages.

The programme's aim is to get agro-economic activity going again and to re-establish health care networks in the villages. Wells, the sources of life and health, are a key part of the programme.

As far as health care is concerned, the main focus is on refurbishing and re-opening maternity hospitals, health posts and health centres.

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