Practice Relating to Rule 55. Access for Humanitarian Relief to Civilians in Need
Switzerland’s Basic Military Manual (1987) provides that, in a territory temporarily occupied by foreign troops, “civilians shall have every facility for making application to the Protecting Powers, the International Committee of the Red Cross, the national Red Cross Society of the country where they may be, as well as to any organization that might assist them”.
If the civilian population is not adequately provided with food supplies, international humanitarian law provides that relief actions which are humanitarian, impartial and non-discriminatory shall be undertaken, subject to the consent of the parties concerned. It also requires States to allow and facilitate rapid and unimpeded access of relief consignments. Civilians
have the right to turn to any organisation that could come to their aid. Despite this, humanitarian organisations often have no access to Civilians
in need of assistance and protection in Armed conflicts
, either because the parties to the conflict refuse permission, or because of geographical or logistical difficulties, bureaucratic obstacles or security considerations.