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groong: Funeral for Canadian Red Cross Delegate Killed in Iraq in Montreal

Canadian Press

Saturday, April 26, 2003

MONTREAL (CP) – Funeral services were held Saturday for a Canadian delegate
to the International Committee of the Red Cross who was killed in Baghdad
during the war on Iraq.

Vatche Arslanian died April 8 when the vehicle he was travelling in with
other members of his delegation was caught in crossfire. He was 48.

Arslanian, a resident of Oromocto, N.B., was one of two Canadian volunteers
who were part of a group of six ICRC delegates who remained in Iraq once the
war began, said Luc Dumoulin, logistical director for the Middle East at ICRC
headquarters in Geneva.

The other Canadian was a Calgary woman that Dumoulin could not identify.

The ICRC had a group of 35 delegates in Iraq prior to the war.

Dumoulin said he heard that Arslanian’s group was involved in an incident in
Baghdad as they were dropping a colleague off at home after delivering
medical supplies to various hospitals, and that Arslanian had been injured.

“Because of the lack of security in Baghdad at the time, and because night
was falling as well, we couldn’t go in,” Dumoulin said in an interview.

“So we had a very difficult night, we were devastated because we didn’t know
what really happened.”

He only found out the next day, once that area of Baghdad had been declared
secure, that Arslanian was dead.

“They were all volunteers who knew there were risks,” Dumoulin said. “The
death of Vatche was devastating to all of us, but I think that with the needs
of the region and with Vatche’s attitude about his work we were encouraged to
stay the course and not abandon the work we were doing there.”

Dumoulin said there is a lot of work left to be done in Iraq.

“Everything needs to be reconstructed, including the health system,
electrical systems, water filtration plants, schools,” he said. “Everything
needs to be rebuilt. For us, the most pressing needs are medical supplies and

Arslanian, a Canadian of Armenian origin, was born in Syria in 1955.

He received a degree in political science from the University of Montreal and
he served as a city councillor and as deputy mayor in Oromocto for a short

He had been a volunteer for the Red Cross since 1991, and he took an active
role in 1999 when 1,000 Kosovo refugees were put up at Canadian Forces Base
Gagetown in New Brunswick.

Arslanian’s first mission for the Red Cross was to the Republic of Georgia in
2000, and he went to Baghdad once before in July, 2001.

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