IFRC


Red Cross mourns the death of a volunteer in the Central African Republic

Published: 11 March 2014 16:12 CET

By Mirabelle Enaka Kima

Patrick Matede, a volunteer with the Central African Red Cross SocietyPatrick Matede, a first aid volunteer with the Central African Red Cross Society, was attacked and killed in his parents’ home Sunday night, not far from where he had been instrumental in providing assistance to families left homeless by the ongoing violence.

This morning is not a day like others at the Red Cross in Bangui. Sadness mingles with tears; a heavy silence pervades the headquarters as fellow volunteers learn of Patrick’s death.

A volunteer for more than five years, 36-year-old Pat, as he was known by his colleagues, was a devoted worker with the Red Cross local committee in the 8th district of Bangui. When violence broke out in the Central African Republic in December, Patrick was on the scene immediately, mobilized with other volunteers to help those affected by the fighting. “Patrick’s team nicknamed him the ‘father of orphans’. He was always ready to give advice to young people. He was open to everyone, and he was especially sensitive to the sufferings of the vulnerable,” said his wife Huguette. “I still do not believe that Patrick is dead. This is just like a nightmare to me,” she continued, while keeping her eyes focused on the couple’s two year old son. It is a look of compassion and helplessness, as she realizes the child will be deprived of his father’s protection.

“Patrick was a brave volunteer who loved serving others and working long hours without complaint. It is because of these qualities that he was part of the Red Cross distribution team at the Bangui airport site, where more than 70,000 people took refuge,” said Mounouyeda Michel, president of the Red Cross local committee to which Patrick belonged.

Patrick Matede’s death is but one in the indiscriminate violence that has overtaken the Central African Republic, where killing continues daily. Today, Bangui is gradually returning to life, the university has re-opened and people are going back to work. However, many have fled, including an estimated 34,000, to neighbouring countries and into temporary, overcrowded camps.

Today, the Central African Red Cross Society is one of the very few organizations operating in all areas of the country, supporting families and providing assistance on a neutral basis. But this is not enough and support needs to be urgently scaled up if the Red Cross is to be serious in its response.

"Help us to help our people,” pleads Antoine Mbao Bogo, president of the Central African Red Cross. “Our responsibility, in honour of people like Patrick who have lost their lives due to this violence, is to restore the lost dignity of Central Africans. We need to build a better future for our children.”

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies is supporting the Central African Red Cross Society in assisting 50,000 people affected by the violence through an emergency appeal. Interventions include promoting peacebuilding, and tackling gender-based violence through strengthened communication and advocacy efforts at national and community levels.




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