In Pictures - Burundi Red Cross volunteer responders

When pre-election violence broke out in Burundi in April 2015, volunteers with the Burundi Red Cross were among the first to respond. 

They continue to provide first aid, evacuate the injured to hospitals, and disinfect high-risk areas to help avoid the spread of disease.

Meet some of the more than 100 Burundi Red Cross volunteer emergency responders.

Burundi volunteer Jean Baptiste  

Jean Baptiste Niyungeko, 33, Operations cooridinator - joined Burundi Red Cross as a volunteer in 2002

My role is to coordinate the rescue operations of the injured people and manage the first aid centres in Bujumbura. I get my inspiration from the Fundamental Principles of the Red Cross. Humanity, Impartiality, Neutrality and Independence are the ones I value most because they enable us to be accepted and to perform our work.

A date that will forever remain engraved in my memory is 6 May 2015. A 15 year old boy died in my arms after being shot in the spine. He called for his mother, who arrived just a few minutes before he passed on.


Burundi volunteer Eddy Juste

Eddy-Juste Bitagoye, 40, in charge of Restoration of Family Links Services

We help reunite separated families after conflicts or other situations of violence. Currently, our volunteers are on stand-by in emergency support centres where people can come to seek help. I am a member of the National Disaster Response Team but I am also one of the rescue workers who provides help to injured people during the demonstrations.

For me, the Fundamental Principles act as a scorecard that gives us direction, thereby enabling us to be impartial in all that we do. The principles I value most are: Impartiality, Neutrality and Independence.


Burundi volunteer Leila

Leila Niyukuri, 27, volunteer rescue worker since 2008

What matters most to me is to contribute to the humanitarian response of the Red Cross and help vulnerable people in an impartial manner, without taking into consideration their social or political affiliation. For me, the most important principles are Impartiality and Neutrality. Impartiality helps us to relieve the suffering of individuals, being guided solely by their needs, and to give priority to the most urgent cases of distress. And Neutrality allows us to keep the trust of everyone.

In the course of one of our rescue operations, I had to rescue a boy burned with gasoline. He was in a lot of pain, his body covered with serious burns and his skin badly damaged. Seeing this young man in such a state gave me more strength to always undertake rescue operations with more courage and composure, whatever the circumstances.


Burundi volunteer Gacece

Sylvestre Gacece, 40, field emergency rescue worker - joined the Red Cross in 2004

Currently, I coordinate rescue operations in the emergency centres set up in the capital. I am in charge of the provision of first-aid services.

The Fundamental Principles act as my Bible in the relief operations. I mostly value Humanity, Impartiality and Neutrality because, for me, easing people’s suffering and saving human life are the very goals of our operations, which we undertake without any form of discrimination or partisanship.

I would like to share with you the story of a schoolboy in sixth grade who I found lying in shock in a ditch, suffering from head injuries he incurred during the violence. He was bleeding profusely. I managed to stop the bleeding and had him transferred to the hospital. When we met the following day, the young boy expressed his gratitude, telling his mother that if I had not been there, he would be dead.


Burundi volunteer Rusharika

Adrien Rusharika, 50, rescue driver

I started working for the Red Cross in 1998, first of all for IFRC before joining the Burundi Red Cross in 2006.

I am a recue driver in charge of transporting emergency volunteer rescuers to different first aid centres and, when necessary, evacuating seriously wounded victims. Being also a rescuer, I help to take care of the wounded in the streets while also ensuring the safety of pre-positioned relief supplies in operating the vehicle.