Gabon: On the front lines of the Red Cross response to post-election violence

Published: 4 September 2016 10:20 CET

By Mirabelle Enaka Kima, IFRC

Dielvic Mbadinga is a driver with the Gabonese Red Cross and, for the past few days, has found himself on the frontlines of the Red Cross response to post-election violence in his country.

As a member of the National Disaster Response Team who is trained in first aid, the 31-year-old was deployed, along with more than 100 other volunteers, to provide assistance to communities during the Gabon presidential elections.

A volunteer for the past 14 years, Dielvic is now spending long hours transporting intervention teams to the field and taking injured protesters to healthcare centres for treatment.

Positioned in his ambulance every morning, Dielvic does not show any sign of tiredness or stress. “My job is challenging,” says Dielvic. “I left my family ten days ago to join the rest of the team at the Red Cross headquarters in Libreville where a base was established to ease interventions in the field. Though we are faced with regular stops at barricades during our interventions, I keep calm and remain focused to avoid putting our lives at risk. We use each of the stops at the barricades as an opportunity to explain our mission and the assistance we are providing to communities.”

Traumatizing images

As many other volunteers deployed for this operation, Dielvic has also gone through difficult moments which he considers part of the sacrifice he makes as a volunteer. “Seeing dead bodies in the street is always traumatizing. But as a volunteer, it is my duty to continue doing my work in order to save many other lives.”

Results from the national election give a narrow victory to the incumbent, sparking protests across the country which have left a reported 15 people dead and more than 100 injured.

As a preparedness measure, the Gabonese Red Cross, using Disaster Relief Emergency Funds provided by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), and, with the support of the IFRC sub-regional office in Cameroon, trained teams of volunteers before the election, and has since deployed them to provide first aid and to transport the seriously injured to health care facilities.