Gabon: Red Cross volunteers maintain vigilance as country remain divided ahead of president’s inauguration

Published: 27 September 2016 19:03 CET

By Mirabelle Enaka Kima, IFRC

As Gabon swears in its incumbent president for a second term, staff and volunteers of Gabonese Red Cross Society are on high-alert, ready to provide emergency first-aid and relief should tensions break out into violence.

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) has allocated an additional 227, 000 Swiss francs from its Disaster Relief Emergency Fund, bringing the total funds released to 269,001 Swiss francs, enabling the Gabonese Red Cross to respond to the situation in the country. 

Following the announcement of the presidential election results in Gabon on 31 August, a series of violent clashes broke out in the country which led to the loss of lives, left many people injured, and state buildings and businesses were destroyed. 

The Gabonese Red Cross has been the main humanitarian organization responding  to the situation from the onset of the crisis, providing emergency assistance to people caught in the middle of the protests.

Dr Armel Boubindji, the Gabonese Red Cross Director General, played a key role in ensuring timely and appropriate  delivery of emergency services by Red Cross volunteers.

A medical practitioner himself, Dr Boubindji, joined his Red Cross teams in providing first aid assistance and seeing to the wounded, making sure that they are safely transported to the nearest medical centre.

 “Together with the IFRC’s Central Africa team, we provided refresher first aid and emergency response training to our volunteers and organized simulation activities, as part of our early preparedness measures and contingency planning,” said Dr Boubindji.

“The simulation exercises involved both Red Cross and civil protection teams,“ continued Dr Boubindji.

“These preparedness measures ensured that we were able to effectively act and provide timely assistance when the violence erupted. It also allowed us to manage situations where dialogue was necessary to reach people who have been wounded, particularly in high-risk and volatile areas in the towns of Libreville and Port-Gentil.”  

The IFRC office for Central Africa continues to support the Gabonese Red Cross Societyin delivering a robust response should the situation escalate.

 “While enabling our member National Societies to deliver life-saving services in times of crisis, the IFRC strives to strengthen their organizational and operational capacities. The Gabonese Red Cross is just one example of such collaboration  that has been put into practice in an outstanding manner,” said Andrei Engstrand- Neacsu, head of the IFRC office for Central Africa.