Red Cross and Red Crescent partners pay tribute to Myanmar Red Cross Society volunteer killed in rescue mission

Published: 10 August 2015 14:19 CET

By Patrick Fuller, IFRC

An estimated one million people have now been affected by the monsoon floods in Myanmar which continue to force thousands of people from their homes as they move southwards through the delta region of the country. Since the floods began more than 500 volunteers from the Myanmar Red Cross Society have been involved in evacuation and relief efforts but tragedy struck on 9 August when Myanmar Red Cross Society volunteer U Kyaw Kyaw Lyin died whilst helping members of his local community to escape the floods.

The 39-year-old father of two young children (aged 11 and 4) had been involved in a rescue mission in Mhawbe Township in the Yangon region. Having received a distress call from a group marooned in the nearby village of Ahtto Thaung, U Kyaw Kyaw and three other Red Cross volunteers set off in a boat from Thatyet Kone to rescue the villagers who had been sheltering for three days in a local monastery on the only high ground in the area.

Every day the floodwaters had been creeping higher and the monastery had become cut off. Having made it across the fast-flowing River Hlang, the team collected 20 people from the monastery – mostly women, children and elderly people – who boarded the boat with the few possessions they had managed to save.

They crossed back to safety, but just as everyone had disembarked the boat, the riverbank on which they were standing collapsed. U Kyaw Kyaw fell into the water and was swept away downstream by the strong current. A search and rescue effort was immediately launched using local boats, but no trace could be found of him.

“U Kyaw Kyaw devoted many years of service to the Red Cross, first joining as a volunteer in 1989. He was committed to working for the betterment of his community and his death is a tragedy for his family and friends, and a big loss to the Red Cross. He will be greatly missed,” said Professor Tha Hla Shwe, President of the Myanmar Red Cross Society.

Echoing these sentiments, Jagan Chapagain, Chief of Staff of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) said: “When a life is lost under such tragic circumstances, it is a stark reminder of the dangers that Red Cross and Red Crescent volunteers confront when carrying out humanitarian work. U Kyaw Kyaw will be remembered as someone who embodied the true humanitarian spirit and put others before himself.”



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