Volunteers attacked while carrying out humanitarian work in Myanmar

Published: 23 February 2015 15:23 CET

In the last week three volunteers of the Myanmar Red Cross have been wounded in two separate attacks when they were evacuating civilians from the town of Laukkai in the Kokang region of northern Shan state. Fighting recently erupted between government forces and rebel factions.

On 17 February 2015, two volunteers were seriously wounded when the eight-vehicle convoy they were travelling in came under fire on the road between Laukkai and Chinshwehal. Barely four days later on 21 February, another Myanmar Red Cross volunteer and four other people suffered injuries when a truck transporting 13 civilians was attacked just 400 yards from the site of the earlier incident.

“It is sad to hear that our Red Cross volunteers were wounded while carrying out a strictly humanitarian function to help the victims of this fighting. The volunteers and convoy were travelling in vehicles clearly marked with the protective red cross. They should be respected and not be the subject of such an attack,” said Professor Tha Hla Shwe, President of the society.

The wounded volunteers were transferred to Kunlong Hospital to receive emergency treatment. The victims of the first attack suffered head wounds and abdominal injuries and one of the volunteers underwent surgery overnight before being transferred to Lashio hospital. The victims of the second attack suffered broken limbs and minor injuries. All of them are in a stable condition and they are now recovering in hospital.

“It is unacceptable,” Jagan Chapagain, Director of the IFRC’s Asia Pacific Office, said. “The passengers were all non-combatants; Red Cross volunteers, journalists and civilians. People who should be protected, not targeted.”

To date, the Myanmar Red Cross Society has been assisting more than 7,000 people who have been displaced by intense fighting in north-eastern Shan State. With 500-800 people arriving in Lashio each day to escape the violence, Red Cross volunteers have been deployed to provide first aid and provide blood donation services. The volunteers are also distributing household items and family kits to displaced families at designated camps.

In response to the first attack, the Myanmar Red Cross Society, along with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) issued a joint statement calling upon all parties involved in the fighting to respect the work of the Red Cross and guarantee the safety of aid workers and their unimpeded, immediate access to people in need of humanitarian assistance. Furthermore, the Movement called upon all parties to refrain from targeting civilian areas.

Press release

International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement deplores attack in which Myanmar Red Cross volunteers were injured

18 February 2015, Yangon/ Kuala Lumpur/ Geneva – The International Red Cross and Red Crescent...