Red Crescent volunteers praised for neutral approach to first aid and medical support during 25 January commemorations

Published: 10 February 2015 14:00 CET

By Soraya Dali-Balta, IFRC

The commemoration of the 25 January 2011 events in Egypt took a bloody turn this year, as more than 25 people were killed in clashes across the country and dozens others were reportedly wounded.

The Egyptian Red Crescent Society mobilized teams, volunteers and equipment in the days leading up to the event, and had ordered the deployment of several specialised units in the country’s public squares, and in several neighbourhoods in the capital, where people were expected to gather to mark the fourth anniversary of 25 January 2011.

The National Society deployed 50 Emergency Response Units in Cairo and other governorates, and asked 17 additional units to be present at the headquarters in the capital in the early morning hours of 25 January.

In the Cairo governorate, Emergency Response Units were deployed in the neighbourhoods of Nasr City, Heliopolis, Abbasiya, Ramsis, Abdul Mona’em Riyad, Al Quba, Al Sawah, Shubra, Al Mathallat, Al Amiriyya, in downtown Cairo and in Al Matariya, where the fiercest clashes took place. Other Red Crescent teams were readied to provide first-aid services and assistance to persons participating in the anniversary events or to those who were negatively affected by the events.

The society also mobilized the necessary equipment to transport the wounded, in addition to protective masks to shield from tear gas and wireless communication devices to coordinate movement and intervention strategies during the commemoration.

On the day itself, more than 600 gatherings took place in Egypt, the majority of which were held in the capital Cairo. In many places, clashes broke out leaving 25 people dead and dozens others wounded.

Egyptian Red Crescent Society volunteers managed to provide health-related services to 148 people including those suffering from the effects of tear gas, fainting, and heart attacks.

Working under the Fundamental Principles of Neutrality and Impartiality, volunteers provided first-aid services to all those who were injured during the unrest without discrimination based on a political or ideological affiliation.

“Emergency Response Units were deployed in all Cairo’s squares and fully abided by our principles while on duty,” the report said, stressing the importance of the seven Fundamental Principles of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement.

The Secretary General of the society, Dr Moamena Kamel, said: “Emergency Response Units were capable of gaining the respect and the trust of all parties, and this can be traced to the strong training programme we provide and which enabled them to adopt a professional approach during emergencies and to alleviate the suffering of all wounded people regardless of any political, religious or ethnic considerations.”

“I appreciate and value the efforts of each and every Egyptian Red Crescent Society volunteer in their pursuit to protect the lives of citizens,” Dr Kamel added.