Red Cross condemns killing of personnel working to stop the spread of Ebola

Published: 20 September 2014

On 16 September, a group of armed men attacked a delegation of Ebola-control personnel, including government, medical, media and Red Cross staff, as they worked in the community of Woméï, in south-eastern Guinea. Seven members of the delegation were killed, including health workers, local officials and journalists. Two remain missing. A local branch official from the Red Cross Society of Guinea was seriously injured in the attack.

Attacks such as these – born of frustration and fear over the disease – are not acceptable. The Red Cross calls on governments and communities to respect and protect humanitarian and health personnel working to reduce the impact of this disease and to prevent it from spreading further. All actions that hamper the work of those responding to this epidemic – including attacks on staff and volunteers, and violent protests and insecurity in Liberia and Sierra Leone – prevent entire communities from getting the help they need.

Ebola patients need urgent medical attention and their families need monitoring and support to reduce the spread of the virus. In communities where vital work has not been able to take place, cases of Ebola have risen, increasing the impact of the disease and amplifying its spread across the region. It is only with full engagement with – and support of – affected communities that we can continue to provide education services to reduce the chances of catching this disease, health care, dead body management to prevent infection, and contact tracing to reduce the chance of infection spreading more widely.

Communities in West Africa have a vital role to play in the battle against this horrific disease, which has so far affected more than 5,000 people and killed more than half of them. The Red Cross’ strength is that our staff and volunteers come from within the affected communities; they are an important link between communities and the international workers who provide additional skills and expertise that improve the effectiveness of our response. Governments can also play a role by supporting our work and ensuring the safety of local and international workers.

It is only by working together at all levels that we will have any impact on the spread of the Ebola virus disease.

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is the worlds largest volunteer-based humanitarian network, reaching 150 million people each year through its 189 member National Societies. Together, IFRC acts before, during and after disasters and health emergencies to meet the needs and improve the lives of vulnerable people. It does so with impartiality as to nationality, race, gender, religious beliefs, class and political opinions. For more information, please visit www.ifrc.org. You can also connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Flickr.

For more information please contact:

In Conakry:

Gwen Eamer, Ebola response regional communications delegate, IFRC

Mobile: +224 623 629 459, E-mail: gwen.eamer@ifrc.org

In Freetown:

Katherine Mueller, communications manager, IFRC Africa

Mobile: +232 79 24 13 75

In Geneva:

Benoit Carpentier, team leader, public communications, IFRC
Mobile: +41 79 213 2413, E-mail benoit.carpentier@ifrc.org

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