Red Cross volunteers in action following election violence

Publicado: 1 septiembre 2016 15:36 CET

By Mirabelle Enaka Kima, IFRC

Violent protests continue in many towns across Gabon, including the capital, following the recent presidential election.

As part of a contingency plan developed by the Gabonese Red Cross Society to respond to potential civil unrest, 110 volunteers were mobilized and deployed to provide assistance to people injured in the protests.

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) had allocated 42,000 Swiss francs from its Disaster Relief Emergency Fund to enable pre-election training and simulation exercises for 2,000 volunteers and Civil Protection staff.

“Thanks to the provision of emergency relief equipment such as first aid kits and community tents, our intervention was well organized,” said Dr Armel Boubindji, Director General of the Gabonese Red Cross Society. “We have been monitoring the situation, and deployed teams of trained first aid volunteers to polling centres in high risk areas to provide assistance to voters.” 

With technical support and coordination with other Movement partners provided by the IFRC Central Africa office in neighbouring Cameroon, the National Society was well placed to respond when violence erupted.

“On the frontline in Libreville and Port-Gentil, where clashes were particularly violent, Red Cross volunteers also transported the injured to the nearest healthcare centres through the night,” added Andrei Engstrand-Neacsu, head of the IFRC office in Central Africa.

In many instances, the Red Cross was the only responder on-site, a testament to its Fundamental Principles, particularly that of neutrality.

“Our intervention teams continue to provide assistance in this particularly chaotic context,” said Dr Boubindji. “The Red Cross is accepted by the population, and we haven’t encountered any resistance. Nevertheless, we do ask our teams to maintain a high level of vigilance, as their safety is our prime concern.”