Kuala Lumpur/Yangon/Geneva, 5 March 2021 – The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is deeply saddened by recent loss of life in Myanmar and is urging immediate protection for all Red Cross volunteers and health workers.
Alexander Matheou, IFRC’s Asia Pacific Regional Director, said:
“Amid the spiralling violence, the Myanmar Red Cross has confirmed that over recent days, there have been very serious incidents where Red Cross volunteers were injured and wrongfully arrested. Red Cross ambulances have also been damaged.
“We express profound sadness that Myanmar Red Cross volunteers have been injured while on duty providing lifesaving first aid treatment to wounded people, in line with fundamental principles of humanity, neutrality and impartiality. Red Cross volunteers should never be targeted.”
The Myanmar Red Cross has mounted one of its largest ever first aid and patient transfer humanitarian operations with more than 1,500 volunteers and 120 ambulances in action across the whole country. In the past four weeks, the Myanmar Red Cross has provided first aid services, including some lifesaving interventions, as well as emergency ambulance transfers. In all, the Red Cross has helped more than 1,000 people.
Mr Matheou said: “There is escalating violence and the number of people killed or injured is rising each day. The IFRC urges restraint and a halt to violence across Myanmar.”
Amid the mass gatherings and violence over recent weeks, the IFRC is also very concerned about the risk that COVID-19 may be spreading unabated in areas of Myanmar.
“The IFRC is alarmed about the risks of another deadly wave of COVID-19 in Myanmar as testing and access to hospitals or other health services is very limited,” said Mr Matheou.
IFRC and other International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement partners continue to support Myanmar Red Cross in all its humanitarian endeavours at this critical time.
Myanmar: Complex emergency
Humanitarian needs in Myanmar have continued to escalate due to a third wave of COVID-19 in 2021 and to ongoing political unrest since Myanmar’s military intervention in February 2021. Through this Emergency Appeal, revised in April 2022, the IFRC continues to support the Myanmar Red Cross to provide essential humanitarian assistance to the most vulnerable people across 14 states and regions. Support includes emergency first aid and ambulance services, basic health care, livelihoods support, and in-kind assistance to address basic needs.