We at the Irish Red Cross are shocked and distressed by the deaths of hundreds of civilians and eight aid workers from the Mexican and Nigerian Red Cross in the last three days.
Two Mexican Red Cross paramedics in Ixtapaluca on 14 January. Norma Angélica Vázquez Becerril and Virginia Hernández Garduño were murdered by armed gunmen while carrying out their humanitarian duties in the area.
Violence is a daily reality for millions of people across the Americas, a region that is home to 43 of the 50 most dangerous cities in the world. Urban violence often disrupts humanitarian work, especially for health workers who risk their lives trying to help those most in need.
Six more Red Cross workers died following an airstrike on the town of Rann, near the border of Nigeria and Cameroon. The six were in Rann as part of a humanitarian operation bringing food to more than 25,000 displaced people.
Hours after Tuesday’s airstrike, a Red Cross surgical team deployed to Rann, while another team in Maiduguri prepared to support the Ministry of Health in receiving casualties. The team in Rann triaged around 100 patients, while nine patients in a critical condition were evacuated by helicopter to Maiduguri. Around 90 patients remain in Rann, out of whom 46 are severely injured and need to be evacuated to Maiduguri as a matter of urgency. Patients are attended to in an open-air space in a precarious environment.
The Irish Red Cross and the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement extends its heartfelt condolences to the families of Norma Angélica Vázquez Becerril and Virginia Hernández Garduño, as well as to volunteers, staff and members of the Mexican Red Cross. As well as the families of all those killed or injured in Nigeria, including those affiliated to the Médecins Sans Frontières.
The Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement reminds all that aid workers must be able to operate safely and be allowed to deliver vital assistance where it is needed, without fear of losing their lives. Parties to the conflict must comply with their obligations under international humanitarian law to ensure that civilians are not affected by the hostilities.