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Thailand: precarious security situation hinders medical evacuations

20-05-2010 Interview

While still unable to enter the affected parts of the city, the ICRC stands ready to facilitate medical care and act as a neutral intermediary. Christian Brunner heads the ICRC's delegation in Bangkok. As he explains, the ICRC is once again calling on all sides to observe humanitarian standards and to show respect for life.

   

©ICRC 
 
Christian Brunner 
     

 How would you describe the humanitarian situation in Bangkok today? How many people have been killed and injured since yesterday?  

People still fear for their lives in some parts of the city. Deaths and injuries are still occurring, and the security situation is preventing some of the injured from receiving prompt medical attention. It is important to remember that all casualties must have immediate access to medical care and that everybody must ensure that medical personnel and ambulances can reach the injured safely.

The ICRC has renewed its contacts with all concerned, both in order to gain access to the areas affected and in order to facilitate access to medical care, acting in our capacity of neutral intermediary. During last night's curfew, for instance, fighting was preventing ambulances from reaching seven people injured by the violence. The ICRC therefore spoke to the authorities and the emergency services to arrange safe passage for the ambulances, so that the medical teams could do their job without having to fear for their lives. As a result, all seven casualties are now receiving treatment in hospital.

However, we still do not have access to the areas directly affected by the violence. This means we have been unable to assess the situation or gather first-hand information. According to recent reports, people in these areas are coming under sniper fire. If this is indeed the case, such action will be putting everyone in danger, especially those in need of first aid. The ICRC is seriously concerned about these reports and once again calls upon everyone involved to respect the lives, safety and dignity of all.

 Reports indicate that many people were arrested yesterday and today, including red shirt leaders. How many people were arrested? Where are they being held?  

Latest media reports confirmed a number of arrests. The ICRC stands ready upon agreement with the authorities to carry on with its humanitarian work in places of detention and to visit everyone held in relation with the current violence. All over the world, the ICRC visits detainees to assess their treatment and conditions of detention, sharing its recommendations with the detaining authorities in the strictest confidence.