Myanmar: Aid for people hit by inter-communal violence
03-04-2013 Operational Update
Violence that erupted on 20 March in Meikhtila, in the centre of the country, has driven some 10,000 people from their homes. Scores more have been killed or injured.
The Myanmar Red Cross Society, supported by the ICRC, has started distributing relief supplies in an effort to meet the most urgent needs. So far, some 10,000 people have received aid.
"We are deeply concerned about the recent outbreak of inter-communal violence in Meikhtila and the growing tensions throughout the country," said Tha Hla Shwe, president of the Myanmar Red Cross. "It is crucial that we work with full impartiality. The fact that our volunteers belong to both communities facilitates our access to those in need and fosters acceptance by the population."
Soon after the violence broke out, the Myanmar Red Cross launched a relief operation with ICRC support. People suffering the effects of the clashes have received tarpaulins, hygiene items, blankets and mosquito nets. The injured have been given first aid and the most serious cases taken to hospital.
The Myanmar Red Cross has three dozen volunteers working in and around Meikhtila, while the ICRC, which has had staff in the area since 22 March, has been providing telecommunication and logistical support. "Safe and well" phone calls made using Red Cross equipment have helped people get back in touch with their relatives.
"The ICRC is helping the Myanmar Red Cross Society to respond to this emergency," said Georges Paclisanu, who heads the ICRC delegation in Yangon. "We both have experience helping individuals and communities affected by violence. And we both are determined to continue to work closely together to help those in need."
The two organizations have also been working together in Rakhine state, in the west of the country, since June of last year. They are providing first aid and carrying out emergency medical evacuations for the victims of inter-communal violence there. In addition, they are supplying clean water and improving sanitary facilities in camps housing displaced people. The ICRC is also upgrading medical facilities and working to restore access to health care in several townships, in cooperation with the authorities, health-care personnel and the communities concerned.