Central African Republic: Red Cross relief efforts hindered

09 October 2014

Bangui/Geneva (ICRC) – A new wave of violence has engulfed the capital Bangui, causing many casualties. In addition, houses and businesses have been ransacked and set on fire. The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement is calling for respect and protection for the lives and dignity of civilians.

Yesterday, Central African Red Cross volunteers and emergency services were subjected to direct threats, stemming from a misunderstanding by some people of their activities recovering bodies, thereby blocking their work.

During these very difficult times for the people in the capital, the Central African Red Cross, with support from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and other partners, is doing its utmost to recover the mortal remains of people killed in the violence, as no public services are in a position to do so, in order to ensure that the families will be able to bury the remains with proper respect and dignity and that rituals will be kept. The injured are being transferred to medical centres for treatment.

The Red Cross is extremely concerned about the threats that were made, which are hampering its emergency relief activities. This means that many victims throughout the capital are left to their fate. "It's truly regrettable that such actions can jeopardize any attempt to help the wounded," said Antoine Mbao Bogo, the national president of the Central African Red Cross.

The Red Cross is calling on all weapon bearers and on everyone directly participating in the violence to refrain from interfering with the impartial and neutral humanitarian work of its personnel. "Without security, we cannot do our work and save lives," said Jean-François Sangsue, the head of the ICRC delegation in Bangui. "The threats must stop. We are asking the population to facilitate the work of Red Cross volunteers. If the threats continue we will be obliged to cease all relief activities, leaving many victims to fend for themselves."

For further information, please contact:
Antoine Mbao Gobo, Central African Red Cross Society, tel: +236 70 02 09 09
Barthelemi Saouré, ICRC Bangui, tel: +236 75 27 25 79 or +236 72 69 81 87
Benoit Matsha-Carpentier, International Federation Geneva, tel: +41 79 213 24 13
Marie-Servane Desjonquères, ICRC Geneva, tel: +41 79 574 06 36