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Madagascar: humanitarian situation gives cause for concern

28-01-2009 Interview

Following peaceful anti-government demonstrations last week, violence broke out on Monday in the Madagascan capital Antananarivo. The Malagasy Red Cross Society has been treating the wounded. ICRC head of mission Olivier Gillabert describes the current situation.


  Olivier Gillabert    
     What is the situation on the streets of Antananarivo in humanitarian terms?  


According to local media reports, the violence that affected all parts of the capital on Monday and Tuesday caused around 30 deaths, plus looting and fires. The curfew imposed by the police and armed forces meant that Tuesday night was quieter. There has been no more looting or fires since yesterday evening. We are following the situation closely in concertation with the Malagasy Red Cross Society, and we are very concerned about the consequences of the violence in humanitarian terms. The violence has spread to most of the other large towns, and local media report that approximately 30 more people have died outside the capital.


 What are the most urgent needs?  

In Antananarivo, the most urgent needs are to evacuate people injured during the demonstrations, give them first aid and ensure that the Red Cross can get through to them at all times.

Volunteers from the Malagasy Red Cross Society have been doing exemplary work ever since the crisis started. They are in urgent need of first aid materials, stretchers and medical supplies, so they can continue to stabilize the injured and evacuate them to health centres.


 What are the ICRC and the Malagasy Red Cross Society doing?  

The ICRC is supporting the Malagasy Red Cross Society’s first-aid work, primarily in the areas of logistics and finance.

About 30 volunteers, first-aiders and doctors of the Malagasy Red Cross Society have been at work since 26 Jan uary. On the 26th, they went into action near Anosipatrana, an area of Antananarivo where the demonstrations were particularly violent. They helped dozens of people who had been injured and gave on-the-spot care to those who were not so badly injured as to require immediate evacuation.

The Malagasy Red Cross Society remains on alert, and we are monitoring the situation closely. Volunteers are ready to respond if new disturbances break out. In addition to volunteers, the Malagasy Red Cross Society has three ambulances, plus a lorry in Antananarivo that it can use for evacuations. The ICRC will continue to support the Malagasy Red Cross Society during the crisis.