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A sad day for humanity

On 4 June three ICRC delegates were murdered in cold blood in Burundi. When this was followed by death threats to their colleagues who remained in the country, the organisation had no choice but to evacuate its expatriate staff and suspend all activities.

The ICRC was the only humanitarian agency providing continuous assistance to all the victims of the conflict, including in the most-troubled areas. At every opportunity it explained its role and its principles of neutral-ity and impartiality to all the warring parties. Officially, it enjoyed their full and unanimous support. How, then, can we explain this wilful act of barbarity directed against our representatives?

With killings escalating into full-scale massacres, a remorseless wave of hatred has swept across Burundi. The events of October and November 1993, when each of the two ethnic groups were in turn victim and executioner, set the seal on this tragedy. A truly genocidal mentality has since taken hold of many individuals who can see no way out of the crisis other than the complete physical elimination of the enemy, whether prisoner, patient, woman or child. This amounts to the total negation of everything international humanitarian law stands for. Rational and moderate people – most of the population – have been reduced to silence, for whoever dares challenge this murderous way of thinking is considered one of the enemy and treated as such. The ICRC learned this lesson quite painfully last June.

Throughout the Great Lakes region, the absence of a political solution has led to a general deterioration in security conditions. Assassinations, attacks and reprisals, laying of mines and ethnic cleansing have become the order of the day. Although the local people bear the brunt of the violence, the relief organisations have not emerged unscathed. In May and June, no less than 20 employees of different organisations – including three from the Federation – lost their lives in the North Kivu region.

Danielle Coquoz, Deputy Delegate
General for Africa, ICRC

 
 

Lives on the line

I feel so touched when I read a sorrowful article such as in Issue 1-1996 about my colleagues, brothers and fellow Red Cross volunteers who lost their lives to Ebola in the course of their humanitarian gesture.

It reminds me also of the late Susanne Buser and Sarah Veronica Leomy, the ICRC nurses who fell victim to an ambush in Sierra Leone on 27 August 1993. May God and the seven fundamental principles guide us in our work and give us all such courage in carrying out our humanitarian duties.

Alexander V. Davies
Sierra Leone Red Cross Volunteers
Waterloo, Sierra Leone

Died: in the line of duty

26 January A Federation local staff member, Herculano Tchipindi, was killed in Angola when unknown assailants attacked the vehicle in which he was travelling.

4 June Three ICRC delegates, Cédric Martin, Reto Neuenschwander and Juan Pastor Ruffino, died when the vehicle in which they were returning from a humanitarian mission in the northern province of Cibitoke, Burundi was fired upon in an ambush.

24 June Ugandan Red Cross relief worker Amin Booyi Andama was killed during a rebel attack on Koboko town in northern Uganda.

27 June Three workers from the Red Cross Society of the Republic of Zaire, Bahozi Kabuku, Kunga Sebastian and Mafuta Nzanganya, were killed when unidentified gunmen attacked a Federation supply depot near Goma in eastern Zaire. One Zairean UNHCR security guard also died in the attack and four people were injured.

27 June A Somali Red Crescent guard, Abdi Warsame Abdulle, died when a shell landed in the Norwegian Red Cross compound in South Mogadishu, Somalia.
24 July Sheikh Ali was killed during an attack on the Somali Red Crescent compound in South Mogadishu. His colleague, logistics officer Abdule Ahmed Ayaanle, died a few days later of injuries sustained in the attack.

7 September Two workers from the Zaire Red Cross, Aimé Amuli and Dieudonné Budogo, were killed when their bus hit a land mine near Goma in eastern Zaire. Their colleague, Djuma Sebasore, died a few days later of his injuries.

Pen pals

I am an American Red Cross Disaster Services worker from the Rhode Island chapter. I am a certified Emergency Relief Vehicle technician and Disaster Action Team member and I am interested in meeting other Red Cross and Red Crescent workers from the USA and around the world. I would like to swap stories, anecdotes, Red Cross life, etc., with anyone interested.

Steven Pechie
19 Rhode Island Street
Cranston, RI 02920, USA

Please publish my address in the next issue of your magazine so that any brothers and sisters who are interested can write to me to exchange ideas and experiences.

Maxime Blèwoussi Amouzouvie
B.P. 13.182, Lomé, Togo

 


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