Deadly attacks on Red Cross and Red Crescent workers in the Middle East

April 8, 2015


On a typical day, several Red Cross/Red Crescent workers in the Middle East may lose their lives while trying to save others. On the 3rd of April for instance, two brothers working for the local branch of the Yemen Red Crescent Society were shot dead in the southern port city of Aden while evacuating wounded people to a waiting ambulance.

The brothers Bahuzaim were both wearing the red crescent emblem, which should have ensured their protection. Earlier that day, two Syrian Arab Red Crescent volunteers, Ibrahim Eid and Mohamad Ahmad Kamouaa, were killed while carrying out their duties. They were retrieving dead bodies and preparing shelters for people fleeing the fighting in the city of Idlib in North-Western Syria.

In a joint statement of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) quote Robert Mardini (ICRC) who said: “In Yemen we are seeing Red Crescent volunteers being deliberately killed as they strive to save others. This is a very worrying trend and a tragic loss.”

“Under no circumstances should aid workers come under attack. Yemen Red Crescent volunteers are working tirelessly to meet growing humanitarian needs under extreme circumstances. They must not be targeted for doing this job. We call for an immediate stop to these attacks,” said Elias Ghanem, director of the IFRC Middle East and North Africa region. “In Syria, 42 Syrian Arab Red Crescent and eight Palestine Red Crescent volunteers have now lost their lives since the beginning of the conflict, all of them killed while carrying out their humanitarian duties. This is outrageous and unacceptable.”

The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement once again calls upon all parties involved in the conflict in Syria to respect its humanitarian work and guarantee the safety of aid workers and their unimpeded, immediate access to people in need across the country. Without that respect for humanitarian workers, ambulances and health facilities, it will become close to impossible to continue saving lives and providing much-needed assistance to millions of Syrians.

All parties to conflict are obliged under international humanitarian law to respect medical neutrality and to grant medical personnel, equipment and vehicles safe passage. It is strictly prohibited to attack the staff and volunteers of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, and all aid workers whose sole purpose is to provide humanitarian relief in emergencies.

Source (website ICRC)