Red Cross and UN coordinator deplore attack on Myanmar volunteers

Professor Tha Hla Shwe, president of the Myanmar Red Cross. Photo: Myanmar Red Cross Society

The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement said it was deeply saddened to learn that two volunteers from the Myanmar Red Cross Society were wounded on February 17 when a convoy transporting displaced families came under fire, according to statement issued by the ICRC on February 18.

The eight vehicle convoy, which was marked with the Red Cross emblem, was evacuating civilians displaced by fighting in the Kokang region of northern Shan state.

One volunteer suffered head wounds and the other abdominal wounds. They were taken to Kunlong public hospital, where one of the volunteers underwent surgery overnight, and later transferred to Lashio hospital. Their medical condition is described as stable.

Professor Tha Hla Shwe, president of the Myanmar Red Cross, said: "It is very sad to hear that our Red Cross volunteers were wounded while carrying out a strictly humanitarian function to help the victims of this fighting. The volunteers and convoy were marked with the protective red cross emblem. They should be respected and not be the object of attack."

The Myanmar Red Cross is providing assistance to more than 3,000 people displaced by intense fighting that broke out in Shan state in early February, according to the ICRC. Large numbers of displaced families have arrived in Lashio, Pyin-Oo-Lwin and Mandalay.

In a separate message issued on February 19, the UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Myanmar, Mr Renata Dessallien, said she was saddened to hear of the attack on the Myanmar Red Cross Society convoy and the wounding of the two volunteers. She said an attack on humanitarian aid workers and on civilians is a violation of international humanitarian law.

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