As part of the campaign, a destroyed ambulance will be touring the country for the next three weeks
Photo: Sofia Mikton
On 28 June, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) will begin its #NotATarget campaign in Luxembourg in an effort to raise awareness about medical personnel working in conflict zones who all too often become targets of violent attacks. As part of the campaign, a destroyed ambulance will be touring the country for the next three weeks.
Last year alone, the Red Cross reported 1,200 attacks on medical personnel and medical centers in just 16 countries. This comes after a 2016 UN Security Council adoption of a resolution ensuring the respect and safety of aid workers in conflict zones. With resolutions such as these proving difficult to enforce, the Red Cross continues to explore alternative solutions.
In the heart of conflict zones, measures are being taken to increase security, provide medical workers with flame-proof uniforms, and label ambulances more clearly to avoid attacks conducted out of uncertainty. Outside conflict zones, awareness and fundraising campaigns are being carried out as means to help finance such measures, and to garner greater support and attention towards the cause.
The presence of this campaign in a place like Luxembourg, which hasn’t been a conflict zone for a long time, does serve a significant purpose, according to Ariane Bauer, operations coordinator for the Middle East at the ICRC. “I think it’s extremely important for people to have a perspective of what is happening in conflict zones, even though our countries are luckily at peace.” For campaign organizers, they hope that by seeing an ambulance with bullet holes, burn marks and broken windows in person, and understanding that this isn’t an exaggerated image, this perspective can be gained.
The Red Cross continues to draw in dedicated medical volunteers from around the world, despite the safety risks involved. Bauer says, “we work very carefully to preserve as much as possible the security and integrity of our staff in the field, but the personal motivation of our staff and colleagues can often not be trumped by violence.” Many volunteers are motivated by their own lived experiences as well. “We have more and more personnel who have lived or grown up themselves in wartorn countries, who work for us as international staff. For those who have not, I think there is a genuine interest and sense of personal mission.”