Bolivia: Humanitarian action amid massive demonstrations

A tense climate has developed in Bolivia over the past three weeks as large demonstrations and roadblocks have paralyzed the capital, La Paz.

In the midst of the crisis, the ICRC and the Bolivian Red Cross have endeavoured to keep open the lines of communication with the demonstrators so as to be able to perform their humanitarian tasks.

One of the first steps taken by the Bolivian Red Cross, at the request of the Ministry of Health and with ICRC support, was to transport a large consignment of vaccinations for children, along with other supplies, to La Paz from the international airport in the nearby city of El Alto. A representative from the El Alto workers' union allowed the two Red Cross vehicles carrying the goods to make their way through the streets blocked off by demonstrators.

Various means of communication, especially radio, have been repeatedly used to urge people to respect the red cross emblem and humanitarian workers.

The Bolivian Red Cross remains on the alert and ready to provide emergency assistance, with ICRC support, in the event of clashes between the demonstrators and public security forces.

For further information, please contact:

Dafne Martos, ICRC, Lima, tel.: ++ 51 1 241 99 04
Annick Bouvier, ICRC, Geneva, tel.: ++41 22 730 24 58 or ++41 79 217 32 24