Austrian Red Cross worker shot whilst on duty
Johann Dorfwirth was shot whilst on duty on 17 September 2013.
The Red Cross EU Office would like to express its sincere condolences on learning of the death of Austrian Red Cross paramedic, Johann Dorfwirth, who was shot whilst on duty in Lower Austria on 17 September 2013. "It is especially shocking for a Red Cross worker to be targeted and to pay the ultimate price while carrying out his humanitarian duty trying to help others. Our thoughts are with Johan's family and friends, with his local branch staff and volunteers, and with everybody at the Austrian Red Cross at this difficult time. We wish them all the strength to cope with this terrible loss", said Leon Prop, Director, Red Cross EU Office.
Member of an Austrian Red Cross crisis intervention team, Mr Dorfwirth was fatally wounded while assisting a policeman who had been shot by a fleeing gunman near the town of Annaberg. Seventy-year old Johann had been an active member of the Austrian Red Cross for 32 years. He was director of the Red Cross Annaberg branch and had received numerous awards for his actions in emergency operations.
The Red Cross EU Office strongly condemns any form of violence against healthcare and aid workers such as Johann Dorfwirth, particularly while they are on duty. This tragic event highlights the risks taken by members of Red Cross staff when trying to assist those in need, and the deeply worrying trend that sees healthcare workers being attacked in situations of violence. This very sad event is an unfortunate reminder of the protection that healthcare an aid workers deserve.
Beside impeding people from receiving the care they need, these acts are illegal under international law, when applicable. A concerted effort (using diplomatic, legal and other means) is required to raise awareness of the human cost of violence against health-care workers and to foster a culture of collective responsibility.
Violence against patients and health-care workers is one of the most crucial yet overlooked humanitarian issues today. The Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement runs a global campaign aiming to improve security and delivery of impartial and efficient health care in armed conflict and other emergencies.
Health Care in Danger is an ICRC-led project of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement scheduled to run from 2012 to 2015 and aimed at improving the efficiency and delivery of effective and impartial health care in armed conflict and other emergencies. This will be done by mobilizing experts to develop practical measures that can be implemented in the field by decision-makers, humanitarian organizations and health professionals.