A Vietnam Red Cross team who managed to fly home safely from quake-ravaged Nepal has come under criticism for turning their back on victims of the massive earthquake.
The 10 Vietnamese left for Nepal on April 19 to learn about methods to survive and deal with earthquakes. Less than a week later, Nepal’s worst quake in 80 years shook the country, killing around 7,000 so far and left millions in emergency need for help.
As humanitarian groups were working day and night to help Nepal recover from the disaster, the Vietnamese team decided to leave.
They arrived in Hanoi on Tuesday, being the first Vietnamese coming back safely from Nepal.
There has been an intense debate on social media over whether it’s ethical for the team to leave Nepal.
Many questions have been raised, such as “Why did the team leave when their goal was to learn about earthquakes?” or “Why didn’t they at least stay to help the Vietnamese still stranded there?”
“They seemed to have forgotten their duty as a Red Cross member and didn't feel ashamed about that,” Facebooker Han Nguyen wrote in a post.
Tony Morning, a popular voice on social media, also joined the debate. Addressing the Red Cross members, he said: “In an incident like this, you should be the ones instructing those who have not had a chance to know how to deal with earthquakes. But then you were the first to leave.”
“If you’re a doctor, saving people is a priority rather than saving yourself. And a boat captain has to be the last one leaving the boat in an incident.”
But some people also said that their coming back made sense because they were possibly aware of their lack of skills or equipment.
“If you want to save a drowning person, and you cannot swim or do not have any rescue tool, you should just ask others to help. If you jump in, there will be two people drowning,” one commented on a Thanh Nien report.
Vietnam’s government has decided to donate US$50,000 to Nepal and Vietnam Red Cross has given $30,000 via the International Red Cross, insiders said.
“They did nothing wrong for pursuing the right to live. A Red Cross member is just any human,” another reader wrote.
But criticism kept overflowing especially when local media reported that two members of a Vietnamese telecom firm, who came to Nepal looking for business opportunities, are still staying there to help.
Nguyen The Nghia, one of the two, said on the phone on Thursday that they donated blood and have given any help they could.
“We’ve taken care of ourselves first, and we’ve found something to do to help others. We’ve seen so many people injured, and we’re staying pretty close to a hospital.”
Nguyen Xuan Duy, one of the 10 Red Cross members, said during a national television program on Wednesday afternoon that the Nepal Red Cross did not let them stay.
“We were not equipped with the native language or skills to understand the local situation.
“Our delegation includes high-ranking members... We will be able to help better from Vietnam.”
Vietnam Red Cross has reportedly donated $30,000 to Nepal.