Never be curious: How to stay alive in Rio

Never be curious: How to stay alive in Rio

RIO DE JANEIRO - Stay away from the windows, don't come out of hiding until the shootout is over and keep your hands visible to police at all times.

That is the advice Brazil's Red Cross is offering the embattled residents of Rio's slums when urban violence breaks out on their doorstep.

Rio's Red Cross chairman Luiz Alberto Sampaio on Thursday said the organisation was targeting four favelas with particularly high violence, despite a six-year campaign by authorities to "pacify" dozens of slums with resident police units known as UPPs.

"Our goal is for residents to take due care of themselves. We want to minimise the danger they are exposed to," Sampaio told web news portal G1.

A pamphlet contains advice such as "identify the most secure streets. Deserted or dark streets are the most dangerous... learn to recognise danger signs - fireworks, closed shops, empty streets." With a nine-year-old child killed by a stray bullet only last Sunday, the Red Cross - Cruz Vermelha in its Brazilian incarnation - warned residents of slums, known as favelas, to "stay away from the window" because broken glass from a bullet "could injure or even kill." Residents caught in the crossfire between criminals and police should not run home, but take cover and lie low.

"Never be curious. Only leave your hiding place or go to the window when you are sure the danger is over." And when it comes to police, "cooperate and do not make sudden movements, keeping your hands visible." The International Red Cross has previously described urban violence of the kind prevalent in Rio's poorest districts as "war by any other name." Although the city's campaign to pacify dozens of favelas has borne some fruit, violence remains a regular occurrence.

In 2010, as Brazil sent UPPs into dozens of slums, a Red Cross article said that Rio "is not at war, but there are places where it looks that way."

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