Syria: A third winter looms
The Syria crisis is entering its third winter. For millions, the coming months will bring hunger, cold and exposure to extreme levels of violence.
Robert Mardini, ICRC head of operations for the Middle East, said civilians trapped in besieged areas which humanitarian organizations are not permitted to enter are the "most vulnerable of the vulnerable" this winter. In an interview during a recent visit to London, he called for greater awareness of their plight.
Across Syria families have lost their homes and are trying to survive without heat, electricity or safe drinking water. Basic infrastructure has collapsed, and very few essential services are available. The health care system has effectively collapsed or been driven underground by direct attacks on hospitals and on doctors and nurses.
Mr Mardini noted that Syria will be remembered as the conflict where the basic right for the wounded and sick to receive treatment is routinely ignored. To tackle this unacceptable behaviour and to secure access to those trapped by fighting, the humanitarian problems in Syria need to be higher on the political agenda.