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Syria: with no halt in fighting, aid effort faces major challenges

01-03-2012 Operational Update

In areas affected by the violence, the Syrian Arab Red Crescent, with ICRC support, is doing its utmost to evacuate the wounded and others in need. It is also distributing essential aid to the population in areas of unrest.

On 21 February, the ICRC called for a daily humanitarian pause in the fighting of at least two hours, so that ICRC staff and Syrian Arab Red Crescent volunteers have enough time to deliver aid and evacuate the wounded and the sick.

In Homs, as the violence continues, the humanitarian situation is very worrying. Despite ongoing negotiations with the authorities and opposition groups, Syrian Arab Red Crescent personnel managed to enter Baba Amr only twice in the last seven days. The situation makes it impossible to distribute aid in the Baba Amr and Il-Insha'at areas at present. However, assistance operations are taking place in other areas, sometimes with difficulty owing to the security conditions.

In Al-Zabadani, 50 kilometres north-west of Damascus, people have been leaving the city for Bludan and Madaya, near the Lebanese border, in search of safety. Bludan residents and people they took in from Al-Zabadani were without medical care for 10 days. There were reports of shortages – of food, electricity and water – resulting from the lack of security in the Zabadani area.

Evacuating the wounded and distributing aid in Baba Amr and elsewhere in Homs

  • Convoys of 13 trucks carrying relief goods and food, and five other Syrian Arab Red Crescent and ICRC vehicles, entered Homs between 11 and 28 February. The supplies they carried included medical items, food for 30,000 people for one month, 3,000 blankets, 1,000 baby-milk tins and hygiene items for 9,000 people.
  • The Homs branch of the Syrian Arab Red Crescent has been distributing the aid since 15 February in four areas of Homs (Al-Khalidiyah, Karm al-Zaytun, Al-Rastan and Al-Tawzi' al-Ijbari). Subsequent distributions also took place in six other parts of the city.
  • A convoy of nine ambulances, a mobile medical unit and three Syrian Arab Red Crescent and ICRC vehicles entered the Baba Amr neighbourhood of Homs on 24 February. Syrian Arab Red Crescent ambulances evacuated seven seriously wounded people and 20 sick women and children to the nearby Al-Amin Hospital.
  • Three other people, including two women, were evacuated on 27 February.
  • On 11 February, ICRC and Syrian Arab Red Crescent personnel joined local Red Crescent volunteers in Homs in evacuating more than 80 inhabitants of the Insha'at area to a mosque in a safer neighbourhood. "A period of calm made it possible for us to evacuate people," said Jeroen Carrin, an ICRC delegate who took part in the evacuation. "People looked exhausted. They had been trying to leave the neighbourhood for nearly a week. Syrian Arab Red Crescent volunteers provided first aid for those who needed it."
  • The ICRC also provided medical supplies for the private hospitals that continue to function in the city.

Bringing aid to Hama, Idlib and Dara'a

  • During the past week, humanitarian convoys entered Hama, Idlib and Dara'a. The relief goods they were carrying included the first ICRC aid to reach Hama since 17 January. A total of 2,000 food parcels, 500 blankets and hygiene items for 2,200 people were delivered to the Syrian Arab Red Crescent branch in Hama. "The distribution of the assistance started on 28 February," said Rula Daoud, an ICRC field officer on the scene.
  • Another convoy reached Idlib on 28 February, carrying 1,500 food parcels, 1,000 blankets and hygiene items for 9,000 people.
  • In addition, 500 food parcels were delivered to Dara'a for distribution by the Syrian Arab Red Crescent branch in the city.

Medical teams enter Bludan and Madaaya

  • On 18 and 19 February, the the Syrian Arab Red Crescent set up another first-aid and medical post in Al-Zabadani, manned by 17 Syrian Arab Red Crescent volunteers, including three doctors and 11 first-aid workers, and provided with two ambulances and a mobile clinic. Three specialized clinics (paediatrics and surgery) were formed to provide medical care. The ambulances brought in people who would otherwise have been unable to reach the post for treatment. The Syrian Arab Red Crescent also set up a pharmacy to dispense medicines. Nearly 700 people have been treated.
  • On 12 February, Syrian Arab Red Crescent set up a medical post in Bludan. For three days, volunteer doctors attended to more than 250 people, many of them injured. Returning to Damascus, the medical team brought five patients with them, including a woman and her daughter, who could not receive proper medical treatment on location.
  • On 11 February, a Syrian Arab Red Crescent convoy of ambulances and trucks carrying 480 baby-milk tins and other food for 16,200 people, 800 blankets and hygiene supplies entered Bludan.

During the same period, the Syrian Arab Red Crescent delivered and distributed 1,500 20-kilogram ICRC food parcels to the affected population in Bludan, Madaya and Buqqin and 1,000 57-kilogram food parcels from the World Food Programme in Al-Zabadani. In addition, at least a dozen injured people were evacuated to Damascus for treatment and then returned to their homes a day later.

Activities in the Golan

The ICRC continued its activities to ease the effects of the occupation on Syrian Arabs living in the Golan Heights. On 27 February, ICRC staff facilitated the return to the occupied Golan of a bride, three students, and five other people whose travel to Damascus had been arranged for humanitarian reasons.

For further information, please contact:
Saleh Dabbakeh, ICRC Damascus, tel: +963 993 700 847 or +963 11 331 0476
Hicham Hassan, ICRC Geneva, tel: +41 22 730 25 41 or +41 79 536 92 57
or visit our website: www.icrc.org


Photos

Homs. Local people help SARC volunteers unload food parcels for distribution to people who have fled their homes.  

Homs. Local people help SARC volunteers unload food parcels for distribution to people who have fled their homes.
© SARC / I. Malla / sy-e-00104

 

SARC relief point inside Al-Ikhlass mosque in Karm Elshami. Homs. The facility serves as a registration and distribution centre, and as a medical point where the sick are diagnosed and given medicines.
© SARC / I. Malla / sy-e-00112

Homs, Syria. Smoke rises from a building damaged in the fighting. 26 February 2012. 

Homs. Smoke rises from a building damaged in the fighting. 26 February 2012.
© Reuters / Handout

Sermeen, near the northern city of Idlib, Syria. A man waves from the window of a house damaged in the fighting. 28 February 2012 

Sermeen, near the northern city of Idlib. A man waves from the window of a house damaged in the fighting. 28 February 2012
© Reuters / Z. Bensemra

Al Qusayr, southwest of Homs, Syria. Women queue to buy bread at a baker's. 1 March 2012 

Al Qusayr, southwest of Homs. Women queue to buy bread at a baker's. 1 March 2012
© Reuters / G. Tomasevic