Syria: ICRC responds to violence in Damascus
20-07-2012 Operational Update
As the fighting continues, including in Damascus, people are fleeing their homes to seek refuge in safer areas. Despite the violence, the ICRC and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent are pressing ahead with their aid effort.
People in Damascus had been feeling unsafe for weeks, but the situation has become even more tense since the beginning of this week. Many shops are closed, there is little traffic on the streets and fewer people venture outside their homes.
"Reports are reaching us that many people are in need of medical care and that thousands of families have left their homes because of the violence," said Robert Mardini, the ICRC's head of operations for the Near and Middle East.
"Together with the volunteers of the Syrian Arab Red Crescent, we are trying to gain a better understanding of the humanitarian situation. We are continuously assessing needs," said Mr Mardini. "So far, five schools have been supplied with mattresses to accommodate people who had to leave their homes. And we will soon deliver other household essentials and food parcels for people temporarily taking refuge in the schools." Other schools that now stand empty will also be supplied in case more people require temporary shelter.
The ICRC has already pre-positioned wound-dressing materials and other medical items with the Syrian Arab Red Crescent, which has been treating people for injuries in several locations this week.
In the last two days, over 18,000 people have crossed into Lebanon, and the flow of refugees is likely to continue. While many found refuge with relatives and friends across the country, communities in the Bekaa will probably have to host thousands of others. As soon as the extent of the influx became clear on 19 July, the Lebanese Red Cross stationed an emergency medical team with three ambulances at the Masnaa border crossing, providing medical care and water.
Today, 20 July, the ICRC added medical personnel to this team and started distributing essential household items to those most in need. In total, 300 families have already received this type of aid.
Since mid-2011, the ICRC and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent have brought aid to over 600,000 people affected by the violence in several parts of Syria, including in Dar'a, Homs, Idlib, Hama, Aleppo and Rural Damascus.
The ICRC's urgently needed humanitarian activities will continue in cooperation with the Syrian Arab Red Crescent. Despite the difficult situation some 50 ICRC staff, including 12 expatriates, continue to work in support of the Syrian Arab Red Crescent.
For further information, please contact:
Alexis Heeb, ICRC Geneva, tel: +41 22 730 37 72 or +41 79 218 76 10
Rabab Al-Rifaï, ICRC Damascus, tel: +963 993 700 847 or +963 11 331 0476
Samar El Kadi, ICRC Beirut, tel: +961 70 153 928
See also: the ICRC in Syria