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Syria: helping civilians in Damascus cope with uncertainty

24-07-2012 Operational Update

Over the past two days, the situation in and around Damascus has remained tense and volatile. People are still fleeing their homes for safer areas. The ICRC and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent have been focusing their efforts on Damascus.

"People have been calling us on a daily basis, saying they need a helping hand," said Marianne Gasser, the ICRC's head of delegation in Syria. "Some are in need of the basics – items one usually takes for granted, such as water and food, and a mattress to sleep on. But first and foremost, they are in need of safety."

The ICRC's priority at the moment is to help meet the needs of thousands of people who left their homes and are now taking temporary shelter in dozens of school buildings that have been made available to them. Over the past two days, the ICRC arranged for 12 trucks to deliver over 2,000 mattresses and enough food for some 11,000 people to five locations in Rural Damascus.

"Although the situation has calmed down in some parts of the city, life is not back to normal," said Ms Gasser. "People who have fled their homes only want to be able to go back. Unfortunately, for many, there hasn't yet been any opportunity to do so."

The ICRC has sent water and sanitation technicians to four schools in Damascus, which together are hosting over 3,300 people, to make sure the facilities can supply enough clean drinking water and maintain acceptable levels of hygiene and sanitation for everyone taking shelter in them. In addition, new water tanks have been installed in one neighbourhood in Damascus so that 2,500 displaced people and the communities hosting them will have an adequate supply of clean water.

The ICRC and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent will continue to assess and respond to the humanitarian situation in Damascus on a daily basis in order to meet the growing needs.

The ICRC currently has 50 staff members working in Syria. Together with the Syrian Arab Red Crescent, they have been assisting tens of thousands of people affected since the onset of the violence.

For further information, please contact:

Rabab Al-Rifaï, 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


Photos

Damascus, 21 July 2012. A house on fire in the suburb of Erbeen. 

Damascus, 21 July 2012. A house on fire in the suburb of Erbeen.
© Reuters