Syria: needs increase as situation deteriorates

15-06-2012 Operational Update No 05/12

Since early May, the situation has been deteriorating in several parts of Syria. Fighting between government forces and armed opposition groups continues in Idlib, Rural Idlib, Rural Damascus, Hama, Lattakia and, to a lesser extent, in Rural Aleppo, Dar'a and Deir Ezzor. Civilians continue to flee and needs are increasing.

There have been dozens of casualties in Houla, al-Qubeir and al-Hiffa, and people have been losing their lives on a daily basis in other areas affected by the fighting. "I now have nothing but the clothes on my back," said Um Mahmoud, a 52-year-old widow who fled Mazra'at al-Qubeir, in Hama governorate, alone. "I myself don't have anyone to worry about, but I cannot help but put myself in the place of my neighbours who left their relatives behind," she added. Thousands have fled their homes since May, and many more continue to flee in search of safety – which may sometimes be a mere kilometre away from their neighbourhoods.

"More and more people are in need of help," said Alexandre Equey, the deputy head of the ICRC delegation in Syria. "In some areas, people are unable to get out, and help cannot get in. Together with the Syrian Arab Red Crescent, we have managed to help thousands of people. But we have to go back and help the same people again, at the same time that we are attempting to help the newly displaced."

Only last week, the ICRC and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent had several teams in Aleppo, in Idlib city and rural areas of Idlib governorate, and in al-Nabak, 80 kilometres north-east of Damascus. The Syrian Arab Red Crescent continues to address needs in several governorates simultaneously, while the ICRC continues to pre-position food, mattresses, blankets and medical and other items in Syrian Arab Red Crescent branches all over the country. This set-up helps the organizations respond to urgent needs promptly, which it is especially important to do in view of the increasing violence.

"Although we have already helped thousands and are maintaining our efforts, we will not be able to be everywhere at the same time," said Mr Equey. "What is clear is that, first and foremost, people need to feel safe and to know that they will get the care they need."

The ICRC and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent are carrying on with their efforts to help the tens of thousands of people in fighting-stricken areas in the shortest possible time.

Food and other essentials

Over the past two weeks, in cooperation with the Syrian Arab Red Crescent, the ICRC:

  • supplied over 13,000 food parcels – and also in some cases fresh vegetables and bread – to more than 55,000 people, many of whom are displaced, in the governorates of Homs (including villages in Houla plain and Bab Amr), Rural Damascus, Hama and Idlib;
  •  provided sleeping mats, mattresses, towels, hygiene articles, kitchen sets and other items on the basis of need to people in different areas, such as in Homs, Hama, Lattakia, Tartous, Idlib and Aleppo.

Responding to medical needs

Over the past two weeks:

  • the Syrian Arab Red Crescent dispatched an ICRC-donated stock of medical items for the treatment of some 500 wounded persons to the governorates of Aleppo, Damascus, Rural Damascus, Dar'a, Hama, Homs, Idlib and Tartous;
  • the ICRC sent four mobile health units containing supplies for first aid, triage, patient stabilization, minor surgery, etc., to Syrian Arab Red Crescent branches in Aleppo, Homs, Hama, Idlib and Tartous;
  • a third Syrian Arab Red Crescent medical point – capable of providing first aid, triage and minor surgery – was set up in Damascus to provide round-the-clock treatment to the wounded and the sick;
  •  the ICRC ordered medical items – stretchers, ECG, stethoscopes, etc. – to be delivered as soon as possible to the emergency room of the Syrian Arab Red Crescent hospital in Homs.

Improving water supply and sanitary conditions

Over the past two weeks, ICRC water engineers:

  • have been working with the Syrian Arab Red Crescent to upgrade water supply, storage and the sanitary facilities in 35 public buildings, including schoolhouses, in Rural Homs and in the town of Homs to improve housing, water and sanitary conditions for more than 10,000 displaced people;
  • delivered or made plans to deliver supplies to Houla to provide water for more than 20,000 displaced people and the communities hosting them;
  • worked with the Syrian Arab Red Crescent and the local water board in al-Nabak area, some 80 kilometres north-east of Damascus, to upgrade existing water and sanitary facilities to make them capable of meeting the needs of some 60,000 displaced people arriving mainly from Homs governorate;
  • provided the supplies needed to connect the main water pipelines in seven rural and remote villages – five in Raqqa and two in Homs governorate – so that around 5,000 people, many of them displaced, would have drinking water.

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


Al Khalidieh near Homs, Syria. Black smoke rises over the city as fighting continues. 

Al Khalidieh near Homs, Syria. Black smoke rises over the city as fighting continues.
© Reuters

The old city, Homs, Syria. Buildings destroyed in the fighting. 

The old city, Homs, Syria. Buildings destroyed in the fighting.
© Reuters

Houla, Syria. People gather outside a bakery to buy bread. 

Houla, Syria. People gather outside a bakery to buy bread.
© Reuters