Syria: ICRC and Syrian Arab Red Crescent maintain aid effort amid increased fighting

17-07-2012 Operational Update

There has recently been an escalation in fighting between government forces and armed opposition groups, especially in Rural Damascus. The ICRC and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent are responding to the most urgent needs of residents and displaced people in several parts of the country.

Fighting has been taking place continuously in Homs governorate and Deir Ezzor and sporadically in Dar'a, where the number of displaced people is growing fast. The situation in the rural areas of Aleppo governorate is also still very tense, especially in northern villages.

As a result, an increasing number of people are struggling to preserve their safety and their livelihoods, and thousands of people are fleeing to take refuge with families, friends or other people. To meet the growing needs, the ICRC is providing help together with the Syrian Arab Red Crescent for people in northern Syria. "Since mid-2011, we have brought aid to over 600,000 people jointly with the Syrian Arab Red Crescent," said Robert Mardini, the ICRC's head of operations for the Near and Middle East.

As the situation has evolved, the ICRC has continued to monitor the conflict in the country. The ICRC concludes that there is currently a non-international (internal) armed conflict occurring in Syria opposing Government Forces and a number of organised armed opposition groups operating in several parts of the country (including, but not limited to, Homs, Idlib and Hama). Thus, hostilities between these parties wherever they may occur in Syria are subject to the rules of international humanitarian law. These rules impose limits on how the fighting can be conducted, with the aim of protecting the civilian population and persons not, or no longer, directly participating in the hostilities.

"As a neutral and independent humanitarian organization with a mandate to promote respect for international humanitarian law, the ICRC’s preferred way of addressing humanitarian issues is through bilateral and confidential dialogue," said Mr Mardini. "This approach enables us to obtain and preserve access to the people most affected by armed conflict or other violence and to the warring parties themselves." The ICRC and its staff cannot be compelled to testify before any court or tribunal. Its documents and reports, including those shared with the authorities, cannot be used as evidence in any legal proceedings.

The ICRC and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent are responding to the most urgent needs of residents and displaced people throughout Syria. In Deir Ezzor, a Syrian Arab Red Crescent aid worker, Khaled Khaffaji, was shot and killed on 9 July while on duty. Under international humanitarian law, the red cross and red crescent emblems must be respected in all circumstances. Medical staff and facilities, and humanitarian relief personnel, must be respected and protected from attack.

Food and other essentials

Over the past month (from 15 June to 15 July), in cooperation with the Syrian Arab Red Crescent, the ICRC:

  • supplied food for some 150,000 people, at least 100,000 of whom are displaced, in the governorates of Homs, Rural Damascus, Hama, Idlib, Lattakia, Al-Hassakeh, and Al-Raqqa. In addition, the ICRC and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent provided food and other essential items for over 5,000 displaced families from Douma, and one-month food rations for almost 600 people in Douma city
  • provided sleeping mats, mattresses, towels, hygiene articles, kitchen sets and other items on the basis of need to people in various areas, such as Rural Damascus, Aleppo, Homs, Idlib, Deir Ez-Zor, Hama, and Damascus.

Responding to medical needs

Over the past month (from 15 June to 15 July):

  • the Syrian Arab Red Crescent delivered ICRC-donated medical supplies, including wound-dressing materials, gloves, disinfectants, injection and surgical drainage materials and intravenous fluids to Deir Ezzor;
  • the ICRC provided disinfectants, wound-dressing materials, suture instruments, intravenous fluids and other medical items for Syrian Arab Red Crescent health-care facilities in violence-stricken areas of Rural Damascus;
  • the ICRC made available medical items for the treatment of some 400 wounded patients to Syrian Arab Red Crescent branches in Aleppo, Damascus, Dar'a, Hama, Homs, Idlib and Tartous.

Improving water supply and sanitary conditions

Over the past month (from 15 June to 15 July): ICRC water engineers:

  • worked with the Syrian Arab Red Crescent to upgrade facilities in 10 schoolhouses in urban and rural areas of Homs governorate providing water and sanitation for 2,000 displaced people
  • delivered clean drinking water by truck to Homs governorate for almost 70,000 displaced people and the communities hosting them;
  • worked with the Syrian Arab Red Crescent and the local water board in the An-Nabek area, some 80 kilometres north-east of Damascus, to install water tanks, and also to deliver water by truck to around 10,000 displaced people;
  • completed upgrades to eight boreholes serving some 32,500 people in Raqqa, Aleppo and Dara'a Governorates.


For further information, please contact:
Cecilia Goin, ICRC Damascus, tel: +963 930 177 746
Rabab Al-Rifaï, ICRC Damascus, tel: +963 993 700 847 or +963 11 331 0476
Alexis Heeb, ICRC Geneva, tel: +41 22 730 37 72 or +41 79 218 76 10