Syria: Aid reaches hardest-hit areas as fighting rages on

26-06-2013 Operational Update No 06/13

Vital aid continues to be delivered by the ICRC and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent. Access to clean water is being improved, and critical health-care services in the most conflict-stricken parts of the country continue to receive support despite bureaucratic and security challenges.

Life-saving surgical equipment has been delivered by the ICRC to a hospital in an area controlled by the armed opposition in eastern Aleppo. Medical supplies have also been delivered to local hospitals in Jaramana and Bludan in Rural Damascus. "We’re working to make sure that war-wounded people receive the treatment they desperately need," said Magne Barth, the head of the ICRC delegation in Syria. "Crippling shortages of equipment, supplies and staff have left many health-care facilities struggling to provide adequate treatment. We need to be given the necessary leeway to be able to do more to assist people in need."

With an estimated four million people displaced in the country, the ICRC and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent have been delivering monthly food parcels to the neediest. Over 300,000 people across the country have benefited since early May. Some 120,000 people, most of them displaced, have been given household essentials over the same period. "The price of basic goods has skyrocketed, making it extremely hard for ordinary people to put a meal on the family table. They are extremely vulnerable and there’s no respite," added Mr Barth.

In mid-June, ICRC and Syrian Arab Red Crescent staff obtained access to the Qusair area – which had been almost deserted after weeks of intense fighting – although they were not able to enter the city itself. The Syrian Arab Red Crescent, with ICRC support, continued to bring aid to people displaced from Qusair who had found refuge in the Hasya area and elsewhere. Engineers worked to tackle the serious water shortages in outlying villages in the Qusair area, where many displaced people had found shelter. With essential public services collapsing, the ICRC is working to boost the supply of potable water across Syria by providing technical and material support for local water boards in the hardest-hit areas and in camps accommodating displaced people. ICRC staff have also visited Deir Ezzour and Idlib this month, following up on a variety of projects and initiating new ones aimed at making sure people have clean water. In Aleppo, they have helped deal with waste collection and applied insecticides aimed at stemming the spread of disease.

"The safety of ICRC and Syrian Arab Red Crescent staff on the ground remains a constant concern. It is no exaggeration to say they put their lives on the line every day," said Mr Barth. "With no sign of a political solution to this crisis, we are striving to restore basic services while insisting that health-care facilities, workers and vehicles are neutral and must be respected and protected."

For further information, please contact:
Ewan Watson, ICRC Geneva, tel: +41 22 730 33 45 or +41 79 244 64 70