Syrian Arab Red Crescent and ICRC evacuate civilians from the Old City of Aleppo. © Noor Hazouri / SARC
Damascus/Geneva: Nearly 150 civilians, most of whom were disabled or in urgent need of care, were evacuated late night from a hospital in the Old City of Aleppo, in a joint operation by the Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC) and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).
Dar Al-Safaa, originally an elderly home whose role expanded because of the crisis, had been accommodating patients with mental health needs or physical disabilities. Three dozen other civilians, a number of them injured, had also sought refuge there.
"These patients and civilians had been trapped in the area for days because of heavy clashes nearby and as the front line kept drawing closer," said the ICRC's Head of Delegation in Syria, Marianne Gasser, who is currently in Aleppo. "Many of them cannot move and need special attention and care. It must have been terrifying for them. Our partners from the Syrian Arab Red Crescent had been trying to reach and evacuate them since Tuesday."
118 patients were taken to Aleppo's Al-Razi, University or Ibn Khaldoun hospitals, while 30 men, women and children, were transferred to shelters in Western Aleppo. Six orphaned and very young children were amongst the evacuees.
Syrian Arab Red Crescent and ICRC provide care for a patient evacuated from the Old City of Aleppo. © Noor Hazouri / SARC
A first evacuation mission was aborted on Tuesday because of very heavy clashes in the area. Finally, yesterday afternoon SARC, with support from the ICRC, managed to reach premises in the Al-Meshatyeh neighborhood after it was retaken by Government forces and the fighting died down.
Tragically, for some, the operation came too late: 11 people died before the SARC and ICRC team were able to reach the centre. They were either caught in the crossfire or died because they did not have access to the right medications. The SARC also evacuated their human remains, so they can be properly identified and returned to their families, and accorded the appropriate funeral rites.
The ICRC and SARC stand ready to act as a neutral intermediary between all sides, and to assist civilians in areas of heavy fighting inside Eastern Aleppo where the humanitarian situation is known to be catastrophic. The ICRC urgently calls on all parties to allow a humanitarian pause and to provide the necessary security guarantees.
For further information, please contact:
Pawel Krzysiek, ICRC Damascus, tel: +963 993 700 847
Ralph El Hage, ICRC Amman, tel: +962 7 7845 4382
Krista Armstrong, ICRC Geneva, tel: +41 22 730 37 23 or +41 79 447 37 26