The ICRC's director of operations, Dominik Stillhart, has said the humanitarian situation in Syria has deteriorated sharply during the past few weeks and the need for food, water and medical supplies is more urgent than ever. On a two-day visit to the Syrian capital, Damascus, Mr Stillhart appealed for more access to areas affected by the fighting:
"The needs of the most vulnerable in both urban and rural areas continue to increase every day. The fighting is escalating in many parts of the country and more and more people are being forced to flee their homes. It is causing untold suffering," said Mr Stillhart.
Mr Stillhart met the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Minister of Local Administration, the Head of the High Relief Committee, the Minister of Health and the Minister of Water Resources. Among the issues discussed were the delivery of medical, including surgical, supplies; disinfectant material for water treatment plants; and the development of a meaningful dialogue on conditions and treatment in detention. He also met the President of the Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC) and visited a water treatment station in rural Damascus, which is supported by the ICRC. He met as well displaced people who had fled Yarmouk and are now staying in a centre for displaced people in Al-Zahera.
Since the beginning of 2015, the ICRC, along with the SARC, have conducted over 130 field visits in different governorates. They have also delivered emergency aid across front lines on 16 occasions, to areas which are hard to reach. In April, the ICRC and SARC managed to send aid by air to Deir Ezzor city for the first time in 18 months. The city is in dire need of assistance as the fighting intensifies and access becomes more difficult. Much needed aid was also brought to Yelda, Babila and Beit Sahem, in rural Damascus. Meetings were held with local communities to discuss the humanitarian needs of residents and the displaced people who fled Yarmouk camp last month.
"As an impartial and humanitarian organisation, we have pursued frank, open and transparent discussions with the Syrian authorities and other parties to the conflict. This has enabled us to access some of the most difficult areas. But this access needs to increase so that more people can be reached," said Mr Stillhart.