Damascus/Geneva (SARC-IFRC-ICRC) - On World First Aid Day [13 September 2014], the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement calls for the greater protection for Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC) first aid volunteers.
“In Syria, first aid volunteers risk their lives daily to bring life-saving services to the population,” said Dr. Abdul Rahman Attar, President of the SARC. “Parties to the conflict need to respect our volunteers, the Red Crescent emblem, and to let our teams safely access people in need.”
Despite the ongoing armed conflict and the death of 38 SARC volunteers since 2011, young Syrians from across the country continue to join the SARC in large numbers as first aid volunteers. “We are grateful for their commitment. These young people are the pillar of the SARC and make an enormous difference for the people we serve,” said Dr. Attar.
Seven Palestinian Red Crescent volunteers have also lost their lives, bringing the total to 45 Red Crescent volunteers killed while undertaking humanitarian work in Syria.
SARC volunteers often work in extremely volatile environments to reach people in need of evacuation to health facilities, including to the 22 SARC first aid response centres that operate around the clock across Syria. First aiders often operate across front lines, under fire and with limited equipment. Despite these difficulties, they have treated or evacuated tens of thousands of people since the beginning of the conflict.
“We certainly need all the financial and material support we can get to continue to provide this life-saving service to the Syrian people,” said Dr. Attar. “However, what we need first and foremost is greater acknowledgement by the parties to the conflict of the essential role played by SARC first aiders and a commitment to protect their lives and mission at all times.”
For more information, please contact:
Vivan Tou’meh, SARC Damascus, tel: +963 9599 99 639 (Arabic/English)
Penny Sims, IFRC Damascus, tel: +963 953 333 860 (English)
Simon Schorno, ICRC Damascus, tel: +963 993 700 847 (English/French)