Middle East

Assistance reaches Syrian civilians despite challenges: ICRC

International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) President Jakob Kellenberger arrives for a news conference in Geneva June 25, 2012. (REUTERS/Denis Balibouse)

BEIRUT: Despite facing increasing challenges over the past three weeks, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent have assisted over 125,000 people affected by violence in several parts of Syria since the outbreak of the conflict last year, a statement by the ICRC said.

"Though the ICRC and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent are doing everything possible to assist civilians affected by the violence, it is also up to the parties to the conflict to take every feasible measure to spare the civilian population the effects of the fighting," said Marianne Gasser, the head of the ICRC delegation in Syria.

Indicating that thousands of civilians, especially in the governorates of Damascus and Aleppo, are struggling to stay safe, Gasser said that it has become very difficult for ICRC staff to bring aid to the civilian population.

"Needs have been growing very fast, so the ICRC has had to quickly adapt its way of working to be able to meet them in partnership with the Syrian Arab Red Crescent," Gasser said.

As fighting flared up in the governorate of Aleppo, in the north of Syria, thousands of people left their homes and began pouring into public buildings, now used as temporary shelters.

"Aleppo is of particular concern to the ICRC, not only because of its distant geographical location, but because the Syrian Arab Red Crescent had to suspend most of its activities owing to extreme danger on the ground," said Gasser.

"Still, dozens of volunteers have continued to work under extremely difficult conditions to meet the growing needs of the civilian population."

Though humanitarian efforts over the past few weeks have focused on Damascus and Aleppo, needs in other parts of the country remain high.

In Homs, thousands of people have taken shelter in schoolhouses and other public buildings, some for several weeks already.

The ICRC has delivered a one-month supply of food to over 20,000 people in the city.





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