The Irish Red Cross, Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC) and the International Red Cross Red Crescent movement are outraged by last night’s horrific attack on a SARC warehouse and an aid convoy in Orem Al Kubra (Big Orem) in rural Aleppo.
“We’re totally devastated by the deaths of so many people, including one of our colleagues, the director of our sub-branch, Omar Barakat. He was a committed and brave member of our family of committed staff and volunteers, working relentlessly to alleviate the suffering of the Syrian people. It is totally unacceptable that our staff and volunteers continue to pay such a high price because of the ongoing fighting," said the SARC President, Dr Abdulrahman Attar.
Around twenty civilians and one SARC staff member were killed as they unloaded trucks carrying vital humanitarian aid. The trucks contained aid for 78,000 people in the area. Much of the aid was destroyed. “The attack has deprived thousands of people of much-needed food and medical assistance. We reiterate our call to the international community to ensure the protection of humanitarian aid workers and volunteers”, said Liam O’Dwyer, Secretary General of the Irish Red Cross.
The Irish Red Cross has been providing humanitarian assistance in Syria and its surrounding region for more than five years. More than €400,000 of aid has been provided through the Irish Red Cross. Irish staff members have worked in the conflict hit country coordinating convoys and supporting communications. “We will continue to support our colleagues on the ground in Syria as they strive to reach as many people as possible. We have no plans to send any more staff from Ireland at this time”, said Mr O’Dwyer.
“Failing to respect and protect humanitarian workers and structures might have serious repercussions on ongoing humanitarian operations in the country, hence depriving millions of people from aid essential to their survival”, said Peter Maurer, the ICRC President.
Syria is one of the most dangerous conflicts for humanitarian workers in the world. During the past six years, 54 staff and volunteers of SARC have lost their lives whilst carrying out their duties.
The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement repeats its demand that all parties to the conflict adhere to the rules of International Humanitarian Law, which includes protecting aid workers.
"We are devastated by the deaths of so many people, including our colleague Omar Barakat".