Geneva/Damascus (ICRC) – The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent are attempting to evacuate and otherwise assist people stranded in several neighbourhoods of Homs city by the ongoing fighting.
"Fighting has been raging for more than 10 days between the Syrian Army and armed opposition groups in several neighbourhoods of Homs city," said Béatrice Mégevand-Roggo, the ICRC's head of operations for the Near and Middle East. "Hundreds of civilians are stuck in the old city of Homs, unable to leave and find refuge in safer areas, because of the ongoing armed confrontations. It is critical that the ICRC and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent be immediately given safe and unhindered access to those in need of life-saving assistance."
The ICRC made a request on 19 June for a temporary pause in the fighting to the Syrian authorities and to different opposition groups. The authorities officially agreed to our request, and the opposition groups gave assurances that they would respect the pause. The ICRC and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent are ready to enter the old city of Homs and the neighbourhoods of al-Qarabees, al-Qusour, Jurat al-Shayyah and al-Khalidiya.
"Our first priority, together with the Syrian Arab Red Crescent, is to evacuate the wounded and the sick to safer areas, where they can be treated," said Ms Mégevand-Roggo. "We also want to evacuate civilians who have been unable to flee the conflict area, and bring in much-needed aid and medical supplies to the local Syrian Arab Red Crescent branch."
In accordance with international humanitarian law, the wounded and the sick must receive, to the fullest extent practicable and with the least delay, the medical care and attention they require, and all possible measures must be taken to facilitate their evacuation. The parties must also take all feasible precautions to protect the civilian population, including allowing civilians to move to safer areas.