The Syrian Red Crescent and International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) are today continuing to assist people fleeing their homes in search of safety. Over the past three days, the situation in and around Damascus has remained tense and volatile.
"Although the situation has calmed down in some parts of the city, life is not back to normal," said Marianne Gasser, the ICRC's head of delegation in Syria. "People who have fled their homes only want to be able to go back. Unfortunately, for many, there hasn't yet been any opportunity to do so."
Within Syria, access to healthcare, and food, water and other basic supplies remains difficult for thousands of people. The ICRC's priority at the moment is to help meet the needs of thousands of people who have left their homes and are now taking temporary shelter in dozens of school buildings that have been made available to them. Over the past three days, the ICRC has arranged for 12 trucks to deliver over 2,000 mattresses and enough food for some 11,000 people to five locations in rural Damascus.
"People have been calling us on a daily basis, saying they need a helping hand," said Ms Gasser. "Some are in need of the basics – items one usually takes for granted, such as water and food, and a mattress to sleep on. But first and foremost, they are in need of safety."
The ICRC has sent water and sanitation technicians to four schools in Damascus, which together are hosting over 3,300 people, to make sure the facilities can supply enough clean drinking water and maintain acceptable levels of hygiene and sanitation for everyone taking shelter in them. In addition, new water tanks have been installed in one neighbourhood in Damascus so that 2,500 displaced people and the communities hosting them will have an adequate supply of clean water.
The ICRC and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent will continue to assess and respond to the humanitarian situation in Damascus on a daily basis in order to meet the growing needs. As fighting continues in Syria, the International Red Cross and the Red Crescent Movement is still the only agency able to access many of the affected areas. The ICRC currently has 50 staff members working in Syria. Together with the Syrian Arab Red Crescent, they have been assisting tens of thousands of people affected since the onset of the violence.
For more details contact Rebecca Dunne, Irish Red Cross Communications Executive, 087 743 3275
Photo: Damascus, 21 July 2012. A house on fire in the suburb of Erbeen.