The impact of fighting on the humanitarian situation has increased significantly since December. People have been killed or wounded and tens of thousands have fled their homes, leaving behind most of their belongings. The ICRC and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC) continue to help those most affected by the fighting.
"As the fighting fluctuates, the ICRC and the SARC have to adapt their humanitarian response, in order to locate people who have fled and to help them as quickly and as effectively as possible," said Béatrice Mégevand-Roggo, ICRC head of operations for the Middle East.
"People have to know that they will get the help they need and that casualties will be taken care of regardless of where the fighting is taking place," Ms Mégevand-Roggo explained. "A daily pause of at least two hours in the fighting is essential in order to provide humanitarian assistance."
In recent weeks, ICRC/SARC teams have been able to visit areas affected by the fighting such as Homs, Idlib, Hama, and Dara'a. Better access to these areas has enabled them to help thousands of people affected by the fighting and insecurity and by the very difficult economic situation that has resulted.
Alexandre Equey is the deputy head of the ICRC delegation. He led an ICRC team who went into Idlib recently. "ICRC and SARC teams have been granted wider access to the city of Idlib and the surrounding villages of Binnish and Fo'a this week," he explained. "We met many people who told us about their needs, and we will be helping them over the coming days. This was the first time we managed to visit those villages," he added.
Food, blankets and mattresses for thousands of displaced persons and residents
In recent days, nearly 9,000 people have received aid in Homs and Idlib provinces, and more supplies have been delivered by truck to the Syrian Arab Red Crescent for distribution in the coming days.
Three trucks reached Aleppo on 20 March with 1,500 food parcels for people in the city and in rural areas of Aleppo province. So far, nearly 3,000 people have received aid in Manbij, Al-Bab, Maskanah, and in Jarablus and Ayn Arab along the border with Turkey. Over 350 people who fled to Aleppo from Homs and Idlib have received aid. More distributions are planned for Saturday, 24 March.
Four trucks entered Idlib on 20 March with 2,000 food parcels. The ICRC and the SARC distributed food parcels to 6,000 displaced persons and residents.
"People had been waiting since early morning," said Jeroen Carrin, an ICRC relief delegate who was present at the distribution. "The ICRC was the only international organization to bring aid into the city."
"I went to see how the SARC Idlib branch clinic was coping, after the difficult period they went through before our arrival," said Regula Frei, the ICRC health delegate who was part of the same team. "The clinic was the only medical facility functioning in the town centre."
Trucks carrying 1,800 food parcels, 1,200 mattresses, 1,200 blankets and 600 hygiene kits reached Za'afaranah, in Homs province. Nearly 3,000 displaced persons received aid on 19 and 20 March, along with a number of host families.
The ICRC and the SARC visited eight schools in Za'afaranah, Dir al-Foul, Al-Sein and Al-Majdal, all of which are accommodating displaced people, mostly from Al-Rastan, but also from Talbiseh and other villages and towns. Pre-registered families that have taken refuge in the schools received hygiene and food parcels.
Photo: Idlib, Syria. A woman collects an aid parcel.© ICRC / M. Al-Zuabi