Andres Kruesi has just led the first joint ICRC/Syrian Arab Red Crescent team to Houla and Tal Kalakh (Homs Governorate). He describes the situation.
‘The area is called Houla there are about 5000 families, so we're talking about 30 - 35,000 people. We [the Red Cross Red Crescent] have been able to bring in the first batch of, primarily, food and are looking to take in the second batch next week. We have additional food parcels with medical items as well.
This area has been sealed off for 3 months in which time very little humanitarian aid had entered into this area. We have gained access with the consent of all the parties involved.
The second area is called Tal Kalakh, a small city on the border with Lebanon and is one of the early hotspots of fighting. It had been very intense and not a single house is unmarked, they are riddled with bullets. All sides here recently agreed on a ceasefire which we will now try to follow up with humanitarian aid.
The challenge over the next few weeks will be to follow up on this venture; to gain access to similar areas and to negotiate with all stakeholders. We now have a good network in Homs (Homs Governorate), where we have done similar operation for a few months now.
We have to replicate in other Governorates, including in rural Damascus, which now sees some of the heaviest fighting and some of the humanitarian issues are increasing here - just few kilometers from the delegation.’
The Irish Red Cross Syrian Crisis Appeal continues to support families affected by the ongoing conflict in Syria.