Two years after the outbreak of violence in Syria, humanitarian needs are greater than ever. Civilians continue to bear the brunt of the armed conflict and are struggling to survive hardship on a daily basis. They endure fierce fighting and a steady deterioration of living conditions, with no end in sight to their suffering.
''Hundreds are dying daily in Syria. Millions have been displaced inside the country while others have fled to neighbouring countries to live in harsh conditions,” said Robert Mardini, Head of Operations for the Near and Middle East at the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).
“Tens of thousands are missing or detained. Families are desperately seeking their loved ones, with no information available as to their whereabouts. Health standards have fallen dramatically, medical facilities have been targeted and health workers killed, intimidated or detained while trying to save lives. Property and infrastructure have been severely damaged, leaving large areas in rubble.''
The fate and condition of people detained in connection with the armed conflict remains an issue of extreme concern for the ICRC. "Despite repeated attempts to resume our visits to detainees, very little has been achieved so far. Today, we have no first-hand information on the situation of detainees and this is very worrying for us. We will continue to seek concrete action from the Syrian authorities that will allow us to visit detainees. This remains one of our top priorities,'' added Mardini.
"It is deplorable that high numbers of civilian casualties are now a daily occurrence to which people are unfortunately getting accustomed", said Mardini. "Many atrocities against civilians have been reported or witnessed over the past two years and we have also seen indiscriminate attacks against civilians and the targeting of health-care personnel and aid workers. These ongoing violations of international humanitarian law and of basic humanitarian principles by all sides must stop"
The parties to the conflict have not come close to a political solution, nor has the international community succeeded in negotiating an end to this armed conflict. At the same time and despite huge efforts made by a handful of humanitarian organizations on the ground, the aid provided to the Syrian people is far from meeting the ever growing needs.
The ICRC along with the Syrian Arab Red Crescent are doing more than ever before. Working across front-lines, they are delivering aid to some of the hardest-hit opposition and government-controlled areas. In the last three weeks alone, they had access to three opposition-held areas and distributed assistance in Homs, Hama and Idlib governorates. "Over the last two years millions have received aid, but it is not enough. Needs are growing at a faster pace than our ability to respond. Security constraints and lack of access to some areas prevent us responding as we should do".
"Today, we are not able to reach all the affected population. We very much believe that States should play a positive role by exerting stronger influence on those involved to secure greater respect for international humanitarian law. This would hopefully create an environment where impartial humanitarian action could take place in real time", concluded Mr. Mardini.
The Irish Red Cross Syria Crisis Appeal continues to support those affected by the ongoing conflict > www.redcross.ie/syria-crisis-appeal
Throughout Syria in 2012 the Irish Red Cross Syria Crisis Appeal has supported the distribution of:
• General food parcels for 1,390,000 people
• Canned-food parcels for 140,000 people
• Essential household items for 390,000 people
• School kits for 30,000 pupils
• Over 30,000 mattresses and blankets
• Kitchen sets for 20,000 families
• Hygiene sets for 50,000 families
• Clean drinking water for over a million people
Image: Tens of thousands of civilians have been killed since the beginning of the conflict in Syria. In this photo taken in Aleppo, people carry the body of a family member. © ICRC / R. Garcia Vilanova