Following her visit to Idlib in northern Syria, the head of the ICRC’s Damascus delegation Marianne Gasser explains how the conflict is affecting people there and how the Red Cross and Red Crescent are responding.
Marianne led an ICRC team went to Idlib at the end of December, this was the first they had been able to make to Idlib in six months. The road was deserted and on the way the team saw villages that had been totally deserted by the inhabitants and homes that had been destroyed.
On reaching Idlib, the team visited a Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC) hospital. One of only two hospitals currently functioning - there were nine before the conflict started.
Red Crescent Volunteers and staff at the hospital told the team that they had had no water or electric for 12 days and that some equipment had been damaged in the fighting. They also lack a lot of medicine for chronic disease, especially for children and they requested medical materials.
The number of the displaced population has tripled in Idlib city. The majority of the displaced population are being hosted by relatives or friends and others are sheltering in schools and public buildings that lack basic facilities.
The acute needs of the population in Idlib city, and knowing that there are even further needs in several rural areas of Idlib Provence confirms that the ICRC needs to go back and provide support to all those in need.
Syrians who fled conflict at home and took shelter in neighbouring countries such as Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon, have been living away from their homeland for more than 18 months. It is estimated that 500,000 people have left Syria since the outbreak of violence in 2011, and while they wait for the opportunity to return, the Turkish Red Crescent Society is providing support and shelter, especially as the winter begins to deepen. the Turkish Red Crescent Society has set up 23,000 tents in 13 camps with a major winterization programme to ensure that tents are insulated with floor and top covers and that enough blankets and heaters are distributed to families so they can be warm during the harsh winter.
The Irish Red Cross Syria Crisis Appeal is continuing to support those affected by the ongoing Syrian conflict www.redcross.ie