Syria: ICRC-SARC condemn strongly the killing of a volunteer

Topics: Asia, International Humanitarian Law
June 25, 2012

 

(Ottawa) – A volunteer for the Syrian Arab Red Crescent, Bashar al-Youssef, was shot and killed Friday in Deir Ezzor, in eastern Syria. This is the fourth time since last September that a member of the Red Crescent has been killed while on duty.

The Canadians Red Cross joins its voice to that of the Syrian Arab Red Crescent and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in strongly condemn the shooting, further evidence of an extremely disturbing disregard for life-saving medical services in Syria. "We are shocked by Bashar’s death," said Dr Abdul Rahman al-Attar, the president of the Syrian Arab Red Crescent. "It is completely unacceptable."

"This comes at a time when the ICRC and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent are virtually the only organizations able to work in areas affected by the violence in Syria," said Alexandre Equey, the deputy head of the ICRC's delegation in Syria. "We take such incidents extremely seriously."

Mr al-Youssef was twenty-three years old. He was shot while on first-aid duty and succumbed to his wounds a few hours later. It must be noted that he was wearing a uniform clearly marked with the red crescent emblem. The Canadian Red Cross wishes to express its condolences to its sister National Society the Syrian Arab Red Crescent and to the family of Bashar al-Youssef.

This is the fourth killing of this kind since September 2011. On 24 April, a first-aid responder was shot and killed in the city of Douma. On 25 January, the secretary-general of the Syrian Arab Red Crescent, and president of its Idlib branch, was killed. In September 2011, a volunteer died when a Red Crescent ambulance was struck by bullets.

Since the beginning of the year, the ICRC and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent have assisted some 400,000 people in dire need of life-saving aid, in some of the most hard-hit areas in Syria. All their activities have been entirely impartial and neutral. This humanitarian work must be respected by everyone and at all times.

Medical personnel, medical facilities and ambulances must not be harmed. Health-care personnel, particularly Syrian Arab Red Crescent volunteers, must be able to provide aid unhindered and in safety. The red cross and red crescent emblems must be respected by all sides.