Three years on: Red Cross calls for end to humanitarian tragedy in Syria

Topics: Worldwide, Emergencies and Disasters Worldwide
March 14, 2014

Ottawa, March 14, 2014 – Today, the Canadian Red Cross joins with Red Cross Red Crescent Movement partners around the world in calling for an end to the humanitarian tragedy in Syria.

“Three years into the crisis, the situation is grim,” said Canadian Red Cross Secretary General and CEO Conrad Sauvé. “Public services have broken down under the pressure of large-scale displacement and vast sections of the population have no access to suitable health care.”

With most of the population directly or indirectly affected, the scale of the crisis is staggering and the humanitarian response insufficient. Meanwhile, millions of people have sought refuge in neighbouring countries and struggle to rebuild a life from scratch, far from home.

From the onset of the crisis, the Syrian Arab Red Crescent has been the primary provider of humanitarian services, reaching more than three million people each month.

“In 2010, our focus was to assist over 140,000 Iraqis who had sought refuge in Syria, to prepare for natural disasters and to assist other National Societies during crises,” said Syrian Arab Red Crescent President Dr. Abdulrahman Attar. “Three years later, together with our International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement partners, we are providing impartial relief to millions of Syrians affected by the conflict.”

The conflict, however, has taken a heavy toll on Syrian Arab Red Crescent staff and volunteers. Thirty-four of their staff and volunteers have been killed while carrying out their humanitarian mission and many have been wounded.

The Red Cross Red Crescent Movement believes that to bring about a meaningful improvement of the humanitarian situation, the parties to the conflict need to rapidly allow the sick and the wounded to receive impartial medical care wherever they are, to permit food and medical supplies to be taken across front-lines, and in particular into besieged areas, and to authorize the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to visit people detained in connection with the conflict.

“International humanitarian law and humanitarian principles are non-negotiable – Syria is no exception,” said Peter Maurer, president of the ICRC. Without respect for international humanitarian law and humanitarian principles in Syria, meaningful assistance and protection are impossible.”

Humanitarian access to areas and persons directly affected by the conflict is currently insufficient and is the most pressing issue for the Red Cross Red Crescent Movement. The Movement has repeatedly called for the protection of health care and humanitarian personnel, and continues to strongly urge all parties to respect and facilitate their humanitarian mission.

B-Roll: http://www.redcross.ca/who-we-are/newsroom