Conditions worsen for civilians in Damascus
21-07-2012 Operational Update
In Damascus, people continue to search desperately for safety. Humanitarian needs are growing as the situation in the city worsens and as large numbers of people flee their neighbourhoods in search of safe haven. The ICRC and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent have intensified their response to the situation.
Civilians are seeking refuge with relatives and friends inside and outside Syria, in neighbouring countries like Lebanon. Their numbers are growing by the thousands every day. Many people have no one to turn to and are taking shelter in public buildings – in empty schools, often used by displaced people in various parts of Syria, and these days in Damascus as well.
"Because of the ongoing violence, various neighbourhoods in Damascus have been cut off from one another, and this is making it progressively more difficult for people to move," said Marianne Gasser, head of the ICRC’s delegation in Syria. "Every day presents new challenges for people trapped in the midst of the fighting: they are finding it harder and harder to go out and buy daily necessities or even to leave their homes."
Nearly 60 schools have now been opened in Rural Damascus to accommodate displaced families, most of whom are from the violence-affected areas of the city. According to internal estimates, over 11,800 people have sought shelter in these schools.
In Damascus itself, the ICRC is providing support for the Syrian Arab Red Crescent in preparing mobile health units, which will start serving several of the schools sheltering displaced people. Depending on the needs, more medical supplies will be provided. ICRC water engineers are monitoring the capacity of these schools to provide clean and drinkable water, with a view to maintaining acceptable levels of hygiene and sanitation.
Moreover, the Syrian Arab Red Crescent has started supplying 25 schools with relief items for those seeking shelter. The ICRC and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent, in close cooperation with local communities, have started preparing thousands of food parcels, mattresses and hygiene kits: these will be dispatched over the coming days to those who have been displaced.
The ICRC and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent's humanitarian activities are urgently needed, and will continue, despite the precarious conditions.
For further information, please contact:
Rabab Al-Rifaï, ICRC Damascus, tel: +963 993 700 847 or +963 11 331 0476
Samar El Kadi, ICRC Beirut, tel: +961 70 153 928
Alexis Heeb, ICRC Geneva, tel: +41 22 730 37 72 or +41 79 218 76 10