Heavy fighting in Aleppo plagues lives of hundreds of thousands
Damascus/Geneva (ICRC) – Humanitarian needs in Aleppo are enormous, according to personnel from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) who have just concluded a five-day visit to Aleppo governorate together with the Syrian Arab Red Crescent.
During the visit, they gauged the humanitarian situation and delivered much-needed medical assistance.
"There are tens of thousands of displaced people in the governorate with no income and no savings who depend on assistance to survive," said Marianne Gasser, head of the ICRC delegation in Syria, upon her return from the governorate. "Apart from the pressing humanitarian needs, several roads, hospitals, schools, other public facilities and world heritage sites have been damaged. Essential public services such as the distribution of power and water have also been disrupted as a result of the heavy fighting that has plagued the governorate over the past nine months."
The ICRC has been unable to return to Aleppo since July of last year because of the ongoing fierce fighting. However, the Syrian Arab Red Crescent never stopped delivering food and household essentials, with ICRC support. In addition, the ICRC ensured that potable water was available to the population. "Our trip to Aleppo is an important step forward. It is a good example of how continuous dialogue with all parties concerned yields results, and makes it possible to reach people in need, including in opposition-controlled areas," added Ms Gasser.
Together with the Syrian Arab Red Crescent, the ICRC visited a number of different areas in the governorate, including opposition-held territory in the eastern parts of Aleppo city such as Bustan Al-Qasr and Masaken Hanano, and Manbij in Rural Aleppo. "During these visits, we assessed humanitarian needs and spoke to people suffering the effects of the violence to better understand their needs as well as the situation," said Ms Gasser.
Working with the Syrian Arab Red Crescent and the local water boards, ICRC water engineers surveyed the effect the fighting has had on the supply of clean drinking water in the city of Aleppo and surrounding rural areas. "We are planning to go forward with a number of upgrades and to provide support that will help the Aleppo water board solve some of the problems it is facing," said Antonio Bolinches, an ICRC water engineer who participated in the visit.
ICRC health personnel also visited the governorate and checked on a number of health-care facilities, where they provided much-needed medical supplies and drugs for chronic diseases.
The Syrian Arab Red Crescent branch in Aleppo was highly involved in the activities carried out during the visit. "These young volunteers are doing tremendous work on the ground," said Ms Gasser. "I was moved by their dedication and commitment to helping everyone in need – irrespective of where they are."