The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement calls for the urgent protection of health care personnel and aid workers

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Statement / Geneva / Damascus - 25 March 2013

The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement expresses its deep concern over the lack of respect of the parties to the conflict in Syria to the Movement’s protective emblems and the associated risks to the lives of hundreds of health care providers and humanitarian workers, including volunteers and workers from the Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC), 17 of whom have been killed while carrying out their humanitarian duties since the conflict began.

On Sunday 3 March, SARC staff member Mohieddine Mahmoud was killed while on duty in Damascus’s Jobar neighbourhood, close to the organization’s health centre. His death was a result of heavy shelling in the area. On Thursday, 21 March a SARC ambulance was shot at in the Qaboun district of Damascus, during a patient transfer. On Monday 4 March, heavy clashes in the vicinity of the SARC branch in al-Raqqa forced its volunteers to evacuate the premises. Two clearly marked vehicles used to provide much needed assistance across the governorates were later stolen from the premises. Two ambulances were also stolen from the SARC centre in Shabaa district in Damascus at the end of February.

Amid the extremely difficult conditions prevailing in Syria today, it is absolutely essential that all parties to the conflict facilitate the work of all humanitarian workers and health care personnel, by respecting the Red Crescent and Red Cross emblems displayed on premises, vehicles and clothing.

SARC, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) together call for the immediate protection of health care providers and humanitarian workers and ask all parties to respect and facilitate their humanitarian mission. Without this protection and respect for the emblems, crossing frontlines to save lives and offer vital assistance will become almost impossible.

The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement endeavours to meet the needs of the Syrian people affected by the violence inside the country and to offer life-saving relief assistance in neighbouring countries, which are now providing refuge to over one million people who have fled the violence.