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03-07-2013 | Latest News , MENA

Syria: Emergency Appeal


Emergency appeal increased to assist Syrian Arab Red Crescent at the most 'difficult and dangerous' time in its history

Beirut/Geneva - 3 July 2013 The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) has today revised its emergency appeal for Syria from CHF 39 million to approximately CHF 53.6 million in support of the Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC) response to the crisis. The increase reflects the worsening situation and growing needs of the people affected by the ongoing conflict.

According to the United Nations, an estimated 93,000 people have been killed and hundreds of thousands wounded since the unrest began in Syria over 2 years ago. In addition to direct conflict-related casualties, deaths rates continue to rise as a result of lack of access to basic services, including health care. Around 7 million people remain in need of urgent need of assistance, approximately 4.3 million civilians are now internally displaced.

"The humanitarian needs inside Syria have reached unprecedented levels and continue to increase, with millions now displaced inside the country." warned Bekele Geleta, IFRC Secretary-General. "At least four million people in Syria are in need of food assistance and the Red Crescent staff on the ground tell me this figure is likely to be much higher."

The price of staple food has in some areas of Syria increased by more than 100 per cent. The IFRC revised appeal includes an increase in the provision of food parcels and hygiene parcels for 150,000 persons per month, baby kits, female emergency kits, as well as support to SARC health activities.

More than 2 million people are now receiving assistance every month from SARC in collaboration with the IFRC, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) UN agencies and a number of national and international NGOs. SARC staff and volunteers, who are centred in 14 branches across the country, are on the front lines of the conflict 24 hours a day providing emergency support such as ambulances services and emergency first aid, emergency care in the mobile health clinics and the health points.

The SARC staff and 3,000 volunteers are often working under very difficult and dangerous conditions. To date, 20 SARC volunteers have lost their lives in the line of duty, the majority due to crossfire and shooting incidents.

"The situation facing our staff and volunteers is the most difficult and dangerous in our history," said Dr Attar, President of the Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC), which was founded in 1942. "Every day our teams are out there trying to help those caught up in the violence as much as they can. Our volunteers are seeing death, terrible injuries and destruction of entire neighbourhoods on a daily basis and it's clear we need more support from outside, both in terms of resources, but also in terms of moral support and solidarity."

SARC first aid teams, one of the main provider of ambulances in Syria, are facing growing challenges as the situation worsens. A number of ambulances have been stolen or damaged in crossfire and first aid teams have not always been able to access people in need due to security concerns. "Lack of safe access remains a big concern for us," said Dr Attar. "It is absolutely imperative that humanitarian workers can reach people in need without any obstacles.

Support to SARC 3,000-plus volunteers is also a major focus of the revised appeal. With 20 young volunteer lives now lost since the beginning of the crisis, more focus is being placed on volunteer protection, training and also on issues such as insurance and compensation both for volunteers and their families. "I don't think people on the outside have any idea about what we are up against", said one young SARC volunteer who remain anonymous. "Every day we go out to help, wondering if we will be able to reach people safely or if we will come home to our families. At the end of the day, we just want to help people, it's as simple as that."

For further information, please contact:

• Khaled Erksoussi, SARC Head of Operations, Damascus +963 993995955

• Leena Reiko, IFRC Syria Communications Delegate +961 71802483

Raefah Makki, IFRC Senior Communications Officer, IFRC MENA Zone, Beirut +961 70 258225

• Pierre Kremer, IFRC, Head of Communications, Geneva +41 792264832

• Jessica Sallabank, IFRC Media Relations, Geneva ¬+41 799481148

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