How does Australian Red Cross play an ongoing role in Syria and Iraq?
Wednesday October 1, 2014
Red Cross Red Crescent Movement continues to deliver aid to millions as conflict worsens in Syria and Iraq (Photo: ICRC/A. Alkhatib)
Australian Red Cross stands together with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), who last week appealed to all parties in the widening conflicts in Syria and Iraq to spare civilians and let in aid.
Years of fighting in Syria and Iraq have left a mounting humanitarian toll.
After three brutal years of civil war in Syria the death toll has reached 191,000 people, there are now more than 3 million registered refugees, and more than 6 million people are internally displaced by the conflict.
Fighting in Iraq has displaced over 1.5 million people and Red Cross has delivered food, drinking water, relief items and medical assistance to more than one million people since January.
Their need is great. Families who have fled their homes, leaving all their belongings behind along with the means to work, who don't have enough food, water or basic necessities and only limited access to basic health services. They are reliant on the generosity and goodwill of others for their survival. The UN Refugee Agency says more than half the 6 million people displaced in Syria are children.
Red Cross Red Crescent is responding on two key fronts.
As the conflicts in Syria and Iraq continue to worsen, we continue to respond in the field on two key fronts. Our people are delivering life-saving humanitarian aid in conflict zones. We are also urging all sides of the conflict to uphold international humanitarian law, which protects civilians, the sick and wounded and medical personnel who are not involved in the hostilities, along with homes, hospitals and schools.
The ICRC has been working with the Syrian Arab Red Crescent Society to deliver clean drinking water to 80 percent of people in Syria. So far this year they have delivered food and basic aid to more than 3.8 million people.
In Iraq, the ICRC has delivered food, drinking water, other relief items and medical assistance to more than a million people in crisis since the beginning of the year, while the Iraqi Red Crescent has been helping people affected by fighting across the country.
Carrying out humanitarian activities in such a complex and highly dangerous environment also comes at a price. 36 Syrian Arab Red Crescent and seven Palestine Red Crescent Society volunteers and staff have lost their lives since the beginning of the conflict in Syria, even though they worked under the protection of our emblems.
The Red Cross Red Crescent movement is unified in its mission to deliver neutral, impartial and independent humanitarian aid to people who are suffering, and to treat people on all sides with humanity and dignity. Our Movement works together with an unwavering commitment to protect aid workers and civilians, and provide relief to the millions of people who have been displaced by these brutal conflicts.
What is Australian Red Cross' role in Syria and Iraq?
Firstly, we are still running the Syria Crisis Appeal to support our international colleagues. I urge you to donate generously to help those aid workers provide daily needs like food, water, health care and shelter to the millions of people who are still in great need.
Secondly, Australian Red Cross aid workers and delegates have been going to Syria and Iraq since 2012 to assist the ICRC and local national societies to deliver emergency aid relief, water and sanitation and health services. More recently we have sent aid workers to Lebanon and Jordon, the latter in support of the refugee initiatives, and one of our delegates travelled to Iraq to report the work of the Iraqi Red Crescent Society in the field.
Importantly, we continue to urge governments of all persuasions to show compassion and humanity towards the millions of displaced children and their families who face such a desperately uncertain future, and to uphold the international humanitarian laws that protect both civilians and the brave aid workers and healthcare workers who are caught up in the conflict.
CEO, Australian Red Cross