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Red Cross calls for preservation of humanitarian access in northeast Syria

Concern for the welfare of thousands of people caught in the ongoing hostilities in northeast Syria needs to be first and foremost, the Red Cross says.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the Australian Red Cross call on all actors in the region to preserve space for humanitarian action so that people can receive the help they need.

Any development that threatens the welfare of people in the area – whether in camps, detention, or their own villages and towns – is one that the Red Cross Movement takes seriously.

With thousands of people fleeing areas affected by hostilities, the ICRC and Syrian Arab Red Crescent are trying to assess and respond to these new, urgent humanitarian needs.

“Across Syria, the humanitarian needs are immense,” said Australian Red Cross Acting Director of International Programs Michael Annear.

“Our thoughts are with the families and communities across the world who have close connections with those who are most vulnerable in this conflict.”

The ICRC, together with its Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement partners, is trying to meet the humanitarian needs in what is already an incredibly complex environment.

In northeast Syria, more than 100,000 displaced people are seeking shelter in makeshift camps.

“In Al-Hol camp alone, there are more than 40,000 children who have experienced more violence, trauma and displacement in their short life than any of us can imagine,” said Fabrizio Carboni, ICRC Regional Director for the Near and Middle East.

“And this is just one camp in the area.”

The Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement has been visiting camps and places of detention in Syria, doing its best to support communities in dire need of humanitarian services.

All people participating in the fighting are obliged by law to spare civilians and those not taking part in hostilities. Civilian infrastructure, providing essential services to Syrian communities, is also not a target.

Health workers and personnel and objects bearing the emblem of the Red Cross or Crescent are similarly protected.

Eight years since the conflict started, close to 12 million people require humanitarian aid in Syria. One in two health facilities are out of service or damaged. More than two million children are unable to attend school.

Preserving the space for humanitarian action is vital for the Syrian communities hit hardest by conflict.

For further information, please contact:

Matt Fisher, Australian Red Cross, mfisher@redcross.org.au, +61 466 516 359

Pat Griffiths, ICRC Mission in Australia, pgriffiths@icrc.org, +61 418 485 120

Ruth Hetherington, ICRC Geneva, rhetherington@icrc.org, +41 79 447 37 26