29 October 2013
For further information contact:
Penny Sims 020 7877 7044 / PSims@redcross.org.uk
On call mobile: 0771 0391703
On the 150th anniversary of the founding of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, its organisations are making an unprecedented call for all parties to the conflict in Syria to guarantee the safety of aid workers and ensure their unimpeded, immediate access to people in need across the country.
The Movement is calling on all parties to respect the work of the Red Cross and Red Crescent, and for all those who have an influence on the ground to help them ensure aid can reach those most in need.
Since hostilities began, twenty-two Syrian Arab Red Crescent volunteers have been killed while on duty, many have been injured, and ambulances have been fired upon and in some cases stolen. All this as aid workers try to deliver vital aid and services to as many as 2.5 million people each month.
Sir Nick Young, British Red Cross chief executive, said:
“Today we are standing in solidarity with our friends and colleagues in the Syrian Arab Red Crescent to say enough is enough. Across Syria, volunteers are risking their lives to bring vital aid to people in desperate need. Intentional targeting of aid workers, who play no part in the conflict and who simply seek to help those most in need, is unacceptable. This must stop. The Movement is asking all parties to the conflict to respect humanitarian workers and allow them to work in safety.”
“At least nine million Syrians, half of whom are children, continue to suffer the devastating consequences of an armed conflict that has been tearing the country apart for over two years. The humanitarian tragedy that continues unabated in Syria today is deplorable. In particular, more must be done to ensure aid reaches the neediest.”
“Our fundamental principles of neutrality, impartiality and independence are as relevant today as they were 150 years ago. It’s because of these principles that we are able to work in conflict zones such as Syria, but we need all fighting parties to respect these values.”
The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement started in 1863, inspired by a Swiss businessman, Henry Dunant. He had been appalled at the suffering of thousands of men, on both sides, who were left to die due to lack of care after the Battle of Solferino in 1859. Dunant proposed the creation of national relief societies, made up of volunteers, trained in peacetime to provide neutral and impartial help to relieve suffering in times of war.
To mark their 150th anniversary, Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies around the world are expressing solidarity with the Syrian Arab Red Crescent and remembering the twenty-two aid workers who have been killed. British Red Cross volunteers will be taking part in photo-calls in London, Cardiff, Liverpool and Glasgow holding photos of the volunteers who have lost their lives.
The Syrian Arab Red Crescent has suffered a number of incidents in recent months, including:
• On 21 October, a Red Crescent volunteer was injured trying to bring aid to Aleppo prison.
• On 27 August, two volunteers were killed by a mortar which landed in front of the SARC Homs branch office.
• On 4 August, a first aid point in Tijara was hit by a mortar and two Red Crescent volunteers were hospitalised.
• On 28 July, nine Red Crescent volunteers, two staff and three citizens were injured in a mortar shelling at the distribution point in al-Qusayr.
• In May, the ambulance garage in a Red Crescent branch in Homs was attacked, taking all six ambulances out of action.
• In April, a branch in Raqqa was taken over by armed men, forcing volunteers to evacuate and set up facilities in another building.
To donate to the British Red Cross Syria Crisis Appeal go to redcross.org.uk/syriacrisis or call 0300 023 0821.
For case studies and spokespeople please contact Penny Sims (email@example.com, +44 207 877 7044 / 07659 145 095)
For photos showing the Syrian Arab Red Crescent in action, go to http://avlibrary.redcross.org.uk/ef/ixbin/hixclient?id=d6321cdacdb02eb4766329bc405cd4f3
Notes to editors
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The British Red Cross helps people in crisis, whoever and wherever they are. We are part of a global voluntary network, responding to conflicts, natural disasters and individual emergencies.
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