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Red Cross calls for respect for humanitarian staff and volunteers in Syria

19 August 2013

On World Humanitarian Day, the British Red Cross is calling for respect for – and protection of – humanitarian workers in Syria, including volunteers. To date, more than 20 Syrian Arab Red Crescent workers have been killed during the conflict – many in the course of their duty.

The Red Cross asks everyone involved in the conflict to respect the relevant rules of international humanitarian law, the distinctive Red cross and Red crescent emblems, and the humanitarian mission of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement.

Attacks on volunteers must end

Syrian Arab Red Crescent volunteers come from various communities across the country and provide life-saving services under extremely difficult circumstances – often putting their own lives at risk.

Like all National Societies, the Syrian Arab Red Crescent is an impartial, neutral and independent organisation. It delivers critical life-saving assistance and aid to the people who need it most, when and where access is possible. Its neutrality is key to delivering humanitarian assistance to over two million people every month and enabling it to provide assistance in areas that are otherwise inaccessible to much of the population.

Essential aid must be delivered

The conflict in Syria has entered its third year and the fighting is growing more intense in major cities, including Aleppo and Damascus, as well as in rural areas. Every Syrian is affected, and in a number of ways.

Hundreds of people are wounded or killed every day. Thousands are in custody or have gone missing. Families are constantly on the move, in search of safe places. The destruction of infrastructure and homes – and the paralysis of industries, agriculture and livelihoods – is taking a heavy toll. Neighbouring countries are also severely impacted by the crisis.

Katy Attfield, head of disaster management at the British Red Cross, said: "Losing even one volunteer or member of staff during duty is a tragedy. We call upon all parties in Syria to facilitate safe and unhindered access by humanitarian workers, enabling them to help vulnerable people throughout the country.

"More than 2.1 million people receive aid every month through the Syrian Arab Red Crescent – and needs are increasing. It is vital that the Movement is able to continue providing help to people in dire need."

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