By Pawel Kryzsiek, head of communications, ICRC Syria, in Aleppo.
Hundreds of people continue to arrive daily at the collective shelters of Jibreen, while others are starting to return to their neighbourhoods, many of them devastated by the fighting. People often risked everything in their flight, walking hours to reach safety, as the frontline continued to move rapidly these past few hours and days. People are traumatised and exhausted, and many families found themselves separated from their families in the chaos. Many describe how they had to hide for days without seeing the sunlight, with no electricity, and how they were unable to go out to find food or water because of the violence.
The ICRC and our partner the Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC) continue to provide hot meals to thousands of people displaced in the collective shelters in Jibreen, and are working to improve shelter conditions, ensuring privacy to families seeking refuge there, as well as setting up latrines and showers, and delivering clean water. The ICRC is also helping families to restore contact with loved ones, and is supporting the SARC’s mobile medical units, rehabilitation of clinics, and delivery of medicines
In the heavily damaged neighbourhood of Masaken Hanano, one of the areas recently retaken by armed forces, the ICRC and SARC remain the only organisations responding to the needs of families who are returning there, by ensuring health services, working to ensure repairs to water networks, and delivering food and other emergency assistance.
In terms of water, with the SARC, we are carrying out repairs to critical water pumping stations in the city, in order to restore water supply to Eastern Aleppo (Bab Al Neirab station) and to increase the capacity of water delivery to the Western side (Suleiman Halabi station where other repairs have been ongoing). This should help restore and provide water to millions of people on both sides of the city.
As the military offensive continues, we remain extremely worried about the well-being of civilians who may still be remaining in the Eastern side. The most vulnerable, including the sick, the elderly, and injured, may be at particular risk. The health situation there is absolutely catastrophic, with only a few structures partially working, with very few staff and no medicines, fuel, or equipment. We call on all sides to exercise restraint and take all precautions to ensure civilians, wounded and sick are protected.