Damascus/Geneva, 21 April 2016 – IFRC Secretary General, Mr Elhadj As Sy, has praised the courage and dedication of Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC) volunteers, and renewed his call for increased international support so that these efforts can be sustained. Speaking at the end of a visit to Syria, Mr Sy highlighted the work of volunteers who have been at the front line of the humanitarian response to the country’s half-decade long conflict.

“Yesterday SARC teams came under fire while on duty in Madaya and Zabadani. Despite this, they continued their mission of evacuating people, risking their lives for the sake of humanity,” said Mr Sy.

“Even when things are at their most difficult, there are people in every community that step forward to try to make life bearable for those who are suffering,” said Mr Sy. “Red Crescent volunteers are among these people. They are an inspiration to us, and it is the responsibility of all parties to ensure that they can carry out their work in safety.”

Since the conflict began in 2011, 53 SARC and 8 Palestine Red Crescent Society volunteers and staff have been killed in the line of duty.

“The international community must do a better job of supporting local actors, such as the Red Crescent, in their response to the crisis in Syria. More help is needed to ensure that these volunteers can continue their lifesaving work, and to ensure that their lives are protected,” he said.

More than 13.5 million people are in need of assistance throughout Syria. SARC, with the support of its partners, has been at the forefront of the humanitarian response since the beginning of the conflict, delivering aid to communities across the country. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has also played a critical role, including through the support it has provided to SARC.

These programmes include the distribution of cash and relief assistance, water, sanitation and hygiene promotion activities, and providing psychosocial support. SARC is the primary local provider of humanitarian assistance in Syria, reaching more than 4.5 million people every month.

In recent weeks, airdrops of relief to the isolated city Deir ez Zor have underlined the importance of SARC’s network of local volunteers. In collaboration with the World Food Programme, air-dropped relief supplies are now being distributed by Red Crescent volunteers to people throughout the city.

During his visit, Mr Sy saw a range of Red Crescent activities that are supported by the IFRC, including relief distributions and mobile health centres in Rural Damascus. He travelled to Homs, where he saw first-hand the positive impact of livelihood recovery projects on local communities. a growing programme of SARC that is supported by a broad range of Movement partners.

Mr Sy also met with the Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs, Dr Faysal Moukdad, and discussed the important role that the Red Cross Red Crescent has played in Syria to date, as well as the plans of the IFRC to support the growth and development of SARC.


For more information, please contact:

Louay Haddad, head of external relations and communications, SARC
E-mail: louay.haddad@yahoo.com ¦ Telephone: +963 11 332 7691

Stephen Ryan, communications coordinator – Middle East and North Africa, IFRC
E-mail: stephen.ryan@ifrc.org ¦ Twitter: @stiofanoriain ¦ Mobile: +961 71 802 779

Benoit Carpentier, team leader – public communications, IFRC
E-mail: benoit.carpentier@ifrc.org ¦ Twitter: @BenoistC ¦ Mobile: +41 79 213 2413

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Media contacts

Stephen Ryan
Communications coordinator – MENA, IFRC
E: stephen.ryan@ifrc.org
T: @stiofanoriain
M: +961 71 802779