Damascus/Geneva, 23 February 2018 – The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement is today issuing an urgent plea for all parties to demonstrate restraint and humanity in Eastern Ghouta, on the northern edge of the capital Damascus.
The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement is also repeating its seven-year long call for parties to respect the neutrality of humanitarian personnel and infrastructure. The Syrian Arab Red Crescent’s Douma and Harasta sub-branches have been damaged in recent days, with a number of volunteers injured, including three in Douma.
In addition, the head of the Red Crescent’s Idlib branch, Mohammed Abdulkader Wittee, disappeared on 17 February as he travelled between Ariha and Idlib.
This appeal comes following days of escalating violence in Eastern Ghouta.
“The SARC has already paid a heavy price, with more than 60 staff and volunteers killed in the line of duty since 2011,” said Robert Mardini, Regional Director for the Near and Middle East at the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). “It is in times like this that their role is most important. Their security must be protected.”
Over the past week, the Syrian Arab Red Crescent has provided food, medication and other items to about 1,440 families in Eastern Ghouta. But more support is desperately needed.
“Our plea is for decency, for all parties to show restraint. Words may be failing, but we will continue to use them: spare civilians; respect our neutral, humanitarian focus; respect and protect Red Crescent volunteers; stop the fighting,” said Sayed Hashem, the incoming Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.