Since mid-July, fighting in and around Damascus has been escalating almost without interruption. The situation in many parts of Syria is currently edging towards irreversible deterioration. Assisting the fast-growing number of needy people is a top priority.
The ICRC is extremely concerned about the welfare of the civilian population. People suffer every day. Many have lost their jobs, others their breadwinner. It is difficult to meet even basic food needs and to obtain other essentials. Tens of thousands of people have been displaced over recent weeks, and most of them, often whole families, are completely dependent on humanitarian assistance provided by local communities, the ICRC, the Syrian Arab Red Crescent and others.
"People fear for their lives every minute of the day," said Marianne Gasser, the head of the ICRC delegation in Syria. "Humanitarian needs have risen sharply as civilians face ever more difficulty obtaining basic necessities, either because the items are not available in some parts of the country, or because the violence prevents people from going to get them."
Every day, dozens of people are killed in the fighting, and increasing numbers of people succumb to their wounds, unable to obtain medical care because of the fighting and the lack of medical supplies, or simply because medical care is not available in their areas. Health-care facilities that are still functioning are finding it more and more difficult to cope with the numbers of injured patients.
"In the wake of the fighting in Damascus in July, we decided to respond to fast-growing urgent needs by focusing our efforts on bringing aid to people affected by the fighting in the capital and in nearby areas," said Ms Gasser. "Since then, it has been very difficult for our teams to operate in areas outside the city because of ongoing armed confrontations."
In Aleppo, Homs, Idlib and other parts of Syria, humanitarian needs persist as armed confrontations continue. At times, the ICRC has had to adjust its working procedures in order to ensure that its assistance reaches as many people as possible with the least delay. Since mid-July, it has delivered humanitarian assistance to displaced people and others affected by the fighting together with or through the Syrian Arab Red Crescent, or in cooperation with local communities in and around Damascus and in Aleppo, Homs, Idlib and elsewhere.
Since mid-July, nearly 180,000 people have been given food and other essentials in and around Damascus and in Aleppo, Homs and elsewhere in the country. Since the beginning of the year, the ICRC has provided aid for over 800,000 people, most of them displaced.
The ICRC has been making sure that tens of thousands of people taking shelter in schools or with host communities in Damascus and elsewhere have enough clean drinking water. Since the beginning of the year, clean water has been provided by the ICRC for over one million people in Damascus, Rural Damascus and Homs.
Medical items provided for the Syrian Arab Red Crescent have been distributed in Aleppo governorate and elsewhere in the country. In addition, the Ministry of Health has been provided with enough medical supplies to treat between 2,500 and 7,500 people, depending on the seriousness of their injuries. So far this year, the ICRC has equipped four Syrian Arab Red Crescent mobile units in Damascus, Rural Damascus, Homs and Idlib to provide primary health-care services in schools accommodating displaced people. The ICRC has also equipped four emergency rooms and one operating theatre in Damascus run by the Syrian Arab Red Crescent.