Syria update - Worrying situation despite ICRC efforts

Syria update - Worrying situation despite ICRC efforts - Photo courtesy of Reuter

Syria update - Worrying situation despite ICRC efforts - Photo courtesy of Reuter

As head of ICRC operations for the Near and Middle East, Béatrice Mégevand-Roggo has been actively involved in humanitarian negotiations with Syrian authorities and opposition groups to bring aid to Homs and evacuate the wounded and sick out of the Baba Amr district.

Here, Ms. Mégevand-Roggo provides an update of the humanitarian situation in Baba Amr and explains the challenges faced by the ICRC and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC) as teams in the field continue to seek access to victims of the violence. 

On February 21st, ICRC president Jakob Kellenberger called for a daily ceasefire of at least two hours for our teams to be able to deliver aid and evacutate the wounded and sick. Despite ongoing negotiations, ICRC and SARC teams have only been able to enter Baba Amr twice since that appeal. Clearly, the humanitarian situation in Homs is increasingly worrying for hundreds of civilians trapped by the fighting.

On Friday morning, Syrian authorities stopped an ICRC-SARC humanitarian convoy from entering Bab Amr, despite reassurances on Thursday that it would be allowed in.

Our call for a daily ceasefire last week generated considerable debate among humanitarians, academics and political authorities of all stripes. On February 27, the New York Times published a Letter to the Editor by Ms. Mégevand-Roggo in response to an op-ed by Anne-Marie Slaughter. She had called for armed "humanitarian corridors for the Red Cross and other groups" in Syria. Ms. Mégevand-Roggo reminds us why the blurring of the lines between politics and humanitarian action is particularly problematic in a context like Syria today.