Georgetown University's Center for Contemporary Arab Studies is hosting a panel discussion on Wednesday, February 24, examining humanitarian access to besieged areas in Syria.
The ICRC's DC-based "Protection of Civilians" delegate, Peter Giugni, will serve on the panel. Pete recently traveled to Syria, where he heard from colleagues on the ground about the challenges they've faced in getting much-needed help to besieged towns such as Moadamiyeh, where the the ICRC and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent managed to deliver food, hygiene supplies, and medicine for over 10,000 people at the start of February.
"People in besieged areas count every day of their life as a bonus. They have so little to survive on. They want us to bring relief regularly and that's what we are continuously asking for," says the ICRC's head of delegation in Syria, Marianne Gasser, who led the team which entered Moadamiyeh. In a recent op-ed, Marianne talked about siege and suffering, and the unbearable, heartbreaking situation for people in Moadamiyeh and dozens - potentially hundreds - of other areas, where humanitarian assistance is desperately needed in the country.
As Marianne points out in the op-ed, the war has been raging for five years... 250,000 people are dead; 13 million are in need of help. Nearly half a million are living in besieged areas. What is needed is a genuine and sustained effort to alleviate that suffering. At the moment, that is just not happening.
That's one of the issues Pete will talk about on Wednesday, including the importance for aid agencies to have unimpeded and regular access to besieged areas - and all civilians cut off from help by the fighting. He'll also be speaking about the logistical difficulties involved in reaching besieged towns and cities, as well as how siege warfare is covered by International Humanitarian Law.
The event is free and runs from 12:30 to 2:00pm. Visit the registration page here.
Interested in Syria? Follow ICRC President Peter Maurer's visit to the country this week.