Geneva (ICRC) – A statement from Mirjana Spoljaric, president of the International Committee of the Red Cross, following her visit to Syria from 9-14 February:
For more than a decade, people across Syria have experienced the devastation of armed conflict. When the 6 February earthquake struck the region, communities suffered dramatic levels of devastation no matter what side of the frontline they were on. Family and friends were killed, homes were destroyed, and people were displaced yet again. Medical care, safe drinking water, and reliable food supply sources immediately became crucial to survival.
Communities already devastated by the years of conflict are now being pushed beyond their limits. Indeed, it pains me to say that this natural disaster has broken people’s spirits. I spoke with residents sheltering in a school and a mosque in Aleppo who were enormously shaken by the devastation around them. Many of them had barely started re-building their lives after the fighting. Now they face a new crisis.
This week, I met with Syrian authorities to discuss the humanitarian needs across the region. I was encouraged by our conversations. We welcome any initiative to facilitate the delivery of humanitarian assistance to all communities in need, wherever they may be. I am determined that the ICRC be granted the guarantees to access all those in need, and that humanitarian assistance addresses both the needs caused by the earthquake and the conflict, such as medical care and damaged water infrastructure.
Since the earthquake, ICRC teams, in partnerships with the Syrian Arab Red Crescent, have been responding to urgent needs in Aleppo, Latakia and Tartous. We have set up emergency water trucking for families in shelters; we provided medical supplies to three hospitals to help treat the injured; we distributed more than 100,000 bottles of water and thousands of mattresses, cans of food and hygiene kits. In the coming days, we will distribute further assistance to 40,000 households to help meet essential needs, and we will increase our support to hospitals with surgical capacity. We will also help reconnect families separated from their loved ones.
The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement is on the ground responding to emergency needs of earthquake victims in Syria and Türkiye. Given the rising needs, the ICRC is seeking to raise more funds for its work to help victims of the earthquake across Syria and in Türkiye.
The ICRC stayed in Syria through more than a decade of conflict to help those in need; we are committed to supporting the Syrian people across the country and will do our utmost to help affected communities recover from this calamitous natural disaster.