Weeks after Hurricane Matthew hammered the Caribbean, the American Red Cross continues to support emergency relief efforts in communities devastated by the storm.
Heavy rainfall over the past few days is worsening conditions in storm-battered Haiti, causing further flooding in areas already ravaged by Matthew. More people are seeking shelter and additional roads have become inaccessible, making it increasingly difficult to reach hard-hit communities.
Nearly 200 American Red Cross staff members—over 90 percent of whom are Haitian nationals—continue to support global Red Cross network efforts to distribute temporary shelter supplies and other relief items, such as mosquito nets and kitchen kits. To mitigate the spread of cholera as a result of flooding, the American Red Cross is also helping to distribute hygiene kits and cholera- prevention kits, specifically targeting medical facilities.
Additionally, we’re assisting the Haitian Red Cross with logistics, communications and financial resources, as well as supporting its key coordination role with local authorities and other humanitarian organizations. And we’re offering remote information management and mapping support to assist humanitarian workers on the ground.
Teams from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and Syrian Red Crescent are evacuating people from eastern Aleppo, where buses and ambulances have crossed battle lines to help civilians leave the besieged part of the Syrian city.
"We have to do something because tomorrow might just be too late,” pled the ICRC’s Pawel Krzysiek in this video from Aleppo.
ICRC has been negotiating with all sides in the conflict to prevent further human suffering in the besieged city. “We urge the parties to consider the fate of civilians trapped by the ongoing fighting and do their utmost to spare and protect them. This may be the last chance to save lives,” wrote ICRC on December 13.
"In order for this to happen, we appeal to the parties to put humanity ahead of military objectives", said ICRC's, Marianne Gasser, currently in Aleppo. "We stand ready to oversee the implementation of any mutual agreement that puts civilians first. We cannot urge this strongly enough: this must happen now."
A cease-fire was finally negotiated and today’s evacuation able to take place. Red Cross and Red Crescent teams have helped evacuate approximately 1,000 civilians, including 300 kids and 28 wounded from East Aleppo today. Some of the seriously wounded being taken to Turkey.
Residents have faced weeks of bombings, food and fuel shortages and lack of facilities to treat the sick and injured with medical facilities in Aleppo largely reduced to rubble. The health situation there is absolutely catastrophic, with only a few structures partially operating and very limited staff, medicines, fuel, and equipment.
“We have seen in the past weeks when we heard the stories of the people who fled eastern Aleppo how much risks those people take; how many impossible choices they have to make in order to reach safety,” stated Krzysiek.
The Red Cross network mourns the death of Yasser Lakmoush, a Syrian Red Crescent volunteer. Mr Lakmoush was killed while on duty in Idlib on 15 December 2016 in an incident in which several others were also injured. He was a dedicated first aid volunteer who had worked for the Idlib branch of Syrian Red Crescent for more than three years.
Earlier this month, the Red Cross and Red Crescent conducted a joint operation to evacuate nearly 150 civilians from Aleppo. "These patients and civilians had been trapped in the area for days because of heavy clashes nearby and as the front line kept drawing closer," ICRC’s Glasser said. "Many of them could not move and needed special attention and care. It must have been terrifying for them." 118 patients were taken to Aleppo's Al-Razi, University or Ibn Khaldoun hospitals, while 30 men, women and children, were transferred to shelters in Western Aleppo. Six orphaned and very young children were among the evacuees.
Tragically, for some, the operation came too late: 11 people died before the Red Cross and Red Crescent teams were able to reach them. They were either caught in the crossfire or died because they did not have access to the right medications. The Red Crescent also evacuated their human remains, so they can be properly identified and returned to their families, and accorded the appropriate funeral rites.
This year, ICRC has carried out 55 cross frontline operations in Syria, bringing food and essential aid to 8 million of people—and clean water to millions more. Thanks to joint efforts with the Syrian Red Crescent, teams are able to help people in areas that no other humanitarian organization can reach. But the scale of the crisis is greater than anything the teams have faced in the last 15 years.
ICRC and the Syrian Red Crescent continue to provide hot meals to thousands of people displaced in the collective shelters in Jibreen, and are working to improve shelter conditions, ensuring privacy to families seeking refuge there, as well as setting up latrines and showers, and delivering clean water. The ICRC is also helping families to restore contact with loved ones, and is supporting the Red Crescent’s mobile medical units, rehabilitation of clinics, and delivery of medicine. For the sake of civilians—and in line with its seven fundamental principles—the global Red Cross Red Crescent network remains committed to act as a neutral and impartial humanitarian intermediary.
As their lifesaving work continues, the American Red Cross has committed $100,000 to the ICRC. Over the past five years, the American Red Cross has spent and committed more than $2.5 million on relief efforts in Syria and its neighboring countries affected by conflict—such as Iraq, Turkey, Lebanon, and Jordan. This, in addition to more than $700,000 to help Red Cross teams cope with the Europe migration crisis.
If you or someone you know has lost contact with a loved one in Syria due to the conflict, the Red Cross may be able to help you reconnect. Please call 844-782-9441 for more information.
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), working alongside the Syrian Arab Red Crescent and the United Nations, has begun to deliver vital aid to three besieged areas in Syria. Convoys delivered food, medical items and supplies, blankets, baby milk and other essential health care items to tens of thousands of people in Madaya, Kefraya and Foua.
The populations in all three areas were found to be living in appalling conditions. Head of ICRC delegation in Syria, Marianne Gasser, said action needs to be taken now to help the more than 400,000 Syrians currently living in blockaded areas across the country.
“The scenes we witnessed in Madaya were truly heartbreaking,” Gasser said. “People are desperate. Food is in extremely short supply. It is the elderly, women and children who are suffering the most, especially from severe malnourishment. The conditions are some of the worst that I have witnessed in my five years in the country. This cannot go on."
Across Syria, around 4.5 million people living in hard-to-reach areas continue with limited access to basic life-saving assistance and protection. Almost 400,000 of them live in areas with little or no access to basic supplies or assistance. There has been growing international concern about the suffering of thousands of people in these areas. The ICRC will concentrate on delivering medical assistance.
ICRC has called for the end of all sieges, saying that, there needs to be unconditional, rapid and regular access given for humanitarian convoys to all areas in Syria. Many people need urgent medical treatment and the lack of food has made the situation even worse.
There are believed to be around 40,000 people in Madaya and around 20,000 people in Foua and Kefraya. The operation has been brokered by the UN with the agreement of the different parties on the ground.
"The suffering is intense. Aid agencies must be given safe and unimpeded access to all these people to provide them with the aid they need, especially now in the midst of winter," said Gasser.
Since the beginning of the crisis nearly five years ago, Syrian Arab Red Crescent staff and volunteers have navigated the deteriorating security situation at great personal risk. The largest provider of humanitarian services in Syria, 40 Syrian Arab Red Crescent and seven Palestinian Red Crescent staff and volunteers have lost their lives while providing assistance to people in need. More than a dozen SARC volunteers have been detained with no information on their whereabouts.
The ICRC has 350 staff working in different areas of Syria. They help provide food, water, medicine, shelter and other essential items. It is the ICRC's biggest operation in the world today.
Over the past four years, the American Red Cross has spent and committed more than $2.5 million on relief efforts in Syria and its neighboring countries affected by conflict such as Iraq, Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan. As the crisis continues, the American Red Cross is providing information management and mapping support to the global operation to ensure that Red Cross and Red Crescent chapters are not responding independently of each other, but rather, have greater situational awareness of the broader crisis. This allows for informed decision-making at a global level and is essential for an emergency of this scale, which can overwhelm local Red Cross and Red Crescent branches. The American Red Cross also provided 10,000 cots to help families fleeing Syria in Germany.