Journey through Some Humanitarian Activities Carried out by ICRC, SARC in Syria

Despite the extremely hot weather, a lot of Syrian persons have visited 'Athar' exhibition in Tekkiyh Mosque in Damascus in order to be briefed on humanitarian activities carried out by The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC) in Syria.

The three-day exhibition, opened Tuesday evening in the Tekkiyh Mosque, includes hundreds of photos taking you on a journey through the ICRC's humanitarian work through 50 years and the impact left on people in Syria and the impact Syrian people left through their stories, sorrows and concerns on the ICRC and its staff working in Syria.

 There are two large posters in the hall. One of them includes photos of around 470 ICRC staff from 32 countries working for one goal, namely, humanitarian service. The other large poster includes names of 63 volunteers and staff of the SARC, who have been martyred while carrying out their humanitarian duties.

Add to that, there is a screen broadcasting stories of 10 persons, who with small support from the ICRC and SARC run successful small business projects in cities of Homs, Aleppo and Banyas.

The e-Syriatimes newspaper's journalist interviewed Media Relations Delegate at ICRC Ingy Sedky to talk about the exhibition and cooperation between ICRC and Syrian government to respond to the needs of the persons affected by the ongoing crisis, which started in 2011.

"The ICRC has started its works in Syria since 1967- since the occupation of the Syrian Golan- in order to alleviate the suffering of Golan people. We carried out many activities such as transferring apples from occupied Golan into Syria, facilitating the passage of students from the occupied Golan to attend university in Damascus, delegating accompany collective wedding party to cross buffer zone in occupied Golan," Sedky said.

She pointed out that seven principles guide the work of the ICRC in Syria and around the world. "The principles are: humanity, impartiality, neutrality, independence, voluntary service, unity and universality."

"The ICRC does not take sides in hostilities or engage at any time in controversies of a political, racial, religious or ideological nature in order to gain the confidence of all. So, several prisoner swaps were conducted," she indicated.

Sedky made it clear that it was necessary to expand the ICRC works in Syria after the eruption of crisis in it. "Actually, the ICRC was not able to realize 10% of its achievements on the ground without the strong cooperation with the SARC."

The ICRC works closely with the SARC– which was founded in 1942- to provide food, water, healthcare and other forms of assistance to people affected by the fighting. The ICRC also assists families to know what happened to their loved ones. Its operation in Syria is the largest in the world, with over 400 staff working in its offices in Damascus, Aleppo, Tartous and Homs.

 Sedky also expressed admiration over Syrian people's ability to overcome obstacles, stressing that this ability gives hope to the ICRC Staff to do their duties.

"The ICRC do not only provide food and medicine, it has a lot of projects related to rehabilitating infrastructure, ensuring access to clean water ad a healthy environment andsupporting small businesses," she added.

She referred to the continuous cooperation with Syrian government in order to deliver aid to affected people.

The relation between Syria and the ICRC was described as 'good' by  Deputy Minister of Expatriates and Foreign Affairs Faisal al-Mikdad, who attended the opening ceremony of the exhibition held on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the start of the ICRC humanitarian work in Syria.

Syria respects international humanitarian law

"Syria's relation with the ICRC is good and it is based on the four Geneva conventions. We hope that this relation will be stronger through Syrian Arab Republic's belief in the ICRC's humanitarian role and through the belief of ICRC that Syria respects the international humanitarian law and provides all possible assistance for the work of this organization," he said.

On his part, the SARC's President Eng. Khaled Hboubati talked about fruitful cooperation between the SARC and the ICRC over the past years and especially during the crisis Syria is going through.

He asserted that the SARC volunteers perform their duties under difficult circumstances and they risk their lives for the benefit of all Syrians and work to save lives and serve all people.

'Athar' exhibition will leave an impact on us to offer the best services in cooperation with the ICRC," Hboubati concluded.

The journey of humanitarian work in Syria is full of sad and happy stories that worth reading on websites of the SARC and the ICRC.

Reported by: Basma Qaddour