Fire douses Red Cross aid distribution in Homs

A Syrian Arab Red Crescent aid convoy. The SARC warehouse in Homs was set on fire. Photo by: Syrian Red Crescent / CC BY-NC-ND

Who set Syrian Arab Red Crescent’s warehouse in the heavily besieged city of Homs on fire?

Saleh Dabbakeh, spokesman for the International Committee of the Red Cross in Damascus, told Beirut-based news agency Al-Akhbar that the building was razed to the ground. Dabbakeh, however, refused to comment on what — or who — may have caused the incident.

Homs, often referred to as the capital of the revolution, has seen some heavy government shelling since the start of the uprising last year. The Red Cross negotiated with the government for weeks to allow its local chapter to provide a “steady supply” of aid and medical care to devastated areas in the city, including Baba Amr. And on March 1, the Syrian government gave the Red Cross permission to enter the district to deliver food and medical aid to people sandwiched in the fighting.

No casualties were reported in the fire, but the incident has stalled the organization’s operations in the city. A source close to the Syrian Arab Red Crescent told Reuters the organization was supposed to distribute aid the day the warehouse was burned to the ground.

“Somebody set fire to that building. People knew what that building was, and what was in it,” the source said.

The Syrian Arab Red Crescent is the only major aid group that has access to Syrians affected by the fighting in the country. But several journalists and Syrian activists view the organizations as too closely tied to the government — a perception that has brought serious problems to the organization in terms of donor support.

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About the author

  • Jenny Lei Ravelo

    Jenny Lei Ravelo is a Devex Senior Reporter based in Manila. She covers global health, with a particular focus on the World Health Organization, and other development and humanitarian aid trends in Asia Pacific. Prior to Devex, she wrote for ABS-CBN, one of the largest broadcasting networks in the Philippines, and was a copy editor for various international scientific journals. She received her journalism degree from the University of Santo Tomas.