Some Red Cross staff members leave Damascus

Photo by: Syrian Red Crescent / CC BY-NC-ND

Rising insecurity in the Syrian capital of Damascus has prompted the International Committee of the Red Cross to relocate some of its foreign staff members to neighboring Lebanon.

The move is only temporary and does not mean the ICRC is suspending humanitarian activities, spokesman Hicham Hassan said, as quoted byThe Associated Press. In fact, 50 local and foreign staff members of the medical organization will remain in the city.

“They will go back to Damascus at the appropriate time,” Hassan said.

ICRC’s move follows the decision of Syrian Arab Red Crescent on Wednesday (July 25) to suspend some operations in Aleppo, Syria’s largest city that is now besieged with heavy fighting. Heavy artillery, helicopters and tanks were reportedly already causing major civilian casualties in the embattled city.

“All this, taken along with the reportedbuild-upof forces in and around Aleppo, bodes ill for the people of that city,” U.N. human rights chief Navi Pillay said.

U.K. Foreign Secretary William Hague, meanwhile, said the situation could lead to a “devastating loss of civilian life and a humanitarian disaster,” Al-Arabiya News reports.

Some of the Syrian Arab Red Crescent’s suspended activities include ambulance missions and first aid services. Its other activities have also been brought down “to a minimum,” senior media officer of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies Jessica Sallabank said in an email.

Both organizations’ decisions are sure to affect the humanitarian situation in these two Syrian cities, where needs continue to grow.

Switzerland, meanwhile, has increased its humanitarian aid for Syria, which is now at $10.2 million. The money will help support Lebanese families who have taken in Syrian refugees.

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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.

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