Communities in Syria have lived through more than 12 years of a deadly armed conflict and a devastating earthquake that caused further humanitarian suffering earlier this year. As the European Union hosts the Seventh Brussels Conference on ‘Supporting the Future of Syria and the Region’, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) urges immediate action to address the critical situation faced by the people in Syria. The cost of inaction would be unbearable, first and foremost for the populations.
In addition to the conflict and the recent earthquake, vulnerable communities must also overcome rampant inflation, economic recession, the collapse of public health services, the destruction of homes and the risk that crucial infrastructure may fail. Today, nearly 90% of Syrians live below the poverty line with more than 15 million needing humanitarian assistance, a trend that has been sustained over the past years.
The risk of collapse of Syria’s critical infrastructure is a pressing concern. The importation of replacement parts needed for the maintenance of critical infrastructure in major cities has been hindered by international restrictive measures and sanctions, which is why the ICRC continues to call for well-framed and standing humanitarian exemptions to be carved into sanctions regimes that have yet to do so. Most treatment plants are damaged, and are operating at a reduced capacity, which has led to worryingly low levels of access to potable water.
After the earthquake, the ICRC, in partnership with the Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC), stepped up its response to respond to the growing needs by providing essential relief items, health care, water, mental health support, and by rehabilitating facilities, mostly schools, used as shelter. Additionally, the ICRC, with the SARC, improved access to clean water and provided transformers to restore power supply.
"The international community must confront the harsh reality that the current situation in Syria is untenable, and failure to act will have dire consequences for all those involved and hinder any prospects for sustainable recovery,” says Fabrizio Carboni, the ICRC’s regional director for the Near and Middle East. "We cannot turn a blind eye to the suffering of the people in Syria. We must prioritize the preservation of critical infrastructure and provide comprehensive humanitarian responses.”
The ICRC appeals to donor states for an immediate international commitment to safeguard critical infrastructure and essential services, and to ensure that a comprehensive humanitarian response can be sustained while more durable solutions can be found. Coordinated efforts and increased funding are urgently needed to facilitate early recovery.
“The collapse of these essential services is not a distant threat but very much possible, with devastating consequences for the Syrian people, if more isn’t done to help prevent it” said Carboni. “By investing in meeting these vital needs, we can create a positive ripple effect. It will enable Syrians to at the very least gain access to a basic level of essential services, which can contribute to the process of rebuilding their lives and empowering humanitarian organizations to significantly enhance the effectiveness and impact of their assistance. Let’s act now.”
Note to Editors:
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), which has been present in Syria since 1967, is dedicated to addressing the needs of the Syrian population. Among its priorities are providing secure access to clean water and essential services for more than 12 million Syrians, ensuring economic security for over 3 million Syrians by facilitating access to food and income generation, and working to mitigate the dire consequences of weapon contamination in heavily affected communities. The ICRC is also actively engaged in supporting missing persons and detainees, as well as those stranded in camps with no prospects for a future, particularly vulnerable children.
About Al- Khafsa water station: Al Khafsa water station is one out of 7 water treatment plants /stations that the International Committee of the Red Cross ( ICRC ) and Syrian Arab Red Crescent Society (SARC) together with Aleppo Water Board Authority (WBA) are working to maintain in order to provide safe water to millions across Syria. Khafsa water treatment plant treats water from the AlAssad Lake, pump to several ground reservoirs, then distributed throughout the city. Several pumping stations are located along the khafseh -Aleppo channels and pumped treated water from the channel to wide distribution network covering villages in Eastern and Northern rural of Aleppo.
For more information, please contact:
Suhair Zakkout (Damascus) firstname.lastname@example.org, +963930336718
Imene Trabelsi (Beirut) email@example.com +961 3 138 353
Jessica Moussan (Dubai): firstname.lastname@example.org +971 50 425 4091
Length: 5.24 mns
Locations: Syria : Hassakeh and Aleppo
Date of Filming: May 2023 (Hassakeh), and June 2023/ November 2021/ (Aleppo)
Copyright: ICRC access all
On Screen Credit: ICRC
00:00 – 00:30 Broll External :Hassakeh drone footage showing Al-Khabor river (tributary to the Euphrates in Syria) almost dry.
00:30- 00:42 Broll External : Hassakeh : Women and children of the village pushing their water barrels towards the collective water tank for a fill up.
00:42- 00:46 Broll External : Hassakeh: Water trucking: People waiting in line to refill water.
00:46- 00:52 Broll External : : Hassakeh : People gathered around the water tank.
00:52- 01:02 Broll External :Hassakeh :Open Sewage in the Streets.
01:02- 2:17 Broll interview: Hadila Mahmoud, 42-year-old widowed and a mother of four children in the city of Hassakeh
Hadila/ Hassakeh: Hadila filling a water tank.
Hadila carrying water back to her home.
Close up: Hdaila washing the dishes in a pot.
2:17- 3:21 Soundbite: Hadila Mahmoud, 42-year-old widowed and a mother of four children in the city of Hassakeh
2:17- 2:29 We cannot afford buy water! If having access to water is that difficult, how can we call this a life?
2:29- 2:36 Can we call this a life? No, it is not. We are barely alive. This is far from being a life!
2:36- 2:39 It’s a daily struggle to get enough drinking water.
2:39- 2:47 We cannot find the water our children need. They can go for an entire month without bathing or showering.
2:47- 2:53 We use water we get for cooking and drinking. Sometimes there isn’t enough water to spare for meals preparation and cooking.
2:53- 2:59 The water we have access to from water trucking distributions makes our children sick. They get stomach infections and diarrhea.
2:59- 3:15 Water trucking distributions is not sufficient; you can hardly fill a bucket of water. People struggle to fill a bucket because the tank serves 200 households.
3:15- 3:21 If I wish to buy enough water for the family, I need 5 barrels for 150 to 200 thousand Syrian pounds a month (USD 22).
3:21- 3:36 Soundbite : Hadila talking to her family asking about the water truck schedule.
Mona, did the water truck arrive today?
No, not yet. It doesn’t come every day anyway. Sometimes we don’t see it for three or four days.
3:36- 3:58 Broll external: Flooded River drone footage
3:58- 4:27 Broll internal: Aleppo city: Shots from Suleiman al-Halabi, water pumping station (supported by the ICRC and SARC) in Aleppo city
4:27- 4:58 Soundbite : Martin Schüepp, ICRC Director of Operations From Al-Khafsa water treatment plant.
During my visit to Aleppo, many residents have told me of the devastating effect of the conflict
And how their lives have further been chattered by the recent earthquake
The international committee of the red cross together with the Syrian Arab Red Crescent.
is working hard to address their most pressing needs.
Here in Al-Khafsa water plant.
We have done urgent maintenance and rehabilitation works.
To ensure that over 3.5 million people in Aleppo and surroundings continue to have access to safe water.
4:58- 5:07 Broll internal: Khafsa water treatment plant supported by the ICRC and SARC.
4:27- 4:53Broll external : Syria, General Broll on water.
School Children washing hands at a collective faucet.