On 25th of March, a team from the Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC) and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) headed to the governorate of Deir Ezzor to assess the water related needs and offer logistical and technical support in different parts of the governorate.
Mr. Soufian Toumah, SARC’s branch manager in Deir Ezzor explains the importance of the visit saying that: “We have managed to deliver aid to a number of areas that have been inaccessible over the past ten months. We have also successfully crossed frontlines and negotiated a humanitarian pause”.
Following months of fierce fighting, the situation in Deir Ezzor is becoming increasing difficult especially in the eastern parts of Deir Ezzor that have have been cut off from the rest of the governorate for several months. Mr. Toumah says: “People in this part of the governorate are in need of urgent help. The humanitarian needs are immense and the living conditions are miserable”.
SARC and ICRC teams both attested to the big humanitarian needs in the governorate during their visit. They also witnessed the disruption of essential municipal services such as garbage collection, water and power provision. Furthermore, they also reported that the health and the education sector are experiencing big difficulties to operate properly and cover the needs. They also witnessed people’s needs for basic essentials including food, chronic disease medications and baby milk.
SARC’s Water Project Coordinator, Firas Farras says: “the aim of this trip is to visit some of the water stations in the eastern parts of Rural Deir Ezzor governorate and to witness the workflow on the ground, where there are more than 120 stations. We will try to obtain the necessary permits to enable repairs of the water pipes where needed”. Mr. Farras also added that the water project is a joint venture between the SARC and the ICRC which expressed its readiness to cover the costs of the repairs of all the water networks.
Speaking on behalf of the ICRC, Mr. Jean Marc Burri, head of ICRC’s water and sanitation department in Syria also said: “We will try to capitalize on our presence in the governorate and negotiate, together with the Syrian Arab Red Crescent, a humanitarian pause to enable the delivery of assistance to the eastern parts of Deir Ezzor city that are in need of urgent help”.
On the first day of the visit the teams had meetings with the Governor, the Water Board Authorities, The Higher Relief Committee in the governorate, a number of municipalities and the SARC’s branch team in Deir Ezzor.
On Wednesday 27 of March, and after green lights from all parties, the team was able to enter the Mohassan town suburbs and al-Bulel village in the eastern parts of rural Deir Ezzor where they visited one of the water stations and noted the need for technical supplies, pumps and generating sets for many stations. In addition, the team also visited a makeshift shelter in al-Toub village.
On the 28th of March negotiations were carried out with all parties to introduce a humanitarian pause to enable the visiting ICRC and SARC team to deliver assistance to the eastern parts of Deir Ezzor city in cooperation with the SARC branch in Deir Ezzor. Once the humanitarian pause was put in place, a convoy of 6 trucks loaded with relief items entered Hamidiya area of Deir Ezzor City carrying food, hygiene kits, blankets for 1500 families. Medical material including insulin ampules and chronic disease medications were also provided.
“Humanitarian pauses like the one put in place in Deir Ezzor are essential to help reach people in need and ensure that all areas, including those cut off, can receive their share of assistance”, says Mr. Burri.
The water works and support offered by SARC and ICRC to the local boards across Syria is making a big difference to the lives of hundreds of thousands of people. To enable the continuation these works in all areas, all parties need to facilitate access of the teams
and secure their safe passage.
For further information, please contact:
Vivian Tou’me, Syrian Arab Red Crescent, Damascus, tel: +963 11 332 7645 or +963 959 999 639
Rima Kamal, ICRC Damascus, tel: +963 930 33 67 18 or +963 11 331 0476