Italy expresses support to Red Cross Red Crescent call for volunteers’ protection in Syria

Published: 15 July 2014 15:02 CET

By Italian Red Cross

At the end of June, in Solferino, northern Italy, the National Assembly of the Italian Red Cross passed a motion for the protection and respect of humanitarian workers in Syria. The Italian Red Cross also asked the Italian Government to keep up the pressure on the parties to the conflict to facilitate safe humanitarian access to those who need it, as well as for the establishment of humanitarian corridors.

“Let’s put an end to the killing of volunteers in Syria,” said Francesco Rocca, President of the Italian Red Cross. “After over three years of conflict, 10 million Syrians are in need of assistance and 44 volunteers have lost their lives while on duty. The situation is unacceptable. We hope that the Italian Government will support this appeal.”

The motion included the following requests to the Prime and Foreign Ministers of Italy: to support the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement’s appeal to all parties to the conflict in Syria to respect its humanitarian mission and to ensure safe access for humanitarian relief workers to vulnerable people. It also asked them to exercise pressure on all those who have an influence on the ground to ensure the respect of the Geneva Conventions and International Humanitarian Law – which includes the principle of distinction, the respect of the emblems and the protection of health personnel – as well as the establishment of humanitarian corridors in places such as Aleppo in order to allow the safe evacuation of the wounded and civilians willing to leave the areas of conflict,and the distribution of humanitarian aid to the civilian population.

The document also called for the recognition of the neutral, impartial and independent work of the Syrian Arab Red Crescent, and asked the Italian government to recognise as unacceptable the killing of 37 volunteers of the Syrian Arab Red Crescent and seven volunteers from the Palestine Red Crescent Society in the line of duty, and to strive to ensure that their day-to-day humanitarian work is respected.

In a press release issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on the same day, the Foreign Minister Federica Mogherini confirmed Italy’s support to the Red Cross Red Crescent appeal and said it was vital that‘all parties to the conflict respect the fundamental principles of the Geneva Conventions and of IHL, starting from the protection of health personnel. “The Red Crescent, has paid a heavy toll with the killing of its volunteers, for its work in supporting and bringing aid to the civilians involved in the conflict, which has always been impartial and independent,” he said. “The support to populations in need for the distribution of aid and the assistance to the wounded, in addition to the creation of humanitarian corridors.”