IFRC Secretary General visits volunteers and health workers in Syria

Published: 25 December 2014 1:28 CET

by Vivian Tou’meh, Communication Coordinator, Syrian Arab Red Crescent

Dr. Abdul Rahman Attar, President of the Syrian Arab  Red Crescent, welcomed Mr. Elhadj As Sy, Secretary General of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), at the Headquarters of the Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC) in Damascus, where Mr. Sy was briefed about the activities of the National Society. From his side, Dr. Attar explained to Mr. Sy what SARC is doing in response to the crisis and emphasized the relationship of SARC with National Societies, the IFRC and other humanitarian agencies. During the visit, Mr. As Sy visited all departments in the Headquarters and had the opportunity to talk with SARC staff members and volunteers.

Dr. Attar later accompanied the Secretary General on a visit to the disaster management  and first aid operations centres in Zahira, Damascus, where they met with volunteers from the Syrian Arab Red Crescent.

“We appreciated the visit of the Secretary General to our centres, where he was able to witness the work on the ground” commented Dr. Attar.”This helps enhance the confidence in SARC as a neutral and impartial humanitarian organization, as well as  the credibility of our Fundamental Principles.”.

Dr. Attar also stressed the importance of this visit to pass a concrete message on the needs on the ground to the humanitarian organizations that are the only ones in a position to support SARC.

 “We are proud of the significant efforts undertaken by the SARC volunteers; these volunteers work around the clock and provide emergency services, sometimes in dangerous situations” he added.

Mr. Sy said the trip gave him an insight into the ways in which the Red Crescent is working within communities and with authorities while maintaining its independence. “It was important to see how they reach the most difficult areas, partner with different actors, and work well with government institutions while maintaining independence and be accepted by all parties. It shows the Syrian Arab Red Crescent is really doing the work they supposed to do,” he said. “It is also an opportunity for me to understand where we can work harder to reach more people.”

On the second day, Mr Sy visited the old city of Homs, where he met with SARC volunteers at the distribution point, as well as the Obstetrics Department of a SARC clinic, which was opened in the last week. After that, he headed to Tartous to see the Red Crescent logistics hub, the main entry point for all Red Cross Red Crescent goods coming into Syria. A message to SARC volunteers

“My message to Red Crescent volunteers is, first of all, a message of appreciation for the work that they do, and my deep sympathy and solidarity for those who lost their friends and their family members in the line of duty. I pay tribute to them. Without our volunteers there is no humanitarian work. Without them there is no access.”

Mr Sy said the volunteers on the frontlines were part of a family that reaches around the world. “We will stand in solidarity with them and we will do everything possible to support and protect them”

The IFRC has been at the centre of operations in Syria since violence broke out, and recently increased its appeal to help more people over the long term. “ We must respond to the scale and needs within Syria,” he said. “We have seen great results so far with good, transparent leadership, and all of this helps us maintain the profile of the crisis. People can see that their contributions lead to success.

“This is the best way to keep the momentum and we will do all we can to maintain this.”