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Red Crescent says vulnerable civilians pay the price for war in Syria


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Red Crescent says vulnerable civilians pay the price for war in Syria

As President of the Syrian Arab Red Crescent Dr. Abdul Rahman Attar has witnessed the devastation of his country, a country ripped apart by a multi-layered war.

The situation is violent and complex, he spoke to euronews reporter Chris Cummins about the difficulties of providing aid in a land where carnage is now the norm.

Chris Cummins:
“Dr. Abdul Rahman Attar President of the Syrian Arab Red Crescent thanks for joining us on euronews.
In 2011 as the Arab Spring swept across parts of the Middle East, did you have an instinct that Syria would descend into chaos?”

Dr. Abdul Rahman Attar, President of the Syrian Arab Red Crescent:“Unfortunately these calls for freedom, democracy and reform were hijacked by parties that turned it into an armed conflict.

We had hoped for a peaceful transition that would improve and strengthen modern Syria. Sadly the Arab Spring was forced off its path by the actions of regional and international forces. The ordinary people in Syria did not know what was happening.”

Chris Cummins: “With so many conflicting militia fighting on the ground and in the skies you have international aircraft making bombing raids, how difficult is it for the Red Crescent to operate effectively in such an unpredictable environment?”

Dr. Abdul Rahman Attar:“First allow me to pay tribute to the 49 Red Crescent volunteers who have been killed on the frontline.

They were the only ones moving and working delivering aid through all the regions of Syria, including the most violent places.

When you enter any area in Syria you face more than one armed group and they all want something.

As Red Crescent volunteers we manage to go into these areas and inform people we are here to provide clean water, food and carry out vaccination programs, we deliver medication.”

Chris Cummins:“When did Daesh first make its presence felt in Syria, was there a particular incident, which arrived on your desk and alerted you to the fact that the conflict in Syria was morphing into something far more complex?”

Dr. Abdul Rahman Attar:
“I think Daesh, started in Raqqa, Raqqa was the start. It was a difficult issue for us, the storming of Raqqa. In the initial stages we were able to reach these people through our Raqqa branch and we provided water, food and vaccinations, but there are constant changes in the leadership in Raqqa and they all make new rules, and on a number of occasions stopped our activities. Then Daesh spread to other areas such as Palmayra, Al-Sukhna, Deir Az-Zor and Hasaka. Then there was conflict between Daesh and many other armed groups… In many regions we were right in the middle between the Al Nusra Front, Daesh or Ahrar Al Sham.. all these groups.”

Chris Cummins:“What is the humanitarian situation in Raqqa as we speak, you are operational in Raqqa and do you have contact with Daesh?”


Dr. Abdul Rahman Attar:
“We still have a branch in Raqqa and it used to to provide an ambulance service and health and humanitarian support.

The work of the branch has been limited at times because of the presence of Daesh, they created a body to takeover to oversee things.

We were allowed to work, but it was limited. Still we are providing water, sanitation and hygiene and UN wheat, so they can bake bread and we provide vaccinations for children.

This is up and down, depending on the person in charge.
Before an Egyptian was in command of health in Raqqa and he gave us room to operate, but he has been replaced by a Saudi and he limits our effectiveness.”

Chris Cummins:“So what are the daily needs that most Syrians face?”

Dr. Abdul Rahman Attar:
“Winter is coming and there are more than nine million displaced people in Syria and we experience rain snow and other weather phenomena.
We don’t have many shelters. There are no camps, we are not allowed camps.

Some areas have become sanctuaries, some schools and some buildings provide shelter.

The Syrian Arab Red Crescent delivers food, water, sanitation, hygiene and healthcare, what hurts the most is the situation for children. More than one million children are without schools in Syria.”

Chris Cummins:“How does piling more bombs on top an already incendiary situation help?”

Dr. Abdul Rahman Attar:
“It breaks my heart to witness the bombing because it is going to kill civilians, they may kill armed militia, but how can you differentiate between the two?

These bombs will hurt and kill civilians who are innocent and vulnerable, they are the ones paying the price for the disputes of others on Syrian territory. I am against any attacks by any group.”

Chris Cummins:“What are you hopes for the future of your country? Do you see a future for your country?”

Dr. Abdul Rahman Attar:
“When you see what is happening on the ground, you realise the situation is a global one and it requires an international solution.”

Chris Cummins:
“Dr Attar I’d like to thank you very much for joining us on Euronews and I wish all the very best in the difficult days ahead.”

Dr. Abdul Rahman Attar: “Thank you for the opportunity for me to talk to euronews, because I’m a dedicated follower in Arabic and English. Thank you euronews for allowing me to express my thoughts on my country.”

Every story can be told in many ways: see the perspectives from Euronews journalists in our other language teams.

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