Merlijn Stoffels, who works for the Netherlands Red Cross, visited Syria last month. He wrote a day-by-day account of his experiences in the country, which I’m sharing with you all this week.
Surprisingly, the breakfast hall is empty and its tables are dusty. I ask the reception staff why and they tell me that there are simply too few guests to serve a buffet. We walk to the offices of the Red Cross. Even on foot, we have to prove our identity at the roadblocks.
We visit a medical clinic, an ambulance station, a Syrian Arab Red Crescent distribution centre and a relief centre. Our conversations with Syrian Arab Red Crescent staff and volunteers show just how motivated they are. Most of the volunteers endure 12-hour working days, and only the medical aid volunteers are restricted to a maximum of eight hours. They work under tough conditions driving ambulances to areas of conflict to help the victims of the violence.