Category: Appeals

Merlijn in Syria (day two): aid cannot match the scale of the need

Merlijn talks to volunteers in a Red Crescent ambulance


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.


Merlijn in Syria (day one): Damascus is devastated by conflict

Merlijn interviews a Syrian woman


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’ll be sharing with you all this week.

It is now one year since I last visited Syria. At the time, the huge contrast between the local hospitality and the brutality of the violence struck me to the core. The motivation of the 10,000 Syrian Arab Red Crescent volunteers and staff also left a deep impression. I wonder whether any of the silent strength of the troubled population of this beautiful country remains.

This morning, we depart from a chilly and rainy Beirut in Lebanon. We follow a stunning route through high mountains and have to remind ourselves that we are on the way to a country ravaged by a horrific conflict.


Syria conflict: volunteers work in memory of the 20 killed



Damage to the Syrian Arab Red Crescent's garage in Homs

© SARC – Homs

This is an edited version of an Italian article by Tommaso Della Longa – a member of the Italian Red Cross – in Damascus.

“A few days ago, we intervened to rescue some injured people. Everything was going well, when the situation suddenly deteriorated into an exchange of fire. We found ourselves caught up in the middle for three hours, with no protection except for the emblem.” The person speaking is a 24-year-old university student, who is also a volunteer with the Syrian Arab Red Crescent.

There is no fear in his voice and he is calm. He and the other members of his team know they must do what they are doing. “Otherwise,” they say, “who would do it?” More

Red Cross illustrated: photos and video of live drawing in Bristol



Red-themed illustrations at the event


Last Thursday, a group of local illustrators held a live drawing event, exhibition and auction in Bristol. Artists produced pieces on the theme of ‘red’ to raise funds and awareness during Red Cross Week.

At the event, five of the artists – Dave Bain, Liv Bargman, Katy Christianson, Paul Roberts and Loch Ness – illustrated sections of a huge two-metre by three-metre canvas. Their challenge was to respond to the British Red Cross’ campaign strapline – ‘refusing to ignore people in crisis.’ More

Syria conflict: displacement on an almost unimaginable scale

Volunteers play with displaced children in Homs

©SARC – Homs

The UN now estimates that almost a quarter of Syria’s population – 4.25 million people – have fled their homes within Syria. Of these people, four out of five are living with host families. The rest are renting, or sheltering in vacant buildings, collective centres, parks, barns or caves.

Now try to imagine what would happen if more than four million people in the UK had to find somewhere new to live. That’s the equivalent of everyone living in Birmingham, Manchester, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Cardiff, Bristol, Belfast and Sheffield leaving their homes and not going back. More

Video and photos: Red Cross Weekly makes locals news



Passersby play with perspective


For Red Cross Week 2013, we’ve been asking you to make the headlines.

“But I’ve been trying to get famous for years,” you moan. “And I’ve not got so much as a mention in the Gillyford parish newsletter, despite my whimsical yodelling, futuristic attire and early-morning cartwheel rituals on the village green.”

Well, we understand that celebrity can be hard to come by, however diligently you court it. So to make it a little easier for you to grab that elusive front page spot, we’re bringing giant 3D newspapers to cities around the country.

How is this helping Red Cross enthusiasts claim column inches? Well, dear fame-hungry fundraisers, these giant newspapers can be personalised.


Red Cross Week: you make the headlines


You rewrite the headlines

Tired of feeling powerless to help when you read about hurricanes, earthquakes and floods in the newspapers? Do those stories on the evening news about isolated pensioners, destitute refugees and house fires make you want to throw down the TV remote in despair?

Well switch off the screen, bin the broadsheet and help us rewrite the story this Red Cross Week (5-11 May). More

Photo gallery: helping people in Syria cope with conflict


Whether it’s providing blankets, food, first aid or just a little comfort, Syrian Arab Red Crescent volunteers are working round the clock to make life a little more bearable for people in Syria.

Donate to the Syria Crisis Appeal


Slideshow images © 1, 2, 4, 6, 7, 9, 10, 12&13: SARC, Homs. 3&5: SARC, Tartous. 8: SARC/ Homam Azzam. 11: SARC, Aleppo.