Providing aid in conflict zones is beset by difficulties, from security for your people to the political permissions to operate there at all. This article looks at the International Committee of the Red Cross's work in Syria, most recently in the Damascus suburb of Eastern Ghouta.
"[ICRC head Peter] Maurer is confronted daily with how fraught the task of providing humanitarian can be. His latest struggle is to get medical aid into Eastern Ghouta: The Syrian government periodically allows flour bags and food parcels but blocks trauma kits and basic medicine, such as insulin, from entering the area. At the same time, he must contend with hostility from critics in the Syrian opposition, who contend that aid organizations have abandoned their principles in dealing with the Syrian government and serve to strengthen Bashar al-Assad’s grip on power. ... The ICRC’s fundamental principles dictate that aid should be delivered without discrimination based on political belief and that the organization should remain neutral in conflicts — but the Geneva Conventions and the U.N. resolutions creating the humanitarian system all begin by acknowledging the primacy of states. 'So it’s no surprise that our first address is always governments and to try to seek to negotiate with them on what we are able to do,' he says. Maurer acknowledges that this has 'led to a certain imbalance' when it comes to aid delivery. However, he is quick to point out the lengths that the ICRC goes to push the Syrian government to expand the scope of aid delivery. ... Doing good, in Maurer’s world, means working with those who are complicit in the problems he’s trying to solve. It’s not only in Syria, after all, where he has to weigh his words carefully."
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