Syrian reporter published a report “Assad and the Red Cross are Partners n Lies“. In response to this report, the reporter was contacted by Mr. Pawel Krzysiek, official spokesperson for the ICRC in Syria, to discuss the truth of what happened in the besieged city of Moadamieh, the validity of the claims that aid was delivered to the deprived pro-rebel neighborhoods besieged by the regime and its militias. He claimed that the aid entered at the medical point of the city and that he himself was able to join it and for himself see the distribution of the aid.
Syrian Reporter has a exclusive interview with Mr.Krzysiek to clarify what happened.
SR Did you know the several Syrian cities are under siege suffering from an extremely difficult humanitarian situation?
MR.K Yes, it is a difficult situation and we have contacts with many in Babbila and Yarmouk and they tell us the difficulty of the situation and what is happening there. Yesterday I visited Moadamieh for the second time.
I cannot understand what is going on there,the really painful stories and poignant scenes we heard about in Moadamieh yesterday. We were able to enter Moadamieh with the food aid but we could not enter into the heart of the city because of the many road closures which compelled me to make the distributions on the outskirts of town.The Eastern neighborhood was isolated by the Syrian Army checkpoint at Eastern street beyond which we could not pass. Therefore the trucks bearing medical aid could go no further. It was in the so called buffer zone that the thousands of starving people assembled.
TERMS AND NEGOTIATIONS
The negotiations about the distribution of aid took a long time because Red Cross wanted to manage the distribution of the aid, conduct interviews with doctors and patients without the presence of the regime. The Red Cross said it is not enough to distribute aid to an unmanaged crowd of starving people in the buffer zone. But this went on and on and finally were forced to accept regime’s terms.
But during this period of long negotiation, the people by the thousands moved towards the area where the aid had reached before stopped by the regime. It was evident that we did not have enough in this first delivery for all those present.
We distributed to 12,000 people in 2500, or for a family. We did not have enough for everyone but we had to start the distribution. All of these people had been waiting for this and we made the decision to distribute to every family, who has the family book from within Moadamieh, a small amount of aid.
Mr. Krzysiek continued: More aid is expected to enter on Sunday and we will be distributing to the families that do not have a family book. We know that 12,000 received a small amount, and we have nearly 5,000 families within the city. After that we started to distribute the medical aid tacked (???)Login (??) permission for the truck, but the regime did not grant us permission and had not allowed for the large size of the trucks. We could not enter. The people gathered once again near the isolated eastern district region checkpoint. The regime brought bulldozers and attempted to expand a way for the trucks. A car came with a local Moadamieh council.They had to empty the load so that it could enter with our cars. That is what really happened. So it took us a long time and I was personally with these cars that entered the besieged neighborhoods in Moadamieh and arrived at the field hospital. I had received two trucks of medical supplies and emphasize here that the trucks did not go to the eastern neighborhood. I was present for five hours watching the unloading operations.
SR: What about the aid for the remainder of the families?
Mr.K: We have obtained preliminary approval to cross the checkpoints for the distribution in the besieged areas of the western neighborhoods of the city, but this approval is not enough. We need written approvals and hope to get them. We now have enough food for 4,000 families waiting for entry into Moadamieh, but there is nothing definite yet.
For example, when we entered Madaya we waited 3 months until we were able to enter. He has the local council provide us with lists of names and families and who in turn will move to the “buffer zone”in the form of payment. And after that, having made sure about the lists, will be the distribution.
SR: We know also that because the family book is not available for all, this adds to the concerns of the people of Moadamieh who are moving to the eastern district for fear of arrest or health situations that prevent them from it.
Mr. K: True, That is why we will not rely on the family book when we distribute. After the last time we have adopted this way – that we will rely on the lists provided by the local councils that we are getting everyone from any destination. Ultimately we do not have the freedom to enter unlike other areas in other countries.
“NEUTRALITY OE EXECUTE SYSTEM COMMANDS”
Kryzsiek confirmed aid and bread were entering Moadamieh until November 2015, via the Red Cross and the Syrian Red Crescent, to the people of the western region. This aid stopped because of the political situation between the opposition and the regime. This policy has nothing to do with the Red Cross, who does not distinguish between this and other regions.
During the meeting,held via skype, the activist “Dani Kabbani”, from the Information Office of the City Muadamiyat al-Sham, directed a question to the official spokesman of the Red Cross: Mr K, Being that aid has been distributed in the eastern quarter of the city and there are those there who contribute to the application of the siege of the city, how can we trust in your neutrality?
Mr.K: We are neutral and I’ll tell you a story about a sick child. We entered the hospital in Damascus in the besieged area, and got the treatment because of the neutral and impartial employees. It is not true that we give to the people of the eastern region and don’t give to the people of the western. I saw people cross the bridge and return to inside the city after the distribution of the 2500 baskets. I know that the situation is difficult and we are trying to help as much as possible.
DK: You talk about saving of one life, what about the lives of the other nine who died due to food shortages and disease. We thank you for your efforts but it is not enough.
Finally, it was a question to Mr.K concerning the other areas – East Ghouta and Madaya and other besieged areas. But he assured us that although there are no approvals to enter these areas, we know that the situation is tragic there. People talk about the 40,000 to 50,000 trapped, but we in the Red Cross talk about the 5 million living in places impossible to reach now.
MrK stressed that Syria is the most difficult country that they have been working with in humanitarian matters.