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article imageOp-Ed: Hats off to the Red Cross

By Paul Iddon     Jun 29, 2012 in Politics
As an international organization the Red Cross is striving to help the people on the ground in Syria whose lives are at risk due to the intense violence there.
With Kofi Annan's six point peace plan in shambles and the U.N. observer mission in Syria suspending its missions due to the violence the international organization looks pretty inept to the scores of Syrian civilians who are being killed everyday. Indeed in a moment of frustration the head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Right Mr. Rami Abdul Rahman told the U.N. to "either go out and observe properly or leave."
Kofi Annan left Damascus last March with reassurances from the Syrian president that he would abide by Mr. Annan's six point peace plan, a plan with very concise conditions to be met by the two sides in the conflict. This peace plan's implementation saw renewed violence with both sides unwilling to give up and trading the blame for who were the true violators. That was April, after that the violence intensified and actually got worse Mr. Annan placed the blame firmly on Assad.
Now as the two diverging blocs of the U.N. Security Council bicker over the finer points of how to fully resolve the crisis things are getting worse and the crisis is deteriorating further. Annan is to hold a meeting in Geneva to discuss the Syrian situation with various important regional and world heads of states, except for Iran and Saudi Arabia due to their direct support of diverging sides of what can now be aptly described as a civil war.
After blaming Assad for the failure of his previous peace plan Mr. Annan is now pursuing his plans to form an interim government for Syria, one that is going to be made up of representatives from both sides of the ongoing conflict.
In the midst of these grand talks being discussed the United Nations Mission on the ground in Syria is no longer going out to merely "observe" the situation due to the severe violence there. No short-term plans of actions have been put in place to help people whose human rights are being violated, the scores of families who have been killed by shelling and those whose homes have been destroyed and who are being terrorized by gunmen from both sides.
The Red Cross on the other hand are active on the ground and have talked to both sides of the conflict and have tried to get temporary 2 hour truces so that their teams on the ground can evacuate those trapped in Homs who are in severe danger. With all the grand schemes that have been proposed by Mr. Annan to the U.N. not one of them has yet helped a single one of those many thousands of people.
Obviously the United Nations does not have the power and shouldn't be expected to be able to help everyone, but instead of focusing all their attention so mono-manically on putting forth grand schemes to solve everything -- whilst in doing so really solving nothing -- they should be dedicating their resources to doing what the Red Cross has been trying to do, namely helping those who need the help right now. In doing so, they should try to give off at least the impression that they possess a mere semblance of comprehension and understanding of the danger, and horrors, that ordinary Syrians are enduring and experiencing everyday, while the international community is debating the finer points of another peace plan, which is supposed to be the grand solution to a very complex issue that stems from a variety of different factors which all need to be properly addressed. Diplomatic meetings where the finer points of grand plans which until successfully implemented and maintained, remain only ideas which do nothing for those who are suffering at present.
In Homs where unrelenting shelling is continuing to level large parts of the besieged city the Red Cross are once again unable to enter the city due to the shelling. In order to negotiate temporary truces they had gotten both sides to promise to abide by a very short ceasefire, however as par usual, when the fighting didn't pause as agreed the opposing sides blamed each other.
That being said what the Red Cross are trying to do is highly admirable, it shows an understanding of the dire affects on the ground, how important time is, how realistically they can expect both sides to temporarily hold a truce in order to permit their brave men and women on the ground to extract the trapped, those in danger and those wounded.
Even though they are still unable to move in, their physical presence on the ground shows their preparedness to help Syrian civilians. Such short term plans and readiness are exactly what is needed. The intervening time that is being waited upon for the international community to come to a consensual agreement over what to ultimately do about the crisis shouldn't be wasted, civilians shouldn't have to die in the meantime whilst U.N. member states have the humanitarian capacity and means to help them out.
The Red Cross is exercising extraordinary courage in its deployment and are showing conviction to a very basic plan, as basic as it is it has a greater potential than those grand peace plans -- that have yet to bear any influence to events on the ground in Syria -- to help the people and save them from perishing and adding on to the rising death toll of that conflict.
Hats off to the brave members of the Red Cross in Syria, their readiness to be gallant at a moments notice deserves our profound admiration.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
More about Red cross, Syria, Syrian uprising, Un, Kofi annan
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