Urgent call for Red Cross access to Homs as dozens injured in shelling face death without treatment
Activists in the Homs districts of Khaldiya, Joret al Shayah and Hamidiyeh have made an urgent plea for medical assistance after at least 50 people were injured in a brutal shelling attack by regime forces today.
ICRC and Red Crescent teams are blocked from the area and the injured are being treated by a handful of paramedics and medical students with limited training. One man with a deep shrapnel wound was forced to have his leg amputated by a medical student using only rudimentary equipment and few drugs.
Prominent citizen journalist Waleed Fares, who has been reporting regime violence to the world’s media for the past 14 months, was hit by shrapnel in the stomach. Waleed told Avaaz: “I was injured in the stomach from shrapnel during the shelling. People are dying all around me in the field hospital. There are no doctors here, only paramedics and medical students. More than 50 injured people are in need of surgery. 12 cases are absolutely critical. Most of the injured are likely to die without medical aid. They can only give them first aid, there are no surgeons.
“The shelling is still continuing. We called the UN observers, they said they had no medical personnel and did not have the capacity to enter. I’m pleading for help, we need a surgeon, even if it’s just one. The regime needs to allow access to the Red Cross or the Red Crescent now.”
Alice Jay, Campaign Director at Avaaz, said: “Right now, Homs is being shelled to pieces by Assad’s forces. In the past few hours dozens of people have been injured, and many will die as they have no access to medical care. Red Cross teams must be allowed immediate access. UN observers nearby need to urgently go to this area and see for themselves the bloodbath being unleashed by the regime on innocent civilians.”
“Homs is no more”
Regime shelling is ongoing in the neighbourhoods of Khaldiya, Jouret al Shayah, Hamidiya and Old Homs. Citizen journalist Fadi said: “All the shelling and the bombardment of Homs, the noise and the sound of the shelling is something unbelievable. Everything is destroyed. Homs is no more.”
Internet and phone lines have been cut off in these neighbourhoods, which remain in the control of the FSA. Speaking by satellite phone, activist Khaled Tellawi from Old Homs told Avaaz: “This morning more military reinforcements arrived to the city – thousands of soldiers – and they have imposed a complete siege on us.” He pleaded for the ICRC and Red Crescent to deliver urgent humanitarian aid to the neighbourhoods and provide medical staff and surgeons to treat the injured.
Red Crescent ‘blocked’
Activists reported that the regime had blocked local Red Crescent teams from accessing these neighbourhoods to distribute aid. Activist Abu Bilal al Homsi told Avaaz: “We are completely besieged. We have no water, no sufficient medical supplies to treat the wounded, nor safe hospitals to transfer these wounded to after regime forces took over the hospitals of al Kendi and al Riaya al Tibbiya – which were the only two hospitals providing medical care for those injured in the attacks. Snipers have scattered across the hospitals’ rooftops.”
Media centre hit
Regime forces shelled the media centre in Hamidiya, injuring 6 citizen journalists, some of whom with serious injuries. Activists told Avaaz that the field hospitals in the area are only capable of providing basic first aid.
Activists reported an acute shortage in everything from food and water to ammunition and medical supplies, saying the shortage of bullets could leave the FSA unable to hold off advancing regime forces for much longer. Tellawi told Avaaz: “There are few families remaining in the neighbourhoods of Hamidiya and Joret al Shayah. The regime forces offered to vacate them using buses, but the families refused for fear of being used as human shields to break into the neighbourhoods. The families are now in a panic state, fearing that the regime might commit massacres against them if the regime troops storm these neighbourhoods.”
UN monitors prevented from accessing area
Activist Abu Bilal al Homsi told Avaaz that they have called the UN monitors ‘repeatedly’, urging them to visit the area, but the monitors told them ’they cannot go into these neighbourhoods or even come close to them because the regime had prevented them from going there and the pace of bombing has also intensified.’
Shelling on the neighbourhood of Khaldiya:
Livestream of the shelling: http://bambuser.com/v/2735300