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Syria violence: Who is helping the wounded?

February 8, 2012 | 11:41 am

There are relatively few organizations at work in Syria to help those wounded in the ongoing uprising against the government of President Bashar Assad. The Syrian Arab Red Crescent is the main humanitarian group on the ground. Donors can give to that group and other regional aid organizations through the Zakat Foundation of America, executive director Halil Demir said. The Syrian American Medical Society also has a foundation that sends money to the Syrian Red Crescent.

Besides the Red Crescent and other local groups, the International Committee of the Red Cross is the only international humanitarian organization at work in Syria, said spokesman Simon Schorno. It works closely with the Red Crescent. Donors can help support its efforts, but can't earmark contributions specifically for Syria.

Providing aid and assistance in Syria is extremely dangerous. One of the Red Crescent branch presidents was shot and killed last month while traveling in a vehicle marked with the Red Crescent emblem. The Syrian government has persecuted doctors who treat wounded protesters, according to the nonprofit Doctors Without Borders, which is not authorized to work in Syria but has gathered testimony from physicians.

"Anyone caught with drugs in his possession, the charges against him are more grave than being accused with possession of weapons," the report quotes one anonymous Syrian doctor as saying.

Some nonprofit organizations are not working directly in Syria, but have been helping Syrian refugees in neighboring countries. Islamic Relief is providing help to refugees in Jordan and Lebanon, vice president of communications Hebah Reed said. Zakat is also providing help to a clinic just over the border from Syria in Lebanon.

To hear more about the challenges of providing aid in Syria, you can listen to this interview with a Red Cross official charged with assistance in the Near and Middle East, provided on the agency's Intercross blog. Opposition activists have posted numerous videos purporting to show people wounded in the shelling of Syrian towns, including the video above, said to show a man in pain and with a bloody bandage around his head after he was wounded in an attack.


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Video: In a YouTube video posted by a Syrian opposition activist, a man with a bloodied bandage struggles to breathe. The Times cannot vouch for the authenticity of the video.