* Fighting prevents access to food, medical care, ICRC says
* UN says record death toll of 1,600 in past week
* Nearly 230,00 Syrian refugees registered in region
By Stephanie Nebehay
GENEVA, Aug 31 Syrian civilians' living
conditions are worsening dramatically, as it becomes harder to
obtain food and escape fighting which caused a record death toll
of 1,600 in the past week, aid agencies said on Friday.
The International Committee of the Red Cross, whose 50 aid
workers in Syria are confined to Damascus because of the lack of
security, has been unable to send out convoys with supplies for
the past two weeks, ICRC spokesman Hicham Hassan said.
"The (humanitarian) situation in many parts of Syria is
currently edging towards irreversible deterioration. Assisting
the fast-growing number of needy people is a top priority," the
ICRC said in a statement.
Tens of thousands of civilians forced to flee fighting have
been displaced in recent weeks and most are completely dependent
on assistance, it said.
"People suffer every day. Many have lost their jobs, others
their breadwinner. It is difficult to meet even basic food needs
and to obtain other essentials," the ICRC said.
Marianne Gasser, head of the ICRC delegation in Syria, said
that fighting in the capital Damascus had escalated relentlessly
since mid-July. The Syrian Arab Red Crescent is still delivering
aid to displaced in Damascus, Aleppo, Homs, Idlib and elsewhere.
"People fear for their lives every minute of the day," she
Increasing numbers of injured are succumbing to their
wounds, unable to get medical care due to the conflict or lack
of medical supplies or health services, the ICRC said.
"Health care facilities that are still functioning are
finding it more and more difficult to cope with the numbers of
injured patients," it said.
An estimated 1.2 million people are uprooted within Syria,
including 150,000 in Damascus and surrounding areas, according
to the United Nations.
RECORD DEATH TOLL
"Syria witnessed in the past week an escalation of violence
particularly in Damascus. A record death toll of 1,600 persons
was reported, including children," Patrick McCormick of the U.N.
Children's Fund (UNICEF) told a news briefing in Geneva, citing
a U.N. document.
Nearly 229,000 Syrian refugees have fled abroad during the
17-month-old conflict so far, crossing into four neighbouring
countries (Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey) - a jump of 100,000
in the past month alone, the U.N. refugee agency said on Friday.
"Across the region we are continuing to see a steady rise in
the numbers of people leaving Syria. We've seen an increase
particularly in Lebanon's Bekaa Valley over the last week,"
said Adrian Edwards, spokesman of the U.N. High Commissioner for
"Three thousand people a day coming across the borders into
other countries is a very, very significant refugee crisis," he
France plans to channel aid to rebel-held parts of Syria so
that these "liberated zones" can administer themselves and
staunch an outflow of refugees, Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius
"UNICEF is deeply concerned that in Syria and surrounding
regions we may be or are looking at one of the biggest
humanitarian emergencies in the last decade," UNICEF's McCormick
said, citing major challenges in providing shelter, clean water
"Obviously, we can't tackle that emergency in the way that
we'd like until there is a political solution," he added.