Switzerland has donated twelve new ambulances to the Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC) to help victims of the five-year conflict. An official Swiss delegation accompanied the delivery to the Syrian capital Damascus.
Seven of the ambulances will be based in SARC's Aleppo branch and five at its headquarters in Damascus, the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) said in a statement on Monday.
The Aleppo Governorate has been seriously affected by the conflict and has no functioning ambulance system for the two million residents in the city of Aleppo.
The cost of the Swiss donation amounts to CHF900,000 ($915,000) and includes support to the SARC for several months to ensure the proper maintenance and operation of the ambulances.
On Monday, a Swiss delegation, headed by the delegate for humanitarian aid, Manuel Bessler, travelled from Beirut, Lebanon, to Damascus to accompany the delivery. Later, they held talks with the Syrian authorities on how to improve humanitarian access to the Syrian population and to ensure compliance with international humanitarian law.
Since the conflict broke out more than five years ago, Switzerland has provided some CHF250 million for humanitarian aid in Syria and neighbouring countries. In 2016, at least CHF50 million is being sent to the region.
Switzerland provides support via the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), United Nations organisations and international non-governmental organisations that carry out projects in and around Syria. Experts from the Swiss Humanitarian Aid Unit are also active on the ground.
Over 250,000 Syrians have been killed in the five years of armed conflict, which began after anti-government protests escalated into civil war. More than 11 million other civilians have been driven from their homes.