© 2023 WGLT
A public service of Illinois State University
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
Major tech upgrade underway at WGLT. Thanks for your patience!

The ICRC aims to meet with the more than 200 hostages held captive by Hamas

A MARTÍNEZ, HOST:

Yesterday, a few hundred foreign passport holders and some seriously injured Palestinians made it through the gate out of Gaza and into Egypt.

(CROSSTALK)

MARTÍNEZ: The International Committee of the Red Cross is among the relief organizations that have been trying to get trucks filled with food, water and medicine into Gaza by way of the Rafah crossing. Alyona Synenko is a regional spokeswoman with the ICRC, and she's on the line with us now from Jerusalem.

We just listened to one woman tell us about her family's trials and her own under Israeli bombardment. Where does the Red Cross see the greatest need right now?

ALYONA SYNENKO: Well, as it is clear from the testimony that we have just heard, the needs are absolutely everywhere. And of course, for us, the main priority is life saving. So right now, we have our surgical team that is operating on the wounded patients. We have managed to send some trucks with medical supplies that we have delivered to the hospitals, but it's just a drop in the ocean compared to the immense needs that we are seeing everywhere. This morning, I spoke with our surgeon, who is operating there day and night, and he describes the horrific wounds - the burned wounds - that children here receiving. And also, many children are deeply traumatized, and they lost their entire families.

MARTÍNEZ: What can the Red Cross do to get more aid into Gaza? Is there anything at all that the Red Cross can do?

SYNENKO: Well, we are doing everything that we possibly can, and we are talking to all the parties, to all the stakeholders who can facilitate the delivery of this medical supplies. We have more supplies and more staff on standby, ready to get in. And it is absolutely urgent that a constant flow of humanitarian aid into Gaza becomes, because this is - the several trucks here and there are not going to solve the massive humanitarian problems that we are seeing right now. When we speak with our surgeons today, they're already are telling us that they are running dangerously low on the dressing material, on the anesthetic drugs. So it is absolutely imperative that the authorities, that all the stakeholders, they facilitate the delivery of humanitarian assistance.

MARTÍNEZ: Now, the ICRC president called a catastrophic failing that civilians can't find safe haven under Israel's bombardment and that an adequate humanitarian response just wasn't possible. What do you need most to get food, water and medicine, and what's the one thing you need to get those things in where they need to be?

SYNENKO: Well, of course, we do need access, and we need safety for our teams to be able to operate, to be able to access people most in need in all the areas across Gaza, because it is true that when the bombs continue to fall, it is also impossible for our teams to do their jobs.

MARTÍNEZ: Now, the Israeli government has been very critical of the International Red Cross. Yesterday, Israel's Foreign Minister Eli Cohen said he was demanding that the ICRC visit more than 200 hostages held by Hamas. And Cohen said that if your organization fails, it has no right to exist. Was there a response from the ICRC to that statement?

SYNENKO: Well, for us, it is a priority to get access and to visit all the hostages because what their families are currently going through, the amount of suffering that they endure is also unimaginable. I think anybody can imagine the nightmare that these families are now going through. And we have been also constantly calling on the authorities - on the Hamas authorities to give us the access so that we can provide medicine, that we can give news to the families of the hostages.

It is a major priority, but we are a humanitarian organization. And just like with delivery of aid, humanitarian assistance to people in Gaza who are trying to survive under bombs, just like visiting Israeli hostages who are without access and without being able to communicate with their families, we cannot do any of that unless we are given the needed humanitarian space and the access to be able to do our job. We cannot force our way through bombs. And we just need all the parties to show the goodwill and to - and also to respect their obligation under the international humanitarian law.

MARTÍNEZ: Alyona Synenko is with the International Committee of the Red Cross. Thank you very much for your time.

SYNENKO: Thank you.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.