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Syria: call for access to people caught up in violence

03-05-2011 News Release 11/104

Geneva/Damascus (ICRC) – The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) deplores the loss of life and injuries that have occurred in violent incidents in Syria since mid-March. It asks for immediate and unimpeded access to those in need.

"It is urgent that emergency medical services, first-aid workers and others performing life-saving tasks swiftly reach those in need," said Marianne Gasser, head of the ICRC delegation in Damascus. "The violence has resulted in a large number of casualties, and we fear that if the situation worsens more lives will be lost."

"The ICRC calls upon the authorities, demonstrators and all others involved to respect human life and dignity at all times," added Ms Gasser.

Syrian Arab Red Crescent volunteers and other medical personnel have been working hard to provide first aid and evacuate victims. It is everyone's responsibility to ensure that they can carry out their work in safety and that their ambulances and other vehicles are respected.

"The ICRC reiterates that it is ready and willing to perform its humanitarian tasks in areas affected by the violence," said Ms Gasser. "We also stand ready to provide expertise and assistance in matters relating to detainees, including those held in connection with the recent events." All people arrested and detained must at all times be treated humanely and held in decent conditions.

Since the onset of the violence, the ICRC has been coordinating its response with the Syrian Arab Red Crescent, which has been delivering essential supplies such as first-aid kits, stretchers and other emergency-response equipment. Both organizations have been cooperating with Syria's health ministry to bring aid to violence-stricken areas and are working to deliver medical supplies to hospitals and other health-care facilities in the country.

The ICRC has been working in Syria since Israel first occupied the Golan, in 1967. It focuses on alleviating the effects of occupation on Syrian citizens in the Golan, helping Syrians and Iraqis in Syria to restore and maintain contact with their families abroad, visiting Syrians detained abroad, and providing clean drinking water for some of the most vulnerable communities in the drought-stricken north-east.

For further information, please contact:
Hisham Hassan, ICRC Geneva, tel: +41 22 730 25 41 or +41 79 536 92 57
Saleh Dabbakeh, ICRC Damascus, tel: +963 993 700 847