Syria: authorities grant ICRC enhanced access
21-06-2011 News Release 11/138
Damascus/Geneva (ICRC) – The president of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Jakob Kellenberger, has concluded talks with Prime Minister Adel Safar and Foreign Minister Walid Muallem in Damascus.
The president insisted on the ICRC being granted unrestricted access to areas and people affected by the current unrest in the country.
"The discussions focused exclusively on humanitarian issues and were frank and operational," said Mr Kellenberger. "The Syrian officials were receptive, and agreed to give the ICRC and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent wider access to areas of unrest. I will closely monitor how this understanding is put into practice." Unhindered access is imperative to assess the humanitarian situation and provide aid that matches needs.
The ICRC president also requested that ICRC delegates be allowed to conduct visits to detainees in accordance with the organization's standard working procedures. "The Syrian government has expressed its readiness to discuss terms and conditions relating to ICRC visits," said Mr Kellenberger. "This is a first step forward."
The ICRC president also held talks with the president of the Syrian Arab Red Crescent, Abd al-Rahman al-Attar, to explore ways of strengthening cooperation and coordination. "The Syrian Arab Red Crescent remains our primary partner in our endeavour to meet the needs of people caught up in violence," said Mr Kellenberger.
In addition, a meeting took place at Al-Zahirah first-aid centre in Damascus, also responsible for the south of the country, between the ICRC president and Syrian Arab Red Crescent volunteers who have been administering first aid and providing medical care since the beginning of the unrest.
For further information, please contact:
Saleh Dabbakeh, ICRC Damascus: tel: +963 993 700 847
Hicham Hassan, ICRC Geneva, tel: +41 22 730 25 41 or +41 79 536 92 57
Carla Haddad Mardini, ICRC Geneva, tel: +41 22 730 24 05 or +41 79 217 32 26