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Syria: ICRC president in Damascus again

02-04-2012 News Release 12/65

Geneva/Damascus (ICRC) – The president of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Jakob Kellenberger, arrives today in Syria for a two-day visit that will start with talks with senior Syrian officials, including Minister of Foreign Affairs Walid al-Mu'alem, Minister of the Interior Major-General Mohamad al-Shaar, and Minister of Health Dr Wael al-Halki.

Talks will focus on the situation from a humanitarian viewpoint in the areas affected by unrest and on the efforts of the ICRC and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent to respond to the increasing needs of sick, wounded and displaced people.

''I am determined to see the ICRC and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent expand their presence, range and scope of activities to address the needs of vulnerable people," Mr Kellenberger said. "This will be a key element of my talks with the Syrian officials.''

The president also stressed two other important themes. "I will be raising the issue of access to all places of detention. Visiting people who have been detained remains a priority for us. I will also further discuss practical measures for implementing our initiative for a daily two-hour cessation of fighting. A daily pause in the hostilities is essential in order to evacuate wounded people and deliver aid if and when the fighting intensifies."

One positive development in recent weeks has been that the ICRC has obtained greater access to many of the areas affected by the unrest. Its staff is now able to stay longer in the field in order to gain a clearer understanding of people's needs and to do its best to meet those needs. Mr Kellenberger will be visiting areas affected by the fighting to observe the situation first-hand and to see for himself the work of the ICRC and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent on the ground.

This is the president's third visit to Syria since June 2011.

For further information, please contact:
Saleh Dabbakeh, ICRC Damascus, tel: +963 993 700 847 or +963 11 331 0476
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