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Syria: request for immediate access to violence-stricken areas

10-06-2011 News Release 11/130

Geneva (ICRC) – The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) strongly deplores the loss of life and injuries that have resulted from the ongoing violence in Syria and asks for immediate access to all those affected, including people arrested or detained.

''Despite repeated requests to the Syrian authorities, we have not been granted meaningful access to those in need. We are determined to assist people who are having to cope with the violence. And we are determined to visit those who have been detained," said ICRC President Jakob Kellenberger. "Vital humanitarian assistance must reach vulnerable people without delay.''

Numerous reports indicate that hundreds of people have been killed or injured, thousands detained or arrested and thousands more confined to their homes because of the violence. ''We are prepared to deploy our staff in the affected areas to protect and assist those in need," said Mr Kellenberger. "We are reiterating our request for access to all persons detained in order to assess the conditions in which they are being held and the treatment they are receiving, and so that we can confidentially share our findings with the authorities concerned. I stand ready to go to Syria myself to hold talks with the authorities," he added.

Together with the Syrian Arab Red Crescent, the ICRC has carried out short visits to Daraa, Tartous and Homs in the past month. "We remain committed to supporting the life-saving efforts of the Syrian Arab Red Crescent," said Mr Kellenberger. "However, in the framework of these limited visits, it was difficult to acquire a full picture of the situation on the ground and of the magnitude of humanitarian needs."

On several occasions, the ICRC has called upon the authorities and all others involved in the current violence to respect human life and dignity at all times. Security forces must apply international standards governing the use of force in their efforts to restore law and order. Those arrested and detained must be treated in conformity with the law.

For further information, please contact:
Hicham Hassan, ICRC Geneva: tel: +41 22 730 25 41 or +41 79 536 92 57