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Syria: ICRC to expand presence and action

05-04-2012 News Release 12/77

Geneva/Damascus (ICRC) – In discussions concluded yesterday in Damascus between Jakob Kellenberger, the president of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), and senior Syrian officials, in particular Walid al-Mu'allem, the minister of foreign affairs and expatriates, the Syrian government agreed to an expanded presence of the ICRC in the country.

"This means that we will have to rapidly build up our human resources and logistical capacity in Syria," said Mr Kellenberger.

"This agreement is a sign of trust in the ICRC's independent and neutral humanitarian action," said Mr Kellenberger. "It should enable the ICRC and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent to meet increased humanitarian needs."

A procedure on how to trigger the humanitarian pause requested by the ICRC for areas affected by fighting was also agreed between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates and the ICRC.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates agreed on procedures for visits to places of detention. The agreement will be put into practice with an ICRC visit to people held in Aleppo Central Prison.

Detention issues were also discussed with the minister of the interior, Major-General Mohammad al-Sha'ar.

Discussions with the minister of health, Dr Wa'el al-Halki, focused entirely on the right of the wounded and the sick to have access to medical care and on the obligation of all involved in the violence to respect medical personnel, facilities and transports.

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
Press secretariat: +41 22 730 34 43


Damascus: ICRC president Jakob Kellenberger meets Syrian health minister Wael al-Halqi. 

Damascus: ICRC president Jakob Kellenberger meets Syrian health minister Wael al-Halqi.
© Reuters / K. Al Hariri