Red Cross appeals to Syria for access to wounded

AP News
Posted: Jun 10, 2011 9:10 AM
Red Cross appeals to Syria for access to wounded

The head of the International Committee of the Red Cross appealed Friday to Syria for access to those wounded and detained in clashes with security forces, saying he would meet personally with authorities if necessary to ensure the neutral body reaches those parts of the country where violence is occurring.

The ICRC said it has managed to conduct short visits with the Syrian Arab Red Crescent to Daraa, Tartous and Homs in the past month, but they weren't sufficient for the Red Cross to carry out its work.

"Despite repeated requests to the Syrian authorities, we have not been granted meaningful access to those in need," ICRC president Jakob Kellenberger said.

The Geneva-based group commonly visits those wounded and detained in conflicts around the world by promising governments complete confidentiality in return for access.

"I stand ready to go to Syria myself to hold talks with the authorities," Kellenberger said. "Vital humanitarian assistance must reach vulnerable people without delay."

ICRC spokesman Hicham Hassan said reports of hundreds killed or wounded, and thousands detained during the anti-government uprising are credible. Thousands more are believed confined to their homes because of the violence, he said.

Human rights groups have put the number of people killed at 1,300, claiming most are unarmed civilians.