Syria agrees to give Red Cross wider access – ICRC


Syria has agreed to give the Red Cross greater access to civilians and areas caught up in the country’s conflict, said the humanitarian agency.

Jakob Kellenberger, president of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), said in a statement that two days of talks with senior Syrian officials in Damascus on humanitarian issues had been “frank and operational.”

The aid agency has so far only been allowed to make limited visits to a handful of cities including Deraa and had demanded unrestricted access, Reuters reports.
“The Syrian officials were receptive and agreed to give the ICRC and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent wider access to areas of unrest,” Kellenberger said. “I will closely monitor how this understanding is put into practice.”

The Syrian government had also voiced its “readiness to discuss terms and conditions” of ICRC visits to detainees, Kellenberger said. “This is a first step forward,” he said.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad issued a general amnesty on Tuesday, a day after he promised wide-ranging but vague reforms to counter a three-month popular revolt against his autocratic rule.

Syrian rights groups say at least 1,300 civilians have been killed and 10,000 people detained since March.

Kellenberger met Syrian Prime Minister Adel Safar and Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem, as well as the president of the Syrian Arab Red Crescent, Abd al-Rahman al-Attar, and Red Crescent volunteers, the agency said.