Red Cross Chief: 'My visit to Syria Positive, Transparent'

ed Cross (ICRC), Peter Maurer .jpg

Sep 7, 2012 - GENEVA, (SANA)_Head of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Peter Maurer described his recent visit to Syria and his meetings with the Syrian officials as positive and transparent, stressing that the ICRC will return to resume on-the-ground work and will cooperate with the Syrian citizens in need for humanitarian aid.

In a press conference held in Geneva on Friday, Maurer said that his talks in Damascus focused on the humanitarian issues, describing them as transparent that emphasized the importance of enhancing humanitarian aid amid the current crisis in Syria.

''We discussed the importance of increasing communication and ramping up humanitarian aid entering the country and the administrative obstacles hindering humanitarian and medical aid, as some aid doesn't make it to the country due to the import measures inside Syria. I informed the authorities on the information related to technological and administrative measures so as to be able to do our job according to the ICRC measures,'' he said.

''Second, the discussions focused on visiting the prisoners and detainees…As you know, the Syrian government allows us to visit all prisons with no exception…The ICRC visited some prisons in Syria in the last months and we discussed with the Syrian authorities the outcome of the visit and submitted our recommendations in this regard.''

Answering a question on his talks with President Bashar al-Assad, Maurer said ''the talks focused on humanitarian issues, and President al-Assad showed commitment to cooperation with us in a host of issues of paramount importance for the ICRC.''

He noted that he discussed with the Syrian authorities the importance of speeding up work and that the Red Cross and Red Crescent are granted access to the biggest number of civilians inside Syria, especially in relation to health and medical issues, adding ''We agreed to establish centers that care for the Syrian civilians inside the Syrian cities which coordinate with the authorities and monitor the implementation of commitments that we agreed upon. We also agreed that high-ranking officials follow up implementing these commitments in the Syrian cities.''

He added that he is expecting the positive outcomes of his visit to materialize on the ground, adding ''Of course I'm personally committed on behalf of the ICRC to exerting all necessary efforts in the next days and weeks to feel the progress achieved and that obstacles we saw in the past months be removed in a way that facilitates access of food and medical aid to Syria.''

Maurer added that the vandalizing the civil infrastructure had a deep impact on the lives of the Syrian people, indicating that he heard from the citizens he met news of terrorist attacks on the infrastructure, adding ''The conflict is undoubtedly an armed one unfolding in a civil atmosphere.''

He called upon all parties in Syria to engage in a political dialogue, emphasizing the importance of halting violence.

Maurer described the situation in Syria as difficult and complicated, indicating that the situation is hindering a wide-range humanitarian process inside the country.

''Security poses a grave challenge for the ICRC staff, and we want to be able to deliver humanitarian aid all over Syria, that's why we have to establish contacts with all the groups in Syria to ensure the safety of our staff.''

Asked about the numbers related to the needs of the Syrian people , Maurer said ''I know of numbers that circulated across the world on the humanitarian needs inside Syria, which I, admittedly, cannot confirm or deny. We know that we have to put more efforts for Syria and there is no doubt about it.''

He said the ICRC is delivering humanitarian aid in an independent and transparent way without anybody's interference, adding that it seeks to provide water and food and to meet the needs of the crisis-hit citizens.

Maurer paid a three-day visit to Syria that started Tuesday and held talks with President Bashar al-Assad on the mutual cooperation between the ICRC and the Syrian government.

M. Ismael


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