ICRC calls for immediate access to Syria
The international Red Cross called Friday for immediate access to Syria, with its president Jakob Kellenberger saying he is ready to head to the country to discuss the issue.
"Vital humanitarian assistance must reach vulnerable people without delay," said Kellenberger, president of the International Committee of the Red Cross, adding that the relief agency was ready to deploy its staff.
"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.
The relief agency said it had carried out short visits to Daraa, Tartous and Homs in the past month.
"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," noted Kellenberger.
He pointed out that despite repeated requests to Damascus, the ICRC has "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," pledged Kellenberger.
Human rights groups say more than 1,100 people have been killed throughout the country since the protests erupted in mid-March.
© 2011 AFP