Red Cross seeks further Syria access

21st November 2011, Comments 0 comments

The Red Cross said Monday it was in talks with Syrian authorities to extend its relief efforts in the country where thousands have been killed or detained in a regime crackdown.

"We are trying to do our best but we are not meeting all the needs we are seeing, especially medical," said Yves Daccord, director general of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

"On the detention side we have not moved as far as we wanted.

"We had access to one major prison in Damascus but so far we have not been able to access other places of detention.

"We are absolutely negotiating with the Syrian authorities," Daccord told journalists at a press conference ahead of next week's International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent in Geneva.

Daccord said the organisation had good access to rural areas however and was carrying out assessments and working in hospitals together with the Syrian Red Crescent.

ICRC president Jakob Kellenberger is ready to make a third visit to the country to negotiate further access, he said.

"It's essential that the ICRC can work in the prisons," said Daccord.

"Our team out there is in negotiations with the authorities in Damascus, but if necessary, in the coming days, Mr Kellenberger will make a third trip to Syria."

The UN estimates that 3,500 people have died in the protest crackdown since mid-March.

© 2011 AFP

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