Red Cross says security concerns barring Homs evacuation

25th June 2012, Comments 0 comments

Red Cross chief Jakob Kellenberger said on Monday that booby traps and a lack of clear agreement from Syria's rival sides were preventing aid workers from evacuating the sick and wounded from Homs.

"There are real security concerns -- booby traps and other things," Kellenberger he told reporters at the launch of the annual report of the International Committee of the Red Cross.

The ICRC, working with the Syrian Arab Red Crescent, tried last week to enter the old city of Homs in central Syria after agreement from the government and opposition but the attempts had to be aborted as shooting continued.

"In order to go to a place in a situation like it is now, it's important to have an unambiguous agreement of all those concerned in the violence so that you can do your job," Kellenberger said.

"We today again have made an intervention on the government side to go to Homs," he added. "We also need the reaction of the armed opposition.

"We do also have to make our evaluation of the security situation."

The ICRC president said it was difficult to hold structured talks with the opposition since it comprised several groups.

Kellenberger has visited Syria on several occasions since the revolt against the regime of President Bashar al-Assad begin in March last year and has held talks with the ruler.

The ICRC president is retiring after 12 years and will be succeeded from July by former Swiss state secretary for foreign affairs Peter Maurer.

"I have one regret," Kellenberger told reporters. "It's that there are still wars and it's still the most vulnerable who suffer, not those who engineer them."

© 2012 AFP

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