ICRC president heads to Syria for aid talks

Jakob Kellenberger will meet with Syrian PM, foreign minister to demand greater access to civilians, including those hurt, detained in crackdowns.

June 19, 2011 15:46
1 minute read.
Syrian refugees in Turkish camp

Syrian refugees in Turkish camp 311 (R). (photo credit: REUTERS/Osman Orsal)

GENEVA - The head of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Jakob Kellenberger, will arrive in Damascus on Sunday evening for talks with Syrian officials on expanding the agency's relief effort in the country.

The two-day talks follow an appeal by the independent aid agency on June 10 for greater access to the civilian population, including people who have been wounded or detained in a military crackdown on unrest.

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"Talks will focus on the humanitarian situation in Syria and on the role the ICRC is ready to play in order to assist people affected by the ongoing violence," the ICRC said in a statement.

Kellenberger, a former senior Swiss diplomat, will meet Syrian Prime Minister Adel Safar and Foreign Minister Walid Moualem, as well as senior officials of the Syrian Red Crescent, it said.

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The ICRC and Syrian Red Crescent have carried out short visits to Deraa, Tartous and Homs in the past month but their limited nature have made it difficult to get a full picture of the needs, the Geneva-based agency said.

Syrian troops and gunmen loyal to President Bashar Assad stormed the town of Bdama near the Turkish border on Saturday, burning houses and arresting dozens, witnesses said, in a persistent military campaign to crush a popular revolt.

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