Syria top priority for Red Cross in 2014 despite limited access

GENEVA - Desperate civilians in a swathe of Syria from Aleppo in the north to the southern border are largely out of reach of aid workers, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said on Thursday.
Throughout the country, the wounded are often denied medical treatment by either government officials or rebels, while hospitals and ambulances remain targets of unlawful attacks, ICRC President Peter Maurer said.
The ICRC is seeking 105.3 million Swiss francs ($116.27 million) in 2014 for Syria, its largest operation worldwide.
Syria accounts for one-tenth of its 1.29 billion Swiss franc emergency appeal for 80 countries, the largest in the 150-year history of the independent humanitarian agency.
"Syria will remain a top priority for 2014. Winter is coming with no improvement in sight. More death, injuries and displacement are causing immense suffering and tearing apart families in besieged areas. Many civilians have not had proper access to food, water, medical care or electricity for more than a year," Maurer told a news conference.
"Despite all our calls to the parties to the conflict to respect people's rights to medical care without any discrimination, we are not seeing any light at the end of the tunnel," he said.
In the last four months, the ICRC has been able to increase the number of Syrians it reaches with food and water to about 500,000 from 200,000 previously, according to Maurer.
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