Geneva/Damascus (ICRC) – The president of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Peter Maurer, has begun a visit to Syria to assess the humanitarian situation and negotiate greater field access for the ICRC in the country.
Over the next three days, the ICRC president will hold talks in Damascus with a number of senior Syrian government officials and with the leadership and volunteers of the Syrian Arab Red Crescent, the ICRC’s main partner in the country. Mr Maurer will also be visiting people suffering the effects of the conflict to observe the situation first-hand.
"I am deeply concerned about the escalating violence and its impact on civilians," said Mr Maurer. "Our activities have expanded significantly over the last year, but we need to be allowed to do much more. I am determined to press for greater field access for the ICRC and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent – in particular, to improve the impartial delivery of medical aid in besieged areas. Another priority is to ensure that our staff are rapidly given access to Syrian places of detention to assess conditions and treatment."
Syria is the site of the ICRC's largest operation in terms of resources committed. Despite poor security conditions and many constraints on access, the organization has 200 staff working in the country distributing food and other essentials, restoring water supplies, and helping members of families separated by the conflict to stay in touch with each other. The ICRC is also helping Syrians who have had to flee the violence to Jordan, Lebanon or Iraq.