News / Middle East

ICRC Expects to Visit More Detainees in Syrian Jails

Swiss Jakob Kellenberger, President of the International Committee of the Red Cross, talks to the media about his visit to Syria, during a press conference at the ICRC headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, September 6, 2011.
Swiss Jakob Kellenberger, President of the International Committee of the Red Cross, talks to the media about his visit to Syria, during a press conference at the ICRC headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, September 6, 2011.

The International Committee of the Red Cross says Syrian authorities have agreed to give Red Cross workers greater access to detainees amid a government crackdown on dissent. The deal was one of several struck by the ICRC leader during a two-day visit to Syria, where he met with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and other senior officials.

Syrian authorities have arrested thousands of people protesting the rule of President Assad. The human rights group Amnesty International reports at least 88 people have died in detention since the anti-government uprising began in March.

The ICRC has been trying to gain access to the prisons for months to assess the condition and treatment of the detainees. ICRC President Jakob Kellenberger finally succeeded this week in persuading Syria’s president to allow a visit to go ahead.  

An ICRC spokesman, Hicham Hassan, says this first visit is significant and the organization has received promises of more visits to come. “What has already been discussed with the Syrian authorities, be it during our president’s meeting with President Bashar al-Assad or prior to that through our delegation, is that the ICRC will have access to all places of detention under the Ministry of Interior," he said.

ICRC representatives visited the Damascus Central prison in Adra, a suburb, on Sunday. They hope to soon visit other jails including those under the control of different branches of the government, such as the Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Defense.  Hassan says the ICRC’s goal is to be able to visit all detainees in all prisons throughout the country.

While in Syria, Kellenberger broached a number of humanitarian issues with the Syrian president.  He says a main concern is to make sure the wounded and sick are able to obtain medical care.  He says he clearly told President Assad concrete measures must be taken to ensure that everybody in need of treatment receives it.

“And, related to this, another concern I had to bring up was really the protection of the medical mission," said Kellenberger. "I really had to underline that the medical mission has really to be respected.  And, it is not just the people carrying out medical assistance who have to be respected and who have to be in a position that they can do their work without fear.”  

Kellenberger says the Syrian authorities also have agreed to grant the ICRC greater and quicker access to places affected by violence so the organization can provide assistance and protection to people caught up in these deadly encounters.  

He says he will be closely monitoring developments to made sure the Syrian authorities keep their promises.

Follow our Middle East reports on Twitter
and discuss them on our Facebook page.

You May Like

Obama: Alaskans Feel Signs of Climate Change

They're seeing bigger storm surges as sea ice melts, more wildfires, erosion of glaciers, shorelines More

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries More

Magical Photo Slides Show Native Americans in Late 1800s

Walter McClintock spent 20 years photographing the Blackfoot Indians and their vanishing culture at the dawn of the modern age More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs