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

Pundits Split Over Long-Term US Role in Afghanistan

Security pact remains condition for American presence beyond 2014; deadline criticized More

US Eyes Islamic State Threat

Officials warn that IS could pose a threat to US homeland More

Video Ukraine: Captured Troops Proof of Russian Role in Separatist Fight

Moscow says Russian troops crossed into Ukrainian territory by mistake 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.
Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocksi
X
George Putic
August 25, 2014 4:00 PM
How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocks

How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ukraine: Captured Troops Proof of Russian Role in Separatist Fight

Ukrainian officials say they have captured Russian soldiers on Ukrainian territory -- the latest accusation of Moscow's involvement in the conflict in eastern Ukraine. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the Ukrainian side of the battle, where soldiers are convinced of Russia's role.
Video

Video Rubber May Soon Come From Dandelions

Synthetic rubber has been around for more than a century, but quality tires for cars, trucks and aircraft still need up to 40 percent or more natural rubber content. As the source of natural rubber, the rubber tree, is prone to disease and can be affected by bad weather. So scientists are looking for replacements. And as VOA’s George Putic reports, they may have found one in a ubiquitous weed.
Video

Video Jewish Life in Argentina Reflected in Yiddish Tango

Jewish people from across Europe and Russia have been immigrating to Argentina for hundreds of years. They brought with them dance music that were eventually mixed with Argentine tango. The result is Yiddish tango -- a fusion of melodies and cultural experiences that is still evolving today. Elizabeth Lee reports from the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles, where one band is bringing Yiddish tango to an American audience.
Video

Video Peace Returns to Ferguson as Community Tries to Heal

Thousands of people nationwide are expected to attend funeral services Monday in the U.S. Midwestern city of St. Louis, Missouri, for Michael Brown, the unarmed African-American teenager who was fatally shot by a white police officer August 9 in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson. The shooting touched off days of violent demonstrations there, resulting in more than 100 arrests. VOA's Chris Simkins reports from Ferguson where the community is trying to move on after weeks of racial tension.
Video

Video Meeting in Minsk May Hinge on Putin Story

The presidents of Russia and Ukraine are expected to meet face-to-face Tuesday in Minsk, along with European leaders, for talks on the situation in Ukraine. Political analysts say the much welcomed dialogue could help bring an end to months of deadly clashes between pro-Russia separatists and Ukrainian forces in the country's southeast. But much depends on the actions of one man, Russian President Vladimir Putin. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video Artists Shun Russia's Profanity Law

Russia in July enacted a law threatening fines for publicly displayed profanity in media, films, literature, music and theater. The restriction, the toughest since the Soviet era, aims to protect the Russian language and culture and has been welcomed by those who say cursing is getting out of control. But many artists reject the move as a patronizing and ineffective act of censorship in line with a string of conservative morality laws. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video British Fighters on Frontline of ISIS Information War

Security services are racing to identify the Islamic State militant who beheaded U.S. journalist James Foley in Syria. The murderer spoke English on camera with a British accent. It’s estimated that several hundred British citizens are fighting for the Islamic State, also called ISIL or ISIS, alongside thousands of other foreign jihadists. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from the center of the investigation in London.

AppleAndroid