News / Middle East

    Syria Grants Red Cross Access to Prison

    Syria's President Bashar al-Assad (L) meets Jakob Kellenberger, president of the International Committee of the Red Cross [ICRC], in Damascus, Syria, September 5, 2011.
    Syria's President Bashar al-Assad (L) meets Jakob Kellenberger, president of the International Committee of the Red Cross [ICRC], in Damascus, Syria, September 5, 2011.

    The International Committee of the Red Cross says its delegates, for the first time, have been allowed to visit people detained by the Syrian authorities.  Access to the prisoners was granted during a visit by the ICRC president to Syria.

    The organization says delegates visited detainees in the Damascus Central Prison, in the suburb of Adra. Spokeswoman Carla Haddad Mardini tells VOA this first-ever visit to detainees in Syria is a significant step forward.  But, she adds, it is just the first step.

    “The idea is to be able to visit regularly, to be able to assess the conditions of treatment and detention of detainees, to be able to speak to them in private and to be able to visit other places of detention," says Mardini. "So, this is one amongst many places of detention and the ICRC’s ambition is to be able to access all of them.”

    Mardini says she cannot disclose how many prisoners were visited.  She says information about the total number of prisoners and the number of places of detention in Syria also is confidential.  

    She says after ICRC delegates assess the condition and treatment of the detainees, they share their findings with the Syrian authorities.  And, if there are any problems, she says the organization suggests ways of improving the situation of the inmates.  

    “Another thing is to be able to speak in private with detainees and those that are held in isolation, those who are held in groups, to be able to discuss with them in private their situation and to understand their needs and any potential problems," she says.  "So we can then discuss the issue with the detaining authorities in view of seeing an improvement in the shortest delay.  And, then we repeat visits to make sure improvements have taken place.”

    Jakob Kellenberger, president of the International Committee of the Red Cross (file photo)
    Jakob Kellenberger, president of the International Committee of the Red Cross (file photo)
    The ICRC president, Jakob Kellenberger, last visited Syria in June.  Before leaving Damascus this time, he met with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Mardini says that Kellenberger told the Syrian president it is crucial for people who are wounded and sick to obtain medical care without delay.

    She says Kellenberger also mentioned his concerns about the humanitarian situation in Syria and discussed the rules governing the use of force.  She says ICRC chief reminded President Assad that under international law, security forces have an obligation to respect the physical and psychological well-being of people.  

    The Syrian leader is facing international pressure to halt a violent crackdown on political dissent.

    The rights group Amnesty International reported recently that at least 88 people have died in Syrian detention since the anti-government uprising began in March.

    The United Nations says more than 2,200 people have been killed in the government's crackdown.  

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

    You May Like

    Video Obama Remembers Fallen Troops for Memorial Day

    President urges Americans this holiday weekend to 'take a moment and offer a silent word of prayer or public word of thanks' to country's veterans

    Upsurge of Migratory Traffic Across Sahara From West to North Africa

    A report by the International Organization for Migration finds more than 60,000 migrants have transited through the Agadez region of Niger between February and April

    UN Blocks Access to Journalist Advocacy Group

    United Nations has rejected bid from nonprofit journalist advocacy group that wanted 'consultative status,' ranking that would have given them greater access to UN meetings

    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.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora