Mobile  |  About us  |  Photos  |  Videos  |  Subscriptions  |  RSS Feeds  |  Today's Paper  |  Classifieds  |  Contact Us
The Daily Star
THURSDAY, 17 APR 2014
06:28 PM Beirut time
Weather    
Beirut
21 °C
Blom Index
BLOM
1,214.01down
Middle East
Follow this story Print RSS Feed ePaper share this
Red Cross head had 'positive' talks with Assad
Associated Press
Peter Maurer, president of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), answers a reporter's question after a news conference in Geneva on Sept. 7, 2012. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse
Peter Maurer, president of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), answers a reporter's question after a news conference in Geneva on Sept. 7, 2012. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse
A+ A-

GENEVA: The new president of the Red Cross said Friday he held "positive" talks with Syria's president this week to gain access to detainees and free up deliveries of badly needed aid.

Peter Maurer, president of the Geneva-based International Committee of the Red Cross, said his talks with Bashar Assad were "sober, to the point" and "clearly focused on humanitarian needs," such as releasing deliveries of food, medicine and other supplies to hundreds of thousands of people.

Maurer told reporters he also visited rural areas around Damascus where residents told him "horrific accounts of armed attacks" and left him shocked.

He said the accounts left him with no doubt that Syria is engulfed in civil war since "all features of armed conflict are unfolding in front of us."

Maurer, who just returned from a three-day visit, said the Red Cross assumes it has access to prison detainees based on Syria's obligations under international humanitarian law, but that Assad gave no firm promises of how that would be implemented.

Assad, he added, "expressed his readiness to address this issue."

Since the uprising began in March 2011, there have been tens of thousands of people detained in Syria, Maurer said, and "their basic rights must be upheld and they must be able to get in touch with their families."

Asked his impressions of Assad, Maurer, a veteran Swiss diplomat, declined to specify. But he said Assad and other ministers generally agreed on the need to reduce barriers to delivering aid.

At his first press conference at Red Cross headquarters since taking the helm of the Swiss-based organization, Maurer was asked what made him think Assad would honor commitments he makes.

"You have a saying in English: Proof of the pudding is in the eating," he replied.

At their meeting Assad asked "very detailed questions" that left Maurer convinced that "he is seriously interested in" trying to find solutions to the many challenges and problems, he said.

"The conflict is unfolding in a very different way in different parts of the country," Maurer said. "We are confronted with a new situation in a new context."

The Red Cross' assessment of the level of fighting, particularly that it is a civil war, has important legal and humanitarian ramifications because the group's role as overseer of the Geneva Conventions makes it is the arbiter of the rules of war.

That stature and its neutrality also lend it a unique role in the monitoring of prison conditions worldwide.

"The needs are growing while the violence is expanding," Maurer said. "Many men, women and children who could be saved are dying on a daily basis because they lack access to medical care."

Maurer said in answer to a reporter's question that the Red Cross was looking at ways of engaging similarly with the Syrian opposition, but that any such talks are made more difficult because of the fragmented nature of the armed anti-government groups.

 
Home Middle East
 
     
 
Syria
Advertisement
Comments  

Your feedback is important to us!

We invite all our readers to share with us their views and comments about this article.

Disclaimer: Comments submitted by third parties on this site are the sole responsibility of the individual(s) whose content is submitted. The Daily Star accepts no responsibility for the content of comment(s), including, without limitation, any error, omission or inaccuracy therein. Please note that your email address will NOT appear on the site.

comments powered by Disqus
Advertisement


Baabda 2014
Advertisement
Follow us on Facebook Follow us on Twitter Follow us on Linked In Follow us on Google+ Subscribe to our Live Feed
Multimedia
Images  
Pictures of the day
A selection of images from around the world- Thursday April 17, 2014
View all view all
Advertisement
Rami G. Khouri
Rami G. Khouri
Silencing Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s hate talk
Michael Young
Michael Young
Why confuse gibberish with knowledge?
David Ignatius
David Ignatius
Putin will keep rolling, until Obama says no
View all view all
Advertisement
cartoon
 
Click to View Articles
 
 
News
Business
Opinion
Sports
Culture
Technology
Entertainment
Privacy Policy | Anti-Spamming Policy | Disclaimer | Copyright Notice
© 2014 The Daily Star - All Rights Reserved - Designed and Developed By IDS