ICRC head Peter Maurer speaks during a news conference at the Movempick in Beirut, Wednesday, Jan. 14, 2015. (The Daily Star/Khalil Hassan)
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A top official at the International Committee for the Red Cross said his organization would be willing to help set up a prisoner exchange for Lebanese servicemen captured during clashes in the northeastern town of Arsal.Peter Maurer, the president of the ICRC, also said new restrictions on the entry of Syrians into Lebanon were a matter of Lebanese sovereignty, but his organization was working with authorities to ensure that humanitarian cases were unaffected. Maurer said the ICRC had increased its Lebanon program budget from about $4 million to a little over $43 million, in the steepest increase in its projects around the world last year.Maurer outlined his organization's priorities in the region in the coming year."There is no question that ICRC will continue to focus on the key areas of its competence: on water, sanitation, medical, and livelihoods; on responding to impact of violence; on ensuring international humanitarian law in the conduct of hostilities; and on detention, by engaging with all armed actors," he said. But he said the ICRC has not been able to access key vulnerable communities in the region.
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