Syria’s president has expressed “positive commitment” on the Red Cross’ request to request to scale up its operations in the conflict-torn country.
This is according to International Committee of the Red Cross spokesman Hicham Hasan, who spoke with the press shortly after a meeting between ICRC chief Peter Maurer and Syrian President Bashar Assad in Damascus. The two leaders discussed ways to improve the distribution of aid to civilians and possible resumption of prison visits. The Red Cross president stressed the importance of quick access to medical services, among other issues, Hassan said.
“The meeting between Maurer and al-Assad lasted 45 min. The president expressed positive commitment to our requests,” the Red Cross also said on its account on social media site Twitter.
Red Cross and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent are two of very few humanitarian aid groups working in Syria. Both have faced various challenges in the country’s challenging environment, including the loss of lives of some of their staff and volunteers.
Assad’s “positive commitment” could mean safer passage for Red Cross and Syrian Red Crescent workers as well as more access to aid for Syrian citizens. Some diplomats, however, are wary of whether Assad will follow through with his promise.
“The commitments from Assad are a necessary step but far more important is whether those commitments are realised in practice,” Reuters quotes a Western diplomat the news agency did not name. “The ICRC experience to date doesn’t give us too much cause for optimism.”
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