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ICRC meets Syrian president

  |   Sept. 4, 2012 at 1:47 PM
DAMASCUS, Syria, Sept. 4 (UPI) -- It's vital that members of the Red Cross and Red Crescent maintain the ability to respond to the situation on the ground in Syria, the ICRC president said.

International Committee of the Red Cross President Peter Maurer arrived in Syria this week for a three-day visit. He's to meet with top government officials, including Syrian President Bashar Assad and Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem.

"At a time when more and more civilians are being exposed to extreme violence, it is of the utmost importance that we and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent succeed in significantly scaling up our humanitarian response," Maurer said in a statement. "It is vital that we build on what has already been achieved on the ground."

The U.N. refugee agency reported Tuesday that the number of Syrians fleeing the country increased to 103,415 for August, the highest monthly total since the conflict began last year. The total for registered refugees or those awaiting registration stands at more than 235,000, the agency said.

Melissa Fleming, a spokeswoman for the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, said most Syrians said they were fleeing the violence in general while some received direct threats of attack.

Members of the Red Cross and Red Crescent have been killed in the line of duty during the Syrian civil war.

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