ICRC head Maurer wants greater role in Syria

Jan. 10, 2014 at 10:48 AM

DAMASCUS, Syria, Jan. 10 (UPI) -- President of the International Committee of the Red Cross Peter Maurer said Friday he was calling for greater access to Syrians in need of urgent medical care.

"I am determined to press for greater field access for the ICRC and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent, in particular, to improve the impartial delivery of medical aid in besieged areas," he said in a statement Friday.

Maurer said Friday he'd spend the next three days in Damascus working with Syrian and Red Crescent officials to get a better understanding the needs on the ground.

"I am deeply concerned about the escalating violence and its impact on civilians," he said. "Our activities have expanded significantly over the last year, but we need to be allowed to do much more."

The United Nations' World Health Organization said earlier this week the health situation in Syria has been in a steady state of deterioration since the conflict began. WHO said attacks on healthcare workers, the destruction of health facilities and a general shortage of medicine was creating an emergency situation in Syria.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Jan. 1 it documented 130,433 deaths in Syria as a result of the civil war that began in March 2011. The death toll includes more than 7,000 children.

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