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MOSCOW, March 19 (Itar-Tass) — The need for a daily humanitarian truce in the fighting in Syria has noticeably increased, president of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) Jakob Kellenberger said on Monday in an in an interview with Itar-Tass and the Vesti-24 news TV channel after a meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.
“The ICRC less than a month ago put forward the idea of ··the need for a humanitarian truce in the fighting in Syria, for at least two hours a day,” Kellenberger recalled. “At a meeting with Sergei Lavrov it was stressed that at present the need for such truce has increased even more.”
“We fear that the situation we saw in Homs several weeks ago could be repeated in other areas where clashes occur,” the ICRC president said. “This is totally unacceptable for us.”
“I told the Russian minister that just recently we have got more space for our activities, but we need more possibilities,” he stressed. “In addition, we need to conduct activities, which we call ‘the protection work’ in our organisation.”
“Here we express concern over two issues: we would very much like to make it so that the wounded and sick could apply for medical care and get such aid without fear that after that they would be ‘mistreated,’” Kellenberger said. “We would also want to provide an opportunity for medical personnel to provide aid without fear of punishment for it.”
“I said in the conversation with Lavrov that within the ‘protection’ activities we need to visit persons who are detained or taken into custody in connection with the ongoing violence,” the ICRC president said. “During such visits we try to make sure that those in custody are kept in decent, or at least acceptable conditions from a humanitarian point of view. Secondly, that they are not subjected to ‘maltreatment.’”
Through the Geneva Conventions, the international community has mandated the ICRC to visit both prisoners of war and civilians interned during armed conflict. Wherever possible, the ICRC also visits people detained in other situations of violence.
“The most important issue for us is to secure a reliable humanitarian truce, and as soon as possible,” Kellenberger said.
“The meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov was not intended for reaching some agreement,” the ICRC president added. “My goal was to get acquainted with the position of Russia.”
“I would like to note with a feeling of satisfaction and gratitude that Sergei Lavrov shares our concern over the above problems,” he said. “As you understand, Russia’s support is very important for us.”