Red Cross Denied Entrance to Needy Syrian Neighborhood

Aid teams reached the battle-stricken city of Homs on Friday, only to be refused entrance to one of the devastated districts of the town. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said in a statement they had been granted permission to reach the area of Babr Amr yesterday with humanitarian assistance, which has apparently since been delayed if not revoked.

“It is unacceptable that people who have been in need of emergency assistance for weeks have still not received any help,” said ICRC president Jakob Kellenberger in the statement. “We are staying in Homs tonight in the hope of entering Baba Amr in the very near future. In addition, many families have fled Baba Amr, and we will help them as soon as we possibly can.”

Teams from the ICRC and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent were waiting in Homs since Friday morning.

The regime of President Bashar al-Assad has killed thousands of Syrians since anti-government protests erupted in the country roughly one year ago. Opposition armed forces have since joined the fight, escalating the violence. In addition to the death toll, the fighting from the Syrian regime against Homs has led to serious humanitarian concerns.

“We reiterate the appeal we made several days ago, for a daily two-hour halt in the fighting to allow humanitarian assistance,” added Mr Kellenberger. “The humanitarian situation was very serious then and it is worse now.”

Earlier on Friday, the ICRC told The Mideast Update by email that the aid teams had reached Homs with seven trucks, two SARC Damascus vehicles and one ICRC vehicle.

In addition to providing humanitarian assistance, the teams were also hoping to evacuate dead and wounded.

(By Joshua Spurlock,, March 2, 2012)