ICRC Ready to Operate in De-Escalation Zones in Syria / News / News agency Inforos
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ICRC Ready to Operate in De-Escalation Zones in Syria

05.06.2017 17:22

ICRC Ready to Operate in De-Escalation Zones in Syria
Context:

The head of the International Committee of the Red Cross said the de-escalation zones in Syria should not become "prisons".

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is ready to operate in Syria's safe zones when they are created, however, it is necessary to know the conditions at the scene in order to carry out humanitarian operations, President Peter Maurer told Sputnik in an interview.

"Our point here is only that if we want to be able to operate in those zones, we have to have access. If we want to have safety for people, we also have to listen to people and what they want. People have to be able to go in and out of those safe zones," Maurer said, adding that it was necessary to know the conditions of work at the scene.

According to Maurer, future safe or de-escalation zones should not become detention centers for people.

"Safe zones, disengagement zones or whatever you call it must not become prisons, in which people are contained, but zones, in which people could can reasonably find safety and life… Our concern is always that all those words suggest safety, while not really providing safety. For us the denomination is not so important. The question is whether the result is a humanitarian space, in which we can move by consensus," Maurer added.

At the Astana meeting on Syria on May 3-4, three Syrian ceasefire guarantor states — Russia, Turkey and Iran — finalized and signed a memorandum on establishment of four safe zones in Syria. The four zones span the northwestern Idlib province and parts of the neighboring Latakia, Hama and Aleppo, the north of the central Homs province, Eastern Ghouta near Damascus, as well as southern Daraa and Quneitra regions. The memorandum came into force on May 6.

The signed document notes that within the borders of the four security zones hostilities between the warring parties should be ceased, use of any kind of weapons, including aircraft would be prohibited, delivery of humanitarian aid and medicine would be secured.

The ICRC is likely review its budget for humanitarian operations in Syria as early as this summer.

"I'm sure it will. Because we have always said ICRC will calibrate its operations according to needs, access and ability to fundraise. That’s what determines how we can operate. If access improves and needs increase, we will try to fundraise more. For the time being it’s premature to say whether ICRC will have another emergency appeal for Syria. For the time being we still have money," Maurer said, adding that the issue of reviewing the budget for the Syrian operations is "a discussion that over summer will definitely emerge."

The implementation of the de-escalation zones in Syria is possible, Maurer stated, adding that it would bring more people in need returning to "relatively stable zones."

"If there is more stability and access and people in need we will try to do our best to recalculate what we are reasonably being able to deliver," Maurer stressed.

One of the positive achievements of the Astana talks on the Syrian settlement is bringing the "right people" to the negotiating table, namely those in charge of the security situation on the ground, Maurer told Sputnik.

"There is no question [about] the fact that in Astana you have representatives of those who carry weapons in Syria around the table has been a positive element in helping bringing the right people to the table. I don't say that they take the right decisions but at least the right people are at the table. If you want to have safety in Syria in certain regions it's important to talk to those who have weapons and who are in command of those who have weapons," he said.

The ICRC president stressed the importance of concluding as many agreements offering "better access and better security" as possible.

"I think the whole issue over the next weeks and months will be will these zones materialize into zones of tranquility which offer security access and acceptance to humanitarian actors as well as some freedom for people in order to reconstitute their lives, and that's the critical issue," Maurer stressed.

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