Deraa must be allowed to receive aid and siege lifted, NGOs tell Syria

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  Non-governmental organisations are calling for aid to be let in to the besieged southern city of Deraa amid signs that heavy-handed military operations there may be coming to an end.

“The siege should be lifted, food allowed in, and communications reinstated,”

said Nadim Houry, a senior researcher for Human Rights Watch as local semi-official newspaper al-Watan reported presidentBashar al-Assad as saying the 10-day army operation would end “very soon”.

International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement

The siege on the city has been the most brutal element of a vicious campaign to crush dissent that has led to widespread international condemnation. The Red Cross on Tuesday called on Syria to allow its health workers safe access to people injured in bloody protests and let it visit those who have been arrested.

“We need to have larger access, especially in the south, and here I talk about Deraa,” ICRC spokesman Hisham Hassan told a news briefing in Geneva.

There is growing evidence of a humanitarian crisis in the city. No one has been allowed in and reports trickling out paint a devastating picture of a population suffering from a lack of medical supplies, food and water. Communications are still cut off. Few agencies are licensed to work in Syria and those who are have specific remits to work with Iraqi refugees, who fled in the wake of the US war on Iraq.

Meanwhile, some activists expressed concerns that protests could fizzle out as Syrians, who have braved security services’ gunfire, fear becoming one of thousands being rounded up.

The London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said hundreds had been charged with “maligning the prestige of the state”, which carries a three-year sentence.

I would rather be killed than be locked up and tortured,” said one young man in the capital, echoing many others. “We know what happens to people inside.”

Amnesty International, which has not been allowed access to Syria, on Tuesday revealed details of detainees who said they were beaten with batons and cables and subjected to harsh conditions. One said that after being stripped and beaten he was made to lick his blood off the floor.

Diplomats and some opposition figures continue to urge the government to undertake national dialogue. Over the past few weeks Assad has met with local delegations, and reportedly….  Read more…..

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  1. May 6, 2011 at 11:37 am

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