Syria: Red Cross Enters Besieged Homs Neighborhood

February 24, 2012  

Red Cross aid workers entered a besieged neighborhood in the Syrian city of Homs on Friday and are negotiating with authorities and rebels to evacuate the wounded there, The Associated Press reported.

The wounded include two Western journalists who were injured in the same government attack that killed American war correspondent Marie Colvin and French photographer Remi Ochlik earlier this week.

The negotiations process is part of a wider international push to bring aid to people in the areas hardest hit by Syria’s efforts to quash the uprising against President Bashar Assad’s rule, AP reported.

Hicham Hassan of the International Committee of the Red Cross told the news agency that the ICRC and its local Syrian branch have been working in the Baba Amr neighborhood of Homs since Friday afternoon.

He added the team is “negotiating with both Syrian authorities and opposition in an attempt to evacuate all persons in need of assistance with no exception.”

French journalists Edith Bouvier and William Daniels have asked for help leaving the embattled city after Bouvier was wounded in the shelling Wednesday that killed Colvin and Ochlik, according to the AP report.

A YouTube video posted Thursday showed Bouvier pleading to be allowed to leave the city in order to receive the proper medical treatment.

“I need, as soon as possible, a cease-fire and a medically equipped car in good condition to drive us to Lebanon,” she said in the video.

The Red Cross did not say how its team reached the area and whether they were accompanied by Syrian authorities.

Saleh Dabbakeh, a spokesman for the International Committee of the Red Cross in Damascus, told AP before the visit was announced that volunteer medics work in most of Homs’ neighborhoods, but that Baba Amr was too dangerous to enter.

Baba Amr has been targeted by the harshest crackdown against any of the handful of rebel-held areas in the city of about one million residents. Syrian security forces have besieged the area for weeks and shelled it daily.

Earlier on Friday, Kol Yisrael radio reported that Homs residents are saying that the humanitarian situation in the city has greatly deteriorated.

A resident of the city was quoted in the report as having told the Al-Arabiya network that the humanitarian situation is so bad, that those who do not die by the bombardments of the Syrian army will ultimately die of starvation.

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