Red Cross urges daily 2-hour halt in Syria clashes
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Last Updated: Tuesday, February 21, 2012, 22:57
Beirut: The Red Cross on Tuesday called for a daily two-hour cease-fire in Syria so that it can deliver emergency aid and reach people who are wounded or sick, an appeal that came as government troops heavily shelled rebellious districts in the resistance stronghold of Homs, killing at least 30 people.

Activists said the intense shelling of Baba Amr in Homs lasted a few hours but did not seem to be the start of a widely expected military offensive aimed at retaking rebel-held neighborhoods in the central region. Many of the 30 people killed were children, activists said, warning that Homs is already facing a humanitarian catastrophe.

The attacks compounded fears of a new round of bloody urban combat in a country careening toward all-out civil war.

"The current situation requires an immediate decision to implement a humanitarian pause in the fighting," said Jakob Kellenberger, the president of the Geneva-based International Committee of the Red Cross.

"In Homs and in other affected areas, entire families have been stuck for days in their homes, unable to step outside to get bread, other food or water, or to obtain medical care," he said in a statement.

The Red Cross said Monday that it has been negotiating with Syrian authorities and members of the opposition to agree a temporary cease-fire so that emergency aid can reach beleaguered parts of the country.

"It should last at least two hours every day, so that ICRC staff and Syrian Arab Red Crescent volunteers have enough time to deliver aid and evacuate the wounded and the sick," said Kellenberger.

Bureau Report

First Published: Tuesday, February 21, 2012, 22:57

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