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Syrian conflict "a cycle of despair"

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22 January 2014

Syrian Arab Red Crescent volunteer speaks to women

A global Red Cross and Red Crescent leader has described the Syrian conflict as a "cycle of despair" .

Bekele Geleta made the statement while appealing for greater respect for and safety of humanitarian workers in the country. Since the conflict began three years ago, 34 Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC) volunteers have been killed in the line of duty.

Mr Geleta is secretary general of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. He was speaking days before the Geneva II peace conference, an international meeting about the future of the country.

He said the humanitarian consequences of the conflict were deepening, with no end to it in sight. He added: “There is a global responsibility to break the cycle of despair.”

Mr Geleta also highlighted the protection owed to those providing humanitarian assistance in such circumstances under international law.

About nine million people in Syria are affected by the conflict. SARC, one of the few agencies working in many parts of the country, is bringing more than three million people a month support including food, healthcare and relief. The British Red Cross has been supporting this work since 2011.

Mr Geleta said: “As the world turns its eyes to the Geneva peace talks this week, our concern, first and foremost, is for the Syrian people and the desperate humanitarian crisis they are facing.

“That is why we are calling upon all world leaders and all parties involved in the Syrian conflict to do their utmost to ensure the safety of aid workers so that aid can reach those most in need.”

In October 2013 the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement made an unprecedented call for all parties to the conflict in Syria to guarantee the safety of aid workers and ensure their unimpeded, immediate access to people in need across the country.

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