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Red Cross gets aid to Syria cities but needs truce

Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation - Tue, 28 Feb 2012 15:40 GMT
Author: Reuters
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* Food, blankets delivered but not distributed

* Agency says daily truce window needed to get aid to people

* Red Cross unable to enter besieged Homs district (Adds details)

GENEVA, Feb 28 (Reuters) - The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) delivered food and other supplies to the Syrian cities of Homs and Idlib on Tuesday but said better security was needed before the aid could be distributed to needy civilians.

It is vital that both Syrian authorities and opposition groups agree to implement a daily humanitarian ceasefire to allow in life-saving aid, the independent agency said.

"We managed to bring relief material into Homs city and Idlib today which was handed over to the Syrian Arab Red Crescent branches in both cities to be distributed as soon as possible," ICRC spokesman Hicham Hassan said in Geneva. "It needs suitable security conditions.

"That is why it is essential to implement our initiative of a humanitarian ceasefire so the assistance can be distributed to all people in need of help," he added.

Syrian forces shelled opposition strongholds, killing at least 25 people, on Tuesday.

Neither the ICRC nor volunteers of the Syrian Arab Red Crescent were able to enter the besieged Homs district of Baba Amro, Hassan said.

Ambulances of the Syrian Arab Red Crescent evacuated three people from Baba Amro on Monday, an elderly woman, and a pregnant woman and her husband, the ICRC said.

A wounded British photographer was smuggled out of Homs into neighbouring Lebanon.

The aid delivered by the ICRC on Tuesday included enough food for several thousand people for one month as well as blankets, soap and other hygiene material, Hassan said.

The ICRC, the only agency to deploy international aid workers in Syria, issued a public appeal a week ago for a daily two-hour cessation of hostilities.

"People need to have a daily window during which they know they will receive the necessary help," Hassan said. (Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)

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