Syria update - March 19th

The president of the ICRC, Jakob Kellenberger, met today with the Russian minister of foreign affairs, Sergei Lavrov, to discuss the humanitarian situation in Syria and the aid operations of the ICRC and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent. At the meeting, the ICRC received positive indications of support for its operational priorities and for its proposal that there be a two-hour cessation in the fighting every day to allow assistance to reach those who need it. The meeting also emphasized the importance of neutral and independent humanitarian action in Syria today.

The ICRC is hopeful that meetings like this will lead to concrete results on the ground in the coming days and weeks. The decision on its call for a daily cessation in the fighting remains in the hands of the Syrian authorities and the Syrian opposition who are the ICRC's main partners in discussion.

Meanwhile, the ICRC and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent sent 12 truckloads of food, mattresses, blankets and hygiene items in two convoys to the provinces of Homs and Aleppo today. The convoy in Homs province travelled directly to the town of Za'afaranah, nearly 30 kilometres to the north-east of the city of Homs, where aid was distributed. The ICRC and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent had visited Za'afaranah last week to assess the humanitarian situation and the need for aid.