Amnesty demands access to Homs, Syria

2012-02-24 09:36

Beirut – Amnesty International demanded today that aid agencies be given immediate access to Homs and other besieged Syrian protest cities, as world powers gathered in Tunisia to discuss the bloodshed.

The London-based human rights watchdog said it had received the names of 465 people reported killed in Homs since regime forces began pounding rebel neighbourhoods of Syria’s third-largest city three weeks ago.

“The accounts we are hearing from Homs are increasingly dire, with people lacking the most basic amenities,” said

Ann Harrison, interim deputy director of Amnesty’s Middle East and North Africa programme.

“The Syrian authorities must immediately cease this relentless bombardment and allow full, immediate and unhindered humanitarian access to affected areas,” she said.

Amnesty said residents of Baba Amr in Homs reported that shelling and exchanges of fire had destroyed its electricity and water networks, and there was little prospect of their being restored.

There was now just one doctor providing treatment at the makeshift clinic in the rebel-held district.

Amnesty urged the more than 60 nations gathering in Tunis for a “Friends of Syria” conference later today to put human rights concerns at the centre of their discussions.

Amnesty also called for more to be done to help Syrians fleeing the regime’s crackdown, which another Britain-based watchdog, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, says has left more than 7?600 people dead since March last year.

“We look to all Syria’s neighbours to provide adequate accommodation and medical care to the people who have been driven from their homes by the relentless violence,” said Harrison.

“Members of the international community should provide financial or material support to help these efforts.”

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