The International Red Cross yesterday urged Syria to immediately lift restrictions on access to casualties in the southern city of Daraa, the epicenter of the crackdown on pro-democracy protests.
“The violence has resulted in a large number of casualties and we fear that as the situation worsens more lives will be lost,” said Marianne Gasser, head of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) delegation in Damascus.
“It is urgent that emergency medical services, first aid workers and others performing life saving tasks swiftly reach those in need,” she added in a statement.
ICRC spokesman Hisham Hassan said the doctors and staff from the agency Syrian Red Crescent and other medical workers needed “immediate access to the injured.”
“So far we have had restricted access to certain areas, however today we need to have more larger access especially in the south, and here I talk about Daraa,” he told journalists.
“We are in touch with Syrian authorities on a daily basis, but so far what we have been able to get is access probably tomorrow or the day after to certain hospitals in rural Damascus, but so far no news about Daraa in the south,” Hassan added.
In related news, a leading human rights activist says Syrian authorities have arrested more than 1,000 people in their latest security sweep.
The head of the National Organization for Human Rights in Syria Ammar Qurabi says his group has documented about 1,000 names of people who were detained across Syrian provinces in door-to-door raids since Saturday. Qurabi said yesterday that many other people have been reported missing.
Meanwhile, authorities in Bahrain arrested two former parliament members of the Gulf kingdom’s main Shiite opposition party as part of a wide crackdown on dissent, a senior party leader said yesterday.
Abdul-Jalil Khalil of the Shiite party al-Wefaq said two of its former lawmakers — Mater Mater and Jawad Fairoz — were taken into custody on Monday night. Khalil said he does not know the details of their arrest.
Al-Wefaq has been the leading political backer of Bahrain’s uprising, inspired by revolts in Tunisia and Egypt earlier this year.
Bahrain’s Sunni rulers declared martial law on March 15 to crush weeks of demonstrations by the country’s Shiite majority, which has demanded greater freedoms, equal rights and a constitutional monarchy with an elected government.
At least 30 people have died since the protests began in the middle of February. Among the dead are also four opposition supporters who died in custody, including a blogger.
Hundreds of Shiite protesters, opposition leaders, human rights activists and Shiite professionals such as doctors and lawyers have been detained since emergency rule was imposed.
Several members of the country’s national soccer team were also detained and another 150 athletes, coaches and referees were suspended since April 5 for their alleged involvement in street protests.