GENEVA – A total of 10 million people still live in areas held by the radical group of Islamic State (ISIS) across Syria and Iraq, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) revealed on Sunday.
Director-General of the ICRC, Yves Daccord, said they have been trying to establish relations and direct communication with ISIS’s leadership in a bid to deliver humanitarian aid to civilians stranded in the war-torn ISIS-held areas in the region.
“Yes, we are of course looking at building a relationship” with ISIS, Daccord told AFP on Sunday. “We have a very clear humanitarian vision. First, what we see is 10 million people. Ten million people under the control of the Islamic State group.”
“We are interested in these 10 million people. What happens to them? What are their problems? This is what will guide us,” he stressed.
Daccord’s remarks come ahead of an ICRC conference in Geneva, where more than 2000 employees of the agency gather for talks on the recent developments in areas where the agency operates.
According to the Director-General of the ICRC, in order to help civilians stranded in war-torn zones, communicating with armed groups becomes an obligation and necessity.
“Most of the international organizations will have to possibly rethink about how they operate in these areas, otherwise they won’t be in a position to work,” Daccord said.
“The ultimate goal is to work in close proximity with those who need help, and to do that, you have to talk to everybody,” he added.
“You cannot just come from Geneva and expect armed groups to let you operate. You don’t build acceptance from Boko Haram or any armed group in Syria in one day. It takes a lot of time and you have to have the right people.”
He pointed out that an actor like the ICRC has to be “absolutely and deeply humanitarian”.
“No social agenda, no change agenda…You might have an opinion, but that’s not the problem,” Daccord said.
By: Lorin Silo
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