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Mon February 27, 2012
Red Cross Reaches Hama, Homs, Delivers Food, Medical Aid
A spokesman for the International Committee of the Red Cross tells NPR's Newscast Unit that ambulances from the Syrian Arab Red Crescent were able to evacuate three people from the Baba Amr neighborhood of Homs, which have been heavily shelled in recent days.
One of the people evacuated was "a pregnant woman in urgent need of care," said Simon Schorno, who added the ambulances "also brought in emergency medical supplies to be distributed immediately."
Schorno said that the Red Cross was still working on a formal agreement with the Syrian government and the opposition. He said the Red Cross needs two hours a day to conduct evacuations and deliver aid.
"Until we get this agreement, we will keep trying to go in on an ad hoc basis," said Schorno.
Schorno added that the Red Cross has been unable to rescue two Western journalists who are wounded and have yet to retrieve the bodies of journalist Marie Colvin and photographer Remi Ochlik, who were killed during the shelling in the city of Homs.
The AP reported earlier today that the Red Cross had reached the city Hama for the first time in more than a month, today. A joint team of the ICRC and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent "brought an emergency delivery of food and other items for 12,000 people."
Meanwhile on the diplomatic front, the European Union announced new sanctions on the Syrian regime.
CNN reports that today at least 138 people were killed and the government said that voters had approved a new constitution by a wide margin.
"Syria announced the referendum amid intense international cries to stop the bloodshed and open its regime to change. But analysts and protesters widely describe the effort as a farce, a superficial attempt to pacify al-Assad's critics.
"'We dismiss it as absolutely cynical. ... Essentially, what he's done here is put a piece of paper that he controls to a vote that he controls so that he can try and maintain control,' U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said of the referendum and al-Assad.
"She cited the ongoing violence in cities like Homs and Hama and asked: 'How could you possibly have any kind of a democratic process in conditions like that?'"