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On Friday, the Red Cross said thousands of people who have been displaced because of the Houla massacre need urgent help.

“People left everything behind as they ran for their lives,” said Marianne Gasser, the head of the ICRC delegation in Syria. “Most of the displaced are women and children.”

Many are taking shelter in schools and other public buildings in a nearby village.

“There was not enough food, water and medicine for everyone, which put a great deal of pressure on the small village,” she said.

Del Buey, the U.N. deputy spokesman, said 210 detainees in Damascus and 13 in Daraa were released Thursday in the presence of U.N. military observers. He stressed that U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Annan “have said repeatedly we must see the release of all detainees being arbitrarily held and that clearly many more must be released.”

Gen. Robert Mood, head of the U.N. mission, welcomed the release.

“This is a positive act in these challenging times,” Mood said in a statement.

AP writers John Heilprin and Frank Jordans in Geneva, Geir Moulson and David Rising in Berlin, Christopher Torchia in Istanbul, Edith M. Lederer at the United Nations in New York, Nataliya Vasilyeva and Mansur Mirovalev in Moscow, and Bassem Mroue and Zeina Karam in Beirut contributed to this report.