Africa 5.8.2016 09:19 am

Humanitarian situation in Aleppo ‘critical’

Photo: Supplied

Photo: Supplied

The UN had hoped to reach 1.2 million people in Syria’s besieged areas in July, but only about 40% of that number had been reached.

The UN’s Special Advisor to the UN Special Envoy to Syria says his organisation is desperate to rush critically needed aid to desperate civilians trapped in Allepo as fighting in and around the city intensifies.

A critical pause in the fighting in Syria was crucial to allow relief workers to enter the area and for civilians to leave voluntarily, Jan Egeland said in a Thursday press release in New York.

“We are ready to go in with supplies as soon as we have the pause, and we have a two-way corridor going in to the people in Eastern Aleppo, but also Western Aleppo, which has now become much more exposed to problems, and which has enormous access problems as well,” said Egeland.

The UN estimates that more than 250 000 people are trapped in the city. As for the wider humanitarian situation, Egeland said that while the UN had hoped to reach 1.2 million people in Syria’s besieged and hard-to-reach areas affected by conflict in July, only about 40% of that number had actually been reached.

“It is heartbreaking really, for humanitarian workers that are ready with supplies, with trucks and people who are willing to risk a lot, that we were prevented from reaching 60% of those we had hoped to,” said Egeland. “The main reason for this is the fighting. There is now cross-fire. There is fighting in too many places and that affects, more than anything else, the besieged areas.”

The press briefing took place after the latest meeting of the Humanitarian Taskforce of the International Syria Support Group (ISSG), which is co-chaired by Russia and the United States and comprises the UN, the Arab League, the European Union and 16 other countries that have been working on a way forward since late last year.

At the briefing Ramzy Ezzeldin Ramzy, UN Deputy Special Envoy for Syria, gave a general overview of the situation with a particular emphasis on the political process.

Noting that last week UN Special Envoy Staffan de Mistura had announced his intention to hold the intra-Syrian talks towards the end of August, he said the UN remains committed to that and “we will do everything possible to make sure that these talks are fruitful.”

Ramzy explained that for the talks to be fruitful, the cessation of hostilities had to stand and be reinforced, and in that regard, the US and Russia, as co-chairs, were in discussions on that very issue.

“Also, the humanitarian situation has to improve. Not much has been accomplished over the past month, largely due to the intensification of the military activities,” said Ramzy. “That is why we attach great importance to the discussions between the co-chairs on that issue.”

Asked by a reporter if “time was slipping away” from the UN to alleviate the suffering in Aleppo, Ramzy said he did not believe that was the case. There were intensive consultations going on between the co-chairs regarding the cessation of hostilities.

– African News Agency (ANA)

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