Millions of Syrians in ‘free fall’ as raging battles across country hinder aid access: UN



    Millions of Syrians in ‘free fall’ as raging battles across country hinder aid access: UN

    Aug.12, Geneva: The tragedy unfolding in what has sadly become “the battle for Aleppo,” where attacks and counter-attacks over the past days have only compounded the suffering on two million civilians already struggling to cope with power outages and water shortages, spotlights again that there is “no military solution [there] or anywhere else in Syria,” the United Nations envoy on the crisis said.

    “Civilians on both sides of the conflict – on both sides of Aleppo – are in danger of being surrounded and affected by shortages and bombings,” UN Special Envoy for Syria told reporters in Geneva, where he stressed that as the fighting in Aleppo has escalated, the people should not be forgotten and neither should the ongoing United Nations appeal for weekly 48 hour ceasefires.

    As for the Russian proposal of three hour pauses in the hostilities, he said that amount of time is insufficient. “We need 48 hours in order to make convoys […] effective,” he said, adding that Russia had indicated its willingness to discuss as soon as possible, with the UN, “how to improve what has been, in my opinion, an initial idea.”

    Mr. de Mistura also said that senior military officials from Russia and the United States are still working on restoring an overall ceasefire “focusing on the Castello road developments, no doubt, and on general new approaches for a reduction in violence,” he said referring to the main supply route into the area.

    Also briefing the press, Mr. de Mistura’s Special Advisor, Jan Egeland said: “The stakes cannot be higher in the coming days, because, really, millions of Syrian civilians are now in a seeming free fall, from Aleppo to Eastern Ghouta, from Fua and Kefraya to Zabadani and Madaya, and to the whole people of Darayya, who are still waiting the second half of the first convoy that they promised them.”

    Mr. Egeland said the situation is “heart wrenching” for thousands of humanitarian workers in and around Syria to not be allowed by the fighting to come to the rescue as a lifeline to these millions of people. “There are enormous resources ready and humanitarian workers willing to take the risk to go into these zones, if they get the permission, and they are not at the moment” he stated.

    Nowhere is the battle raging so brutally for the civilian population as in Aleppo, he continued, noting that currently, the situations in eastern and western Aleppo for civilians have now been very much interlinked.

    “They rely on the same electrical power plants that serve the same water pumping stations and they are now without water and without electricity regularly. That is of course, also, an opening to some extent, because now they also rely to a large extent on the same access road, Castello road, and it's the road where we would like to serve both eastern Aleppo and western Aleppo,” Mr. Egeland noted.

    Today in the meeting, the Russian delegation confirmed their willingness to sit down with us today and tomorrow to try to agree on a workable humanitarian pause for us to go the Aleppo road and to help the people in the east and in the west.

    "Three hours is indeed not enough, it’s really nothing," he said, referring to today's 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.

    The Oslo Times International News Network