Stressing that “time is of the essence” amid the increasingly dire situation in Aleppo, the United Nations Special Envoy for Syria today called for all sides in the conflict to agree by Sunday on allowing aid delivery and repairs for the war-ravaged city's power and water systems to provide some relief for the nearly two million people trapped there.
“The UN is ready to move. People are suffering and need assistance. Time is of the essence. All must put the civilian population of Aleppo first and exert their influence now,” underscored Staffan de Mistura in a statement issued earlier today by his Office, which reiterated the UN's longstanding call for 48-hour weekly humanitarian pause in Aleppo.
The international community has been focused on the situation in and around Aleppo, Syria's second city, for weeks, and calls for a truce from across the UN system and the wider humanitarian community have grown stronger as the electrical infrastructure has suffered serious damage and fresh water supplies in the area have begun to run dry up.
The respective taskforces on humanitarian aid delivery and a wider ceasefire, created by the International Syria Support Group (ISSG), have been meeting separately since early this year on a way forward in the crisis. Russia and the United States are the co-chairs of the taskforces and ISSG, which comprises the UN, the Arab League, the European Union and 16 other countries.
Two days ago, Mr. de Mistura welcomed the response of the Russia to support the proposal for a humanitarian pause in the area. Since then, the UN developed an Aleppo emergency response plan and conveyed clear UN humanitarian requirements to all concerned and urged their engagement and support.
According to the Special Envoy's Office, the UN has pre-positioned aid ready to be delivered to Aleppo during a 48 hour humanitarian pause, in order to reach 80,000 people in eastern Aleppo and also to reach beneficiaries in western Aleppo. The UN would also try to repair the electrical system servicing 1.8 million people. This pilot initiative is intended to set the stage for weekly pauses for humanitarian relief.
The statement also stressed that there should be no escalation in areas adjacent or around the area of the pause.
Mr. de Mistura also noted that for logistical and operational reasons convoys must go via the Castello Road – the safest and most direct route – during the initial pause, although he “is aware of concerns that have been expressed by the opposition.” He said Russia has confirmed that it is ready to ensure compliance with UN humanitarian response plan and has engaged the Syrian Government on this issue.
Meanwhile, efforts are continuing, particularly by the US and other members of the Humanitarian Task Force, to ensure that all stakeholders are ready to commit to enable the UN to execute the humanitarian response plan, the statement added.
“The Special Envoy calls for all concerned to exert every effort so that, by this Sunday, 28 August 2016, we know where we stand,” the statement said, calling on all to exert their influence to help ease the suffering of all the people of Aleppo.