A senior United Nations humanitarian official estimated that some 1.5 million people are currently living in Aleppo city, including 400,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs). Some four million people lived in the city before 2011. The official described the destruction in the city as beyond imagination.
“The destruction is enormous,” said Sajjad Malik, representative in Syria for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), and acting humanitarian coordinator in Aleppo. “The reconstruction will take a very long time.”
Phoning into the regular news briefing at UN Headquarters from the war-ravaged city on Wednesday, Malik told reporters that the immediate needs in the city are enormous.
Malik said that 106 UN staff members are going in and out of the eastern part of the city on a daily basis. Spotlighting the extent of some of the UN humanitarian activities on the ground, he said that to date, some 1.1 million people have access to safe drinking water. Seven mobile clinics are providing medical support, while 10,000 children have been vaccinated against polio. More than 1,000 wounded children have been sent to hospitals, and 20,000 people are receiving hot meals each day.
Some 2,200 families have returned to their homes in eastern Aleppo in the last two days, Malik added.
People returning face appalling conditions.”It is extremely, bitterly cold here,” said Malik. “The houses people are going back to have no windows or doors, no cooking facilities.”
The Assad regime and Russia’s bombing campaign has destroyed hospitals, schools, roads and houses, and damaged the two main water pumping stations. The UN official said the level of destruction surpassed anything he had seen in conflict zones like Afghanistan and Somalia.
“Nothing would have prepared us to see the scale of destruction there, it’s beyond imagination,” he said.
Malik has spoken with relatives still ”looking for their male family members” who were detained as they fled the besieged eastern part of the city.
The United Nations continues to be concerned with the 116,000 people that have been registered as displaced from formerly non-regime controlled neighborhoods of eastern Aleppo, UN Spokesperson Stephane Dujarric said on Tuesday.
“The scale of destruction in Aleppo is massive and needs enormous help, including such things as health care, water and sanitation, education systems, housing and shelter, electricity and livelihoods,” Dujarric said at a press briefing.
“We urge donors to provide immediate and long-term support to the more than 100,000 highly vulnerable people in Aleppo, so they can continue to receive life-saving assistance and help,” Dujarric added. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Office + Agencies)