The UN Under-secretary general for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Stephen O’Brien said that 974,080 people were currently living under siege in Syria. That number stood at just under 487,000 six months ago. He described the humanitarian conditions in eastern Aleppo as “terrifying and now barely survivable by human beings.”
In his monthly briefing to the UN Security Council, O’Brien on Monday said: “There is nothing subtle or complicated about the practice of besiegement. Civilians are being isolated, starved, bombed and denied medical attention and humanitarian assistance in order to force them to submit or flee.”
O’Brien noted that the “deliberate tactic of cruelty” was mostly employed by Bashar Al-Assad’s forces…Those maintaining the sieges know by now that this Council is apparently unable or unwilling to enforce its will or agree now on steps to stop them.”
Newly besieged areas include the rebel-held Damascus suburbs of Jobar, Hajar al-Aswad and Khan Alshih, as well as several other areas in the eastern Ghouta outside the capital.
O’Brien set out seven basic demands to the UN Security Council, reiterating what the Council demanded of all parties to the conflict three years ago in resolution 2139.
These demands were “to immediately put an end to all forms of violence; cease all attacks against civilians as well as the indiscriminate employment of weapons in populated areas; lift sieges of populated areas; promptly allow rapid, safe and unhindered humanitarian access for UN humanitarian agencies and their implementing partners, including across conflict lines; respect the principle of medical neutrality, and facilitate free passage to all areas for medical personnel, equipment, transport and supplies, including surgical items; protect civilians; and desist from attacks directed against civilian objects; the immediate end of the practices of arbitrary detention and torture of civilians.”
The UN aid chief said that security and other arrangements have been finalized to ensure the resumption of sustained aid operations to the many tens of thousands of women, men and children amassed at the Syrian-Jordanian border who are in need of urgent lifesaving assistance. He pointed out that operations are set to commence today, Tuesday.
Meanwhile, the Council of Free Aleppo Governorate called upon the United Nations and human rights organizations to assume their responsibilities towards the protection of civilians in Aleppo from the fierce bombing campaign by the Assad regime and Russia forces.
In a statement issued on Monday, the council appealed to the international community to put an end to the ferocious bombardment on the city and protect civilians through opening safe corridors under the auspices of the United Nations as well as the introduction of lifesaving aid, most importantly medical, food and fuel supplies to the beleaguered city.
Regime forces backed by Iranian-backed foreign militias have laid siege on the eastern parts of Aleppo for nearly three months. Eastern Aleppo has been subjected to intense aerial and artillery bombardment that target mainly residential areas and civilian infrastructure using internationally banned weapons such as white phosphorus, chlorine gas, and cluster bombs. All hospitals and a number of civil defense centers and schools were put out of service after being hit by airstrikes. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Office)