Aleppo: UN awaits Syrian regime's blessing to deliver aid

Aleppo: UN awaits Syrian regime's blessing to deliver aid
Syrian rebels have agreed to humanitarian aid reaching thousands of starving civilians in East Aleppo but Assad and Russia are yet to give the green light.
2 min read
24 November, 2016
The UN is waiting for the Syrian regime's go-ahead to deliver aid to Aleppo [Getty]

Syrian rebels have agreed to a UN plan for desperately needed food and medicine to be delivered to besieged Aleppo, where 250,000 people are starving.

However Russia and the Syrian government are yet give the go-ahead, humanitarian adviser Jan Egeland said on Thursday, despite food rations running out and regime planes bombing the last hospital in the east of the city out of service.

Hundreds of trucks are ready in Turkey and government-controlled west Aleppo to bring food and medicines to the eastern sector, but the UN needs 72 hours once it has all approvals to prepare a "big, complex and dangerous operation", Egeland said.

"We do now have written approval in principle by the armed opposition groups of east Aleppo," he said, specifying that he was referring to rebels with whom the UN is in contact - and do not include former al-Nusra Front militants.

"We have verbal support also from the Russian Federation on our four-point plan. We need written support and we need unconditional support also from Russia and we are waiting still for the answer from the government of Syria."

Egeland hoped the plan, which includes rotation of the 30 doctors still in eastern Aleppo, can be carried out "in the next few days".

The siege and intense bombardment of east Aleppo aggravated by renewed air strikes on hospitals in the past week have left residents even shorter of medicines, food and fuel.

Major and regional powers discussed the need to protect medical facilities, Egeland said.

"We want to try to launch a system that could get out of this horrific situation that medical facilities, clinics, hospitals are attacked again and again and again," he said.

Medical facilities should be clearly marked, used only for civilian purposes, and their locations sent "to all of the military actors that are using air warfare to avoid any more attacks", he said.

Hundreds of wounded await evacuation for treatment under the plan, Egeland said.

Asked about any 'Plan B', he replied: "In many ways Plan B is that people starve. And can we allow that to happen? No, we cannot allow that to happen."

The Syrian regime earlier this week refused a UN-proposed truce, with Damascus demanding rebel fighters first leave the besieged east of the city before it accepts a ceasefire.