UN officials 'hopeful' aid convoys will soon enter Eastern Ghouta

UN officials 'hopeful' aid convoys will soon enter Eastern Ghouta
Damascus has appeared to provide authorisation for aid convoys to enter Eastern Ghouta.
2 min read
01 March, 2018
Aid agencies are waiting to enter Eastern Ghouta [Getty]
The UN said on Thursday it hopes aid convoys would be able to enter Eastern Ghouta within days, after Damascus appeared to provide authorisation.

"We may now be able to go to Eastern Ghouta in the next few days," said Jan Egeland, head of the UN's humanitarian taskforce for Syria.

"We may have the first facilitation letter, permit from the government, to go to [the main Eastern Ghouta town of] Douma in a very long time."

The UN had sharply criticised Russia's plan to unilaterally impose a daily five-hour "truce" to allow Eastern Ghouta residents to evacuate the city and for humanitarian aid to enter.

"I know of no humanitarian actor… who thinks that five hours is enough for us to be able to deliver relief into Eastern Ghouta and to organise orderly medical evacuations out," said Egeland, earlier in the day, according to AP.

Moscow has also accused rebels of shelling its unilaterally imposed humanitarian corridor, a charge which opposition fighters and locals strongly deny.

No residents had left Eastern Ghouta, nor any humanitarian aid entered the area, despite news of the truce.

Residents say they do not trust the Russian truce plan.

For his part, UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura said the UN would "not give up in asking for the full implementation of the resolution 2401".

The UN Security Council passed a 30-day ceasefire in Syria on Saturday - but violence has since continued.

"We will continue asking until we are red in the face, blue in the face, for both sides… to stop shelling each others' areas, and for convoys to be allowed [in]".

Rebels in Eastern Ghouta have been shooting mortars into nearby Damascus, with authorities there saying several have been killed.

In Eastern Ghouta, more than 600 have died and thousands injured since the Syrian regime recommenced its bombardment on 18 January.

Residents expect Eastern Ghouta to follow a similar pattern as Eastern Aleppo - which in 2016 fell under regime control after airstrikes gave way to a ground assault.

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