Islamic Relief – one of the only NGOs still operating inside the beleaguered Syrian city of Aleppo – has called for an immediate truce in the area. The charity fears that the 300,000 residents left in the city could be at risk of death – by starvation or military action.
Local estimates suggest that over half the civilians left in Aleppo are women – and there may be as many as 21,000 children under two. Those remaining include disabled people and the very poorest of the city’s residents, who have not been able to gather money or fuel to leave.
Food supplies are critically low – with UN estimates that current food supplies will last the population less than a fortnight. Fuel supplies are low, and there are thought to be only two field hospitals left in the city – with very limited medical supplies.
There have been reports that “humanitarian corridors” have been opened to allow aid into the city and to permit those who are able to leave to do so. However, the news is very confused, with state media claiming that many hundreds of citizens have left and opposition forces stating that not more than 150 citizens have got through. Opposition forces also report that no aid has got into the city through the corridors.
Some forces believe that the Government opened up the exit corridors to reduce the number of residents remaining in Aleppo because they are preparing an all-out onslaught to take back the city and want to minimise casualties. The UN has offered to oversee exit corridors which would allow citizens to leave Aleppo, but this offer has not yet been welcomed or acted on by the Syrian Government.
Imran Madden, Director of Islamic Relief UK, said, “This is one of the greatest humanitarian tragedies of our time. The reality is that if an immediate truce is not called, we could witness the slow death of over 300,000 women, children and men on our watch. Islamic Relief is on the ground right now as this catastrophe is unfolding. As a result, we are seeing first-hand the devastating impact of these humanitarian corridors being closed. We need those who are in a position of influence to take immediate action to open the corridors and let in vital aid and medical supplies as well as guaranteeing the safety of those who choose to stay”.
This should be a simple enough request – but as they fight for the spoils in Syria, it seems the superpowers are not listening to reason.
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