UN warns aid plan for Syria in danger due to attacks

Alaturka Amerika ABD Haberleri

By Fatih Erel

GENEVA (AA) – The UN on Thursday warned that if violations of cessation of hostilities in Syria continued, the UN would not be able to undertake its plan to deliver aid to 35 besieged and hard-to-reach areas in the country during the month of May.

Speaking after an International Syria Support Group (ISSG) meeting in Geneva, the head of the UN’s humanitarian efforts in Syria, Jan Egeland, told reporters: “l could not in any way express how high the stakes are in the next hours and days.”

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“So many humanitarian health workers and relief workers are being bombed, killed at the moment,” he added.

Noting that a UN aid convoy was hit in the area of Homs areas, Egeland said: “If this continues, we will not be able to undertake an ambitious May plan and we will not be able to reach the people of Syria.”

More than 50 percent of the people in the besieged areas have been reached since the beginning of the year, he noted.

“Still, medical supplies are taken off convoys,” said Egeland, who demanded that Syrian regime allow medical supplies into besieged areas in Syria.

Noting that the situation in Aleppo was “catastrophic”, Egeland said the lifeline of millions of people may have been broken.

Earlier Thursday, the UN envoy on Syria Staffan de Mistura on Thursday appealed for a U.S. and Russian initiative “at the highest level” to end the Syria crisis, saying the truce was “in great danger” and “could collapse any time”.

Speaking at the end of the latest round of Syria peace talks, de Mistura said: “We cannot ignore the fact that during the talks we have been having incidents […] At least a few hours ago, we had an airstrike on a hospital in Aleppo.”

“In the last 48 hours, there was an average of one Syrian killed every 25 minutes and one Syrian wounded every 13 minutes,” he noted.

“We will have at least one or two more rounds before July,” he added. “My plan is to relaunch the next round of talks during the course of May.”

De Mistura said the talks would only be meaningful if the cessation of hostilities was brought back to the level it was in February and March.

“My appeal is for a U.S. and Russian urgent initiative at the highest level,” he said.

De Mistura also called for a new International Syria Support Group (ISSG) meeting at the ministerial level from major and regional powers to sustain a troubled cessation of hostilities, the political transition process, and humanitarian efforts.

The ISSG, which includes the U.S., Russia, the EU, Turkey, Iran and Arab states, should urgently meet to ease the recent tensions on Syria, de Mistura said.

Last Friday, de Mistura estimated that the death toll of the five-year conflict in Syria was 400,000, although the UN has officially kept the figure at 250,000 for months due to difficulties in counting the dead.

The opposition delegation had unilaterally postponed indirect talks with regime delegates last week before the talks ended Wednesday. Key Syrian opposition delegation members left Geneva following the postponement.

The delegation head of the Bashar al-Assad regime said last week that the peace talks in Geneva would continue despite the Syrian opposition’s decision to pull out of the current round.

The latest round of talks to resolve the Syria conflict began last Wednesday. The regime delegation joined the talks Friday following parliamentary elections in Syria.

Syria has been locked in a vicious civil war since early 2011, when the regime cracked down on pro-democracy protests.

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