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Syria: first 10 days of May 'disappointing' for humanitarian work - UN advisor

12 May 2016 – The first 10 days of May have been "disappointing" for aid work in Syria as the breakdown of a truce made aid deliveries dangerous and difficult to plan, the United Nations-appointed humanitarian adviser said today.

"The breakdown of the cessation of hostilities was a catastrophe for humanitarian work," Jan Egeland, Special Advisor to the UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura, told reporters in Geneva, where the intra-Syrian talks, comprising political and humanitarian task forces, had been under way.

Mr. Egeland said that March had been a good month that had seen "very few people displaced and very few relief workers attacked and bombed." April, however, had been "terrible," with colleagues killed in many places and medical workers hardest-hit. Of late, the situation has varied from place to place, changing constantly. "It is very, very difficult for us to plan anything for the coming days," he said.

Humanitarian convoys have permissions to reach only less than half of the 905,000 people they hoped to serve this month. There has not been a greenlight to go to all of the locations in Aleppo, where people are bleeding and are in great need.

The good news is that today, the first humanitarian assessment mission on its way to Darayya, which is probably the place in Syria where the greatest unmet needs exist, he said.

Similar assessment missions or assistance missions are planned in the coming days to all of the remaining besieged areas yet to be reached, including Duma, Erbin, Zamalka and Zabadin, "In the next 10-day period, all of these could be covered," he said.

He said that these assessment missions are "the first step, but there is no guarantee" that aid delivery will commence.

Mine action assessment has been undertaken for the first time within Syria although mine clearance has not been allowed, he said, adding that he believes that it would be allowed soon.

He said he was heartened by the Russian-United States statement that says that access will be granted to all of the besieged areas and all of the medical supplies that had been taken off will be allowed.

Speaking ahead of his advisor, Mr. de Mistura explained that the cessation of hostilities will be among the main subjects of the next International Syria Support Group (ISSG) meeting to be held in Vienna. The ISSG, which along with Russia and the US, comprises the UN, the Arab League, the European Union and 16 countries, has been seeking a path forward to end the Syrian crisis for the past several months.



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