At Security Council, UN envoy appeals for Russia and US cooperation to 'pull Syria back from the brink'
25 September 2016 – Amid the unprecedented military assault on eastern Aleppo, where fireballs from incendiary bombs "light up the pitch darkness," the United Nations Special Envoy for Syria today strongly appealed to the Security Council – particularly permanent members Russia and the United States – to rescue a recently collapsed cessation of hostilities, end the bloodshed and speed aid into the iconic city where, overall, some two million people remain under a de facto siege.
"These are indeed chilling days for Syria and particularly, for the people of Aleppo, as last week was one of the worst in this six year of the conflict," Staffan de Mistura told an emergency meeting of the Security Council, echoing a statement issued by a UN spokesperson yesterday which said the Secretary-General is "appalled" by the escalating violence since the announcement two days ago by the Syrian Army of an offensive to capture eastern Aleppo.
Reporting that Aleppo is being reduced to rubble in the face of a "remarkable new intensity – unprecedented in scale and type of bombing," Mr. de Mistura said "this Council has the responsibility to relaunch the cessation of hostilities" and reiterated his appeal for a common course of action, led by Russia and the UN, in three areas: ensuring a ceasefire; establishing weekly 48 hour pauses in the fighting to allow in aid and repairs for Aleppo's damaged water and power facilities; and allow medical evacuations for urgent cases in and around the city.
The respective taskforces on humanitarian aid delivery and a wider ceasefire, created by the International Syria Support Group (ISSG), have been meeting separately since early this year on a way forward in the crisis. Russia and the United States are the co-chairs of the taskforces and ISSG, which comprises the UN, the Arab League, the European Union and 16 other countries.
"The one constant in this violently unpredictable conflict is that neither side will win, and that the Syrian people will lose, and they are losing their lives, day by day," he told the Council as the announcement of a cessation of hostilities in early September, the already dire humanitarian situation in Aleppo has deteriorated even further since the Government decided to unilaterally end the truce and begin airstrikes.
Mr. de Mistura painted a grave picture of the situation on the ground, saying that information received by Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) indicates dozens of airstrikes on Friday and Saturday have hit residential buildings across the de facto besieged eastern Aleppo, causing scores of reported civilian deaths and injuries, including those of many children.
"First responders appear overwhelmed and unable to respond at many of the sites. We have seen reports of three of the four centres operated by the 'White Helmets' in eastern Aleppo being hit," he said, adding that as the casualties mount, rescue workers are struggling to pull people from under the rubble.
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