UN stopped offering aid after 40% of east Aleppo liberated from militants – Russian MoD
The Russian Ministry of Defense says the UN stopped offering humanitarian aid deliveries to east Aleppo after more than 40 percent of the territory previously controlled by militants was recaptured by Syrian government forces.
The ministry added that it knows nothing about the UN humanitarian aid which 30,000 people have been allegedly receiving in Aleppo in the past few days according to Jan Egeland, humanitarian adviser to UN special envoy Staffan de Mistura, as reported by Reuters on Thursday.
Jan Egeland added that Syria and Russia have declined the UN’s request for a pause in the fighting to evacuate 400 sick and wounded in need of immediate treatment.
“We had hoped to get the message that the Russian Federation and the government of Syria will allow a pause in the fighting for us to access east Aleppo and evacuate people out. We didn't get it,” Egeland complained.
The Russian Defense Ministry added in a Friday statement that there is no UN humanitarian aid in the liberated neighborhoods of eastern Aleppo.
“Throughout the past month, Mr. Egeland insisted on sending UN humanitarian cargos into the eastern districts of Aleppo, controlled by terrorists,” Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Major General Igor Konashenkov said.
“However, after the government troops recaptured more than 40 percent of the eastern districts of the city, home to some 90 thousand people, all proposals for the delivery of [UN] humanitarian aid to Aleppo stopped.”
He noted that officers from the Russian Reconciliation Center have been delivering tons of food, medicine, and basic supplies to the city on a daily basis.
Earlier this week, the Syrian Army liberated Castello Road, viewed by many in the media as the “only way” to deliver humanitarian aid to Aleppo.
“As a result of effective actions by the Syrian government forces, Castello Road is now completely liberated. Thus, there are no impediments for humanitarian aid to be delivered to the people of Aleppo,” the head of operations for Russia’s General Staff, General Lieutenant Sergey Rudskoy, announced on Wednesday.
The route, dubbed “death road” by Western media, was previously cut off by militants. This situation was considered to be one of the main obstacles for UN aid to be brought into eastern Aleppo.
Now that it has been liberated, Russia's foreign minister, as well as the Russian envoy to the UN, said they see no other hindrance for the organization to proceed with its cause.
“We have informed the UN in New York and Geneva, that there are no longer any problems with the delivery of humanitarian supplies to Aleppo. An agreement has to be made with the Syrian government over the passage of these convoys, which are no longer under threat. The UN is currently pondering how to do this,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Friday.
“While they are deciding, Russia, as you know, has directed additional humanitarian assistance to east Aleppo as well as two mobile hospitals, doctors, medical equipment, medicine, and I think other countries who are concerned about the fate of the civilian population of the city should do the same.”
“Following recent developments, the Castello Road can be used for aid deliveries to eastern Aleppo without any limitations, or any further special talks or agreements. Whenever humanitarian workers are ready, they can use the road,” Russia’s envoy to the UN, Vitaly Churkin, told reporters on Wednesday.
The UN Secretary-General’s spokesperson, Stéphane Dujarric, said Thursday that the United Nations’ inter-agency mission arrived in Aleppo to assess the needs of recently displaced civilians and the possibility to conduct a mission to provide them with aid.
“Yesterday, in Syria, an inter-agency assessment mission reached locations in eastern Aleppo that were recently taken by the Syrian government. There were no civilians in these neighborhoods that used to be home to 30,000 people before fighting intensified last Saturday. Shelter, food, health and other life-saving assistance is being provided to those who have been displaced by the Syrian Arab Red Crescent and local partners, with UN support,” he said.