The United Nations called on Thursday (July 21) for Syria’s warring sides to observe 48-hour local truces to let aid reach eastern Aleppo and other besieged zones where civilians may be starving.
Jan Egeland, humanitarian advisor to U.N. Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura, said an escalation in fighting was stopping aid from getting through in many areas.
“A humanitarian truce could work in following manner: we get 72 hours notice to go and we get a pause in the fighting for 48 hours. That is what we need. That is what it takes to have a lifeline to places where people are at the brink of starvation.
“Eastern Aleppo has become such a place,” he told reporters in Geneva, after chairing a weekly humanitarian taskforce meeting attended by diplomats from Russia, the United States, Iran, Saudi Arabia and other countries with influence in Syria.
Egeland said Turkey’s coup attempt last weekend had not had any noticeable effect on aid supplies going into Syria.
Around 200,000-300,000 people in rebel-held eastern Aleppo have been cut off since fighting cut the last supply route, the Castello Road, on July 7.
“We need this lifeline to be re-established,” Egeland said, adding that there were “a few weeks of supplies, not even a month” in the besieged zone.
Several other besieged areas were also in dire need, including Daraya and Madaya, where starvation was reported at the start of 2016, Egeland said.
The 40,000 civilians trapped in Madaya, part of a four-town ceasefire deal that has collapsed, have had no aid since April 30 and supplies have now run out.
“A mother in Madaya has no food for the children. I think that’s the best way of saying it,” Egeland said.
Syria enjoyed two months of relative peace after a nationwide “cessation of hostilities” began in late February. But it has largely broken down and diplomatic efforts to restore peace have so far failed.
If a nationwide cessation of hostilities could not be achieved now, local truces were needed to enable aid access, Egeland said.
There were “intense diplomatic activities on many levels”, and de Mistura was holding talks in Ankara, he said, without giving details.