A number of high profile international humanitarian organisations have appealed to warring parties in Syria to unconditionally let humanitarian assistance reach almost three quarters of a million people still under siege across the country, a joint statement by an UN-linked relief website revealed on Monday.
The statement was signed by the World Food Programme (WFP), UNICEF, the office of the UN’s Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief, the World Health Organisation and the UNHCR.
“While efforts to fully implement a ceasefire in Syria continue, we again appeal for immediate, unconditional and safe access to reach the children and families who are still cut off from humanitarian aid across the country,” the statement said.
It continued: “In Syria today, there are 15 besieged areas where up to 700,000 people, including an estimated 300,000 children, still remain trapped. Nearly five million people, including more than two million children, live in areas that are extremely difficult to reach with humanitarian assistance due to fighting, insecurity and restricted access.”
The statement added: “All over Syria, people continue to suffer because they lack the most basic elements to sustain their lives – and because of the continued risk of violence.”
Meanwhile, the signatories to the statement said: “We – indeed, the world – must not stand silent while parties to the conflict continue to use denial of food, water, medical supplies and other forms of aid as weapons of war.”
Specifically highlighting the plight of children, the statement read: “Children are at heightened risk of malnutrition, dehydration, diarrhoea, infectious diseases, and injury. Many need support after being exposed to traumatic events, violence and other violations. Tragically, far too many children have known little but conflict and loss in their young lives.”
Regarding Aleppo, the statement said: “The horrors of the siege of the eastern districts of Aleppo have disappeared from the public consciousness – but we must not let the needs, the lives and the futures of Syria’s people fade from the world’s conscience.”
The statement was concluded: “We must not let 2017 repeat the tragedies of 2016 for Syria.”