For Immediate Release
December 14, 2016
Washington, DC – Earlier this morning, life-saving evacuations have been suspended for civilians, critically wounded, and chronically ill in besieged eastern Aleppo City.
For more than ten days, UN OCHA and local NGOs have been working to evacuate civilians from eastern Aleppo, prioritizing the wounded and humanitarian staff. These attempts have been blocked by the Syrian government, Russia, and Iran. An agreement was reached last night to evacuate the critically wounded to Idlib, the western Aleppo countryside, and Turkey. However, this morning, the first bus of wounded civilians was sent back to the city, followed shortly by a renewed campaign of aerial bombardment, including by cluster munitions.
“We are dying slowly.” – Aleppo resident.
At least 50,000 people remain trapped in the last four besieged neighborhoods in east Aleppo City. Yesterday, the UN human rights office confirmed reports of massacres and atrocities committed by pro-Syrian government forces in the besieged areas. There have been allegations of disappearances, forced conscription of males aged 18-40, and civilians being held at checkpoints. There are no NGOs or UN monitors in place to oversee the evacuations. SAMS expresses its deep concern for the newly displaced civilians, including the 86,000 IDPs, who had previously fled to eastern Aleppo City.
The international community has stood by while the people of Aleppo have endured six years of unimaginable violence, including indiscriminate and targeted attacks from cluster munitions, chemical weapons, and barrel bombs. One resident remaining in the besieged area said, “The medical situation is so bad. There are no ambulances. They are killing people in the streets. Please send our screams to the world.”
The systemic violation of international humanitarian law by the Syrian government and its allies cannot be allowed to continue. Recent reports indicate that Russia has been unable to pressure the Syrian government to accept the evacuations and that Iran assisted in suspending the evacuation plan this morning.
The international community must use any means necessary to protect the remaining civilians in Aleppo. SAMS calls for the UN to send monitors to protect those being displaced from Aleppo. SAMS urges our European and American partners to exert pressure on the negotiating parties to enforce the observance of the ceasefire. Perpetrators of war crimes in Aleppo and Syria must be held accountable.
For media requests, please contact SAMS’s Media and Communications Manager, Lobna Hassairi at [email protected].