The European Union proposed a new humanitarian plan in coordination with the United Nations for the besieged half of the Syrian city of Aleppo on Sunday, but said it required cooperation from all parties to the conflict.
Assad regime, backed by Russia, said on September 22 it was starting a new wide offensive to recapture the rebel-held parts of Aleppo after a week-long ceasefire was declared officially over on 19 September. the offensive includes a ground assault, artillery bombardment, and intensive airstrikes.
Since 19 September, more than 500 civilians have been killed and more than 1700 injured in rebel-held areas of Aleppo province, including the besieged eastern part of the city, Civil defense workers said.
In a statement, the EU said it was unlocking 25 million euros ($28 million) of funding to help its humanitarian partners in Syria cover “urgent medical, water and sanitation, and food assistance in Aleppo and in other priority areas”.
The plan aims to deliver medical, water and food aid from EU stocks in government-held western Aleppo to up to 130,000 people in insurgent-controlled eastern Aleppo, and to evacuate urgent medical cases from the area.
The bloc will work with the UN to deliver “basic life-saving assistance to civilians in (rebel-held) East Aleppo,” EU foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini and humanitarian commissioner Christos Stylianides said in the statement.
The UN has said that water and food supplies in eastern Aleppo are running low, while efforts to bring in aid convoys through the Turkish border have been stalled by the fighting.
“The EU calls on all parties to urgently provide the necessary authorizations for aid delivery and for medical evacuations to proceed. It intends to work intensively in the next hours and days with the parties concerned to make this happen,” said a statement from EU foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini and EU Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management Christos Stylianides.
The EU said the operation must be neutral and carried out “under the sole responsibility of humanitarian organizations”.
The EU and UN are planning to coordinate medical evacuations for those in urgent need, “with a focus on women, children and the elderly”, the statement said.
A significant difficulty in previous attempts to deliver United Nations aid to east Aleppo and other areas was trying to ensure that Syrian government forces did not interfere.
Civilians in the rebel-held part of the Syrian city of Aleppo are enduring a “living hell”, the UN humanitarian chief has said,
The U.N. has previously criticized the Syrian government for restricting the content of aid deliveries, blocking access to areas of high need and removing items from some consignments.
In September an aid convoy west of Aleppo was hit and destroyed, killing around 20 people.
The Assad regime forces, backed by Russian air power, Iranian ground forces and Shi’ite militia fighters from Iran, Iraq, and Lebanon, has been tightening its grip on rebel-held districts of Aleppo this year, and this summer achieved a long-held goal of fully encircling the area.
Recovering full control of the rebels’ last significant urban area would be the most important victory of the war so far for Assad, strengthening his control over Syria’s most populous and strategically important regions.
The Syrian crisis began as a peaceful demonstration against the injustice in Syria. Assad regime used to fire power and violence against the civilians and led to armed resistance. 450.000 Syrians lost their lives in the past five years according to UN estimates, and more than 12 million have lost their homes.