Injured Children Remain Trapped in East Aleppo as Fears of Major Military Offensive Grows
Fairfield, Conn. (November 4, 2016) — Save the Children is warning that injured children in East Aleppo will remain trapped in the besieged city, without access to vital medical treatment and unable to leave, as today’s 'humanitarian corridors' fail to offer a viable solution for civilians in need.
According to Medecins Sans Frontieres, around 1,500 children are in need of medical treatment that is not available in the besieged area of the city.
The corridors proposed by the Russian and Syrian armed forces have not been negotiated in conjunction with the UN and International Committee of the Red Cross. As a result, it is highly unlikely that it will be possible to bring aid in, or for injured people to be evacuated before the window ends tonight.
Fears continue to grow among civilians and NGOs that the city will face an intensified bombardment, soon after the ceasefire ends.
Sonia Khush, Save the Children’s Syria Director, said: "It is desperately worrying that military resources are being replenished while it appears that no medical evacuations have taken place, nor has any aid reached the besieged city. Civilians have witnessed an escalation in violence following ceasefire periods previously, and there is an expectation that this will happen again."
Indiscriminate violence perpetrated by all sides in the battle for Aleppo has already taken an appalling toll on civilians, killing and maiming hundreds of children in East and West Aleppo since the ceasefire collapsed in September. Attacks continued throughout last night with opposition forces launching counter strikes attempting to break the siege.
Children who have suffered severe and complicated injuries, including burns, head trauma and extensive shrapnel wounds, often can’t be properly treated in East Aleppo, where hospitals have been bombed and the majority of medical staff have fled or been killed.
Medical supplies have been blocked from entering the city for months, leading to critical shortages of basic supplies. Doctors in the city say they only have enough anaesthetic to last two weeks – or approximately 800 operations. Aid agencies urgently need to both bring aid in and evacuate the most serious cases for treatment.
Sonia Khush added: "It appears that civilians in East Aleppo are being told to either surrender, or starve and be bombed. Humanitarian corridors should allow aid to come in and for those who wish or need to leave to exit – they are not supposed to be in place as a means to force people from their homes.
"It’s likely that the 'corridors' will close at 7:00 tonight with very few people actually leaving and without aid entering the city. Civilians are therefore effectively sitting targets, waiting for the next bombardment. Aleppo has taken an obscene battering over the last two months, with health facilities devastated. Civilians in Aleppo cannot withstand another sustained attack or cope with the increased casualties it would bring.
"The carelessness with which Syria’s warring parties and their backers have treated civilian lives is appalling. There can be no excuse for siege tactics, collective punishment and the consistent bombing of hospitals and schools in the 21st century."
Save the Children and other aid agencies have humanitarian relief positioned to enter East Aleppo but need a workable agreement between all parties to the conflict and a ceasefire of at least 72 hours to deliver it to the people who need it most.
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