The UN said aid would not go through today as planned, even as trucks packed with food sat at the Turkish border ready to cross into Syria, and residents of the besieged city of Aleppo awaited the badly-needed supplies.
The UN had planned for 20 trucks with aid to enter East Aleppo today, the second day the U.S.-Russia brokered ceasefire largely held, but some armed groups are opposing that plan and the UN is still waiting for all security requirements to be in place, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
We have to get everyone in agreement to make this action happen, David Swanson, spokesman for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, told ABC News Some parties to the conflict are not fully on board.
Swanson did not want to name any specific parties, but said that he didn’t expect the aid to arrive today.
I don’t think that it’s going to happen today. The UN stands ready to bring the aid in as soon as possible. Time is of essence, he said. We have to ensure that all the drivers will be safe and that roads are not blocked. Once we have assurances in place for all parties to the conflict, the trucks are ready to move.
A Syrian boy carries a toy gun past a destroyed building in the northeastern Syrian city of Qamishli, Sept. 13, 2016.
The UN aid trucks that are parked at the Turkish border are carrying a month’s-worth of food for 40,000 people.
The cease-fire agreement brokered by the US and Russia went into effect at sundown Monday at the start of the Muslim Eid al-Adha holiday. Part of the agreement requires the ability to deliver aid to those in need, especially to rebel-held areas of Aleppo that have been encircled by government forces.
The U.S.-Russia pact requires seven consecutive days of humanitarian access before armed forces from the two sides can cooperate on going after terrorist targets in Syria.
“What’s the alternative?” John Kerry said of the agreement in an interview with NPR today. “The alternative is to allow us to go from 450,000 people who’ve been slaughtered to how many thousands more? That Aleppo gets completely overrun?”
Yesterday, the UN special envoy for Syria, said that the agreement had led to a significant drop in violence despite allegations of mortar shelling and airstrikes.
“Today, calm seems to have prevailed across Hama, Latakia, Aleppo City and rural Aleppo and Idlib – with only some allegations of sporadic and geographically isolated incidents,” the UN Special Envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, told a news briefing at the UN Office at Geneva yesterday.
In remarks in Washington, D.C., on Monday, Secretary of State John Kerry called the ability to deliver aid into Aleppo “literally the difference between life and death for tens of thousands of people.”
Syrian children slide down rubble of a destroyed building in the rebel-held city of Daraa, Syria, Sept. 12, 2016.
Up to 275,000 people in the eastern city of Aleppo have been almost entirely cut off from vital supplies, including food, water, medicine and electricity for over a month, the U.N. says.
More than 13 million people require humanitarian assistance of some kind across Syria.
Some 6 million people have been forced from their homes in the country — nearly 1 million of them in the past six months alone. During a span of just eight days ending earlier this month, more than 100,000 people were forced to flee intense violence in the central city of Hama. Many of these people need shelter, food and medical care.
Of particular concern are the nearly 600,000 Syrians the United Nations estimates are living in besieged areas, cut off from regular access to basic necessities and living with the daily threat of deadly violence.
According to the most recent estimates, 400,000 to 500,000 people have died so far in Syria’s five-year-old civil war.