Aleppo Is Now a Synonym for Hell: Ban Ki-moon

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (left) addresses a press conference, his last at United Nations headquarters, as his term of office draws to a close at the end of the year. At his side is his Spokesperson, Stéphane Dujarric. UN Photo / Eskinder Debebe
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (left) addresses a press conference, his last at United Nations headquarters, as his term of office draws to a close at the end of the year. At his side is his Spokesperson, Stéphane Dujarric. UN Photo / Eskinder Debebe

In his last press conference as United Nations Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon observed that “the carnage in Syria remains a gaping hole in the global conscience.”

“Aleppo is now a synonym for hell,” Mr. Ban said. “We have collectively failed the people of Syria. Peace will only prevail when it is accompanied by compassion, justice and accountability for the abominable crimes we have seen.”

Mr. Ban will complete his 10-year service as the world’s top diplomat on 31 December, passing the baton to his successor António Guterres, who was sworn in this past Monday.

Earlier, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad al Hussein said in Geneva that he is appalled that the deal enabling the evacuation of many thousands of civilians, including the wounded and the sick, from the remaining opposition-held area of eastern Aleppo appears to have collapsed.

[ Zeid Urges Halt to Bombardment of Eastern Aleppo ]

Meanwhile, the World Health Organization is calling for medical evacuation of the sick and injured from east Aleppo to be resumed as quickly as possible.

Almost 200 patients were safely transferred to hospitals in western rural Aleppo, Idlib and Turkey before all evacuations were aborted last week, leaving many more in need of medical care stranded.

“The medical evacuation has only been underway for 24 hours, and there are still large numbers of women, infants and children under five amongst those who need medical care,” says WHO Syria Representative, Elizabeth Hoff in Aleppo. “They had to leave the collection area and return to their houses. We hope that the evacuation will resume promptly.”

WHO has been supporting the medical evacuation, together with ICRC and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent. The Organization’s staff was told that the operation has been aborted and they should leave the area.

The medical evacuation is being managed with the WHO field presence in Gaziantep, Turkey, from which 113 ambulances as well as 17 mobile teams have been deployed and coordinated.

Eight hospitals in western rural Aleppo, Idlib, as well as hospitals in Turkey, are treating the medical evacuees, the majority of whom are suffering from trauma injuries.

Medical supplies sufficient for more than 279 000 treatments and 6000 surgeries have been provided by WHO to ensure evacuees can receive the level of care they need.

WHO, together with the rest of the UN and its partners are calling on all parties to the conflict to resume the evacuation of the injured and sick patients who are trapped in eastern Aleppo and to ensure the safety of all health workers.

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Rakesh Raman