Syria: 700,000 People Trapped in 15 Besieged Areas

Children and their parents gather around a fire to keep warm in the yard of a large warehouse in Jibreen, now used as a shelter for thousands of families who fled violence in eastern Aleppo. Photo: UNICEF / UN043357 / Al-Issa
Children and their parents gather around a fire to keep warm in the yard of a large warehouse in Jibreen, now used as a shelter for thousands of families who fled violence in eastern Aleppo. Photo: UNICEF / UN043357 / Al-Issa

While efforts to fully implement a ceasefire in Syria continue, top United Nations (UN) officials appealed Monday for safe access to reach the children and families who are still cut off from humanitarian aid across the country.

These official are WFP Executive Director Ertharin Cousin, UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Stephen O’Brien, WHO Director-General Dr. Margaret Chan, and UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi.

In Syria today, there are 15 besieged areas where up to 700,000 people, including an estimated 300,000 children, still remain trapped.

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Nearly five million people, including more than two million children, live in areas that are extremely difficult to reach with humanitarian assistance due to fighting, insecurity, and restricted access.

All over Syria, people continue to suffer because they lack the most basic elements to sustain their lives – and because of the continued risk of violence.

Children are at heightened risk of malnutrition, dehydration, diarrhoea, infectious diseases, and injury. Many need support after being exposed to traumatic events, violence and other violations.

The horrors of the siege of the eastern districts of Aleppo have disappeared from the public consciousness – but we must not let the needs, the lives and the futures of Syria’s people fade from the world’s conscience, the UN officials suggested. “We must not let 2017 repeat the tragedies of 2016 for Syria.”

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Rakesh Raman