For interviews and more information, contact Anna Nolan on anna@thesyriacampaign.org.

“We could be saved in 24 hours”: Humanitarians in besieged Aleppo call for implementation of leaked evacuation UN plan

Civilians, medical workers and rescue workers trapped in the remaining seven besieged neighbourhoods of Aleppo reacted today to the discussion of a UN plan that is said could evacuate all remaining 100,000 civilians in eastern Aleppo in just twenty-four hours. The civilians called on the international community to use their power to guarantee the plan and ensure safety for UN workers and civilians.

Signers to statement said they feared for their lives and worried about detention and enforced disappearance if they remained in Aleppo.

The urgent call to the international community for evacuation, signed by the Independent Doctors Association, Kesh Malek, the White Helmets and the Syrian American Medical Society in Aleppo reads:

“A message from besieged Eastern Aleppo — home to more than 100,000 civilians.

The bombs are falling as we write this. For years our humanitarian volunteers have worked to save the lives of our people in Aleppo: operating in underground hospitals, rescuing entire families buried under the rubble and risking our lives to document what the daily war crimes committed by Assad regime and its ally Russia.  We can do no more.

Now we are with 100,000 civilians trapped in an area of five square kilometres with non-stop bombs, shells and advancements on the ground. In one building more than 500 people are sheltering. People have been underground for days.

We are calling on you in the International Community to provide a safe passage out of Aleppo for the remaining 100,000 people. We know that the UN has a plan to get us out across the four kilometres of Western Aleppo to safety: with a few dozen buses and lorries we could all be evacuated in twenty four hours. However, we need you to guarantee the safety of their workers and our own.

If we stay we fear for our lives. The women may be taken to camps, the men disappeared and anyone who is known to have supported civilians will face detention or execution.  We’ve watched thousands of our boys and mens be detained. Countless White Helmets, doctors, nurses and humanitarians have been targeted and killed in the regime’s cruel assault on Aleppo. The regime has been trying to kill us for five years. Please don’t give them this chance.

We can not believe that the world’s most powerful countries cannot get 100,000 souls four kilometers to safety.”

A delegation of French parliamentarians currently present near the Syrian borders met with representatives of the United Nations regarding the plan. This is their statement:

“The UN’s humanitarian leaders indicate that an evacuation of the 100,000 civilians remaining in eastern Aleppo is possible within hours and that this operation would only require 24 hours to complete. The medical and transportation logistics are ready. The UN is only awaiting the go-ahead for the start of the operation.

The evacuation could be undertaken by foot as there is only 4km of land to cross in order to cross the regime-held territory. Vehicles and ambulances are equally ready to evacuate the injured and the sick.

The UN also informed the delegation that the armed opposition groups are not blocking the evacuation of civilians, and that this is unanimously recognized.”

Anna Nolan of The Syria Campaign said:

“Europe and the US must take action now to avert a massacre. It is inconceivable that the world’s most powerful countries cannot act to ensure the safe passage of 100,000 civilians along a four kilometre stretch of road. Is their one government that can honestly say it has used all the tools at its disposal to save these lives?”

ENDS.

Notes to editors:

– This morning in Gaziantep, Turkey, a solidarity delegation including French members of Parliament Cécile Duflot, Hervé Mariton and Patrick Mennucci as well as Jacques Boutault the Mayor of the 2nd district of Paris and lawyer Arie Alimi met the UN’s chief humanitarian leaders on Syria.

– Footage from Russian TV showing men who have fled from Eastern Aleppo being taken off by the Muhabarat [secret police] https://youtu.be/bYrgR9FiT1s