ROME/NEW YORK, 15 DECEMBER – The evacuation under UN surveillance of trapped civilians in Aleppo is a top priority for Italy, Foreign Minister Angelino Alfano said to the UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura in a telephone conversation, the first since his appointment as top diplomat of the new Italian government lead by Paolo Gentiloni.
Italy will continue to work for a negotiated political solution to the Syrian crisis, reiterated the minister, emphasizing the necessity that access be granted to the UN and the Red Crescent. Alfano also expressed “deep concerns” for the humanitarian emergency in eastern Aleppo and the “unacceptable costs in terms of human lives” that comes with it.
De Mistura confirmed that the evacuation operation began in eastern Aleppo and reaffirmed the necessity for the UN to monitor it. The evacuation will take place from the remaining enclave in Aleppo that is controlled by armed opposition groups, Jan Egeland, the Special Adviser on Syria, told reporters. It is a three-pronged evacuation: a medical evacuation of wounded and sick, as well as an evacuation of vulnerable civilians and of fighters.
The agreement has been made in direct talks between the parties, which the UN was only invited this morning to monitor in conjunction with the International Committee of the Red Cross, who are now present with representatives from the World Health Organization.
UN monitors will accompany those who are being evacuated, not only from east Aleppo but all the way to Idlib, and stand ready to care for them all the way into Turkey, if they chose that to be their final destination.
“UN teams and our partners are on the ground in Aleppo and Idlib, ready to provide assistance to people in need or urgent care. We are responding to the needs of the displaced where we have access: in Jibreen, west Aleppo and Hanano”, UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said at the press briefing at the UN Headquarters in New York today.
The UN and partners have provided 70 tons of medical supplies in Aleppo, providing treatment for up to 500 trauma cases; have activated eight mobile clinics; distributed a variety of WASH non-food items benefitting almost 40,000 displaced families; provided 20,000 IDPs with two hot meals a day and offered 19,000 women and children nutrition support, Dujarric stressed. (@annaaserafini)