EU proposes new Aleppo aid plan, seeks safety guarantees

Federica Mogherini speaks to media at the doorstep during Informal Defence Ministers Meeting in Bratislava, on 27 September 2016. [European Union]

The European Union proposed a new humanitarian plan in coordination with the United Nations for the besieged half of the Syrian city of Aleppo yesterday (4 October), but said it required cooperation from all parties to the conflict.

The plan, called “An emergency humanitarian initiative for Aleppo” aims to deliver medical, water and food aid from EU stocks in government-held western Aleppo to up to 130,000 people in insurgent-controlled eastern Aleppo, and to evacuate urgent medical cases from the area.

East Aleppo was cut off in early July when Syrian government and allied forces took control of the main supply route in.

EU calls for 'immediate halt' to Aleppo fighting

The European Union on Thursday (18 August) urged an “immediate halt” to fighting in the Syrian city of Aleppo to allow medical and humanitarian aid to reach an estimated 1.5 million trapped civilians.

Subsequent attempts by Russia and the United States – which support opposing sides in the conflict – to implement successful ceasefires and get guarantees from all parties to ensure the safety of convoy staff have failed.

US, European allies call on Russia to save Syria truce

EU foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini joined the foreign ministers of France, Italy, Germany, the UK and the US on Saturday (24 September) in ordering Russia to take “extraordinary steps” to bring about a truce in its ally Syria. But renewed attacks by Syrian forces on Sunday prompted  stronger criticism by the US.

“The EU calls on all parties to urgently provide the necessary authorisations for aid delivery and for medical evacuations to proceed. It intends to work intensively in the next hours and days with the parties concerned to make this happen,” said a statement from EU foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini and EU Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management Christos Stylianides.

The EU said the operation must be neutral and carried out “under the sole responsibility of humanitarian organisations”.

A significant difficulty in previous attempts to deliver United Nations aid to east Aleppo and other areas was trying to ensure that Syrian government forces did not interfere.

The UN has previously criticised the Syrian government for restricting the content of aid deliveries, blocking access to areas of high need and removing items from some consignments.

In September an aid convoy west of Aleppo was hit and destroyed, killing around 20 people.

EU adds its voice condemning attack on Syria humanitarian convoy

The EU has added its voice to the international row over the deadly attack on a humanitarian convoy near Aleppo on Monday (19 September), but – unlike the USA – it did not point its finger at Russia.

The EU is also asking for medical evacuations to be allowed not only for eastern Aleppo, but for all areas under siege, including the rebel-besieged towns of Foua and Kefraya in Idlib and government-blockaded Madaya and Zabadani near the Lebanese border.

The EU statement also said it was mobilising a 25 million euro ($28 million) emergency aid package for its humanitarian partners in Aleppo and other priority areas of Syria.

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