The humanitarian situation in the Syrian city of Aleppo continues to worsen. The civilian population is facing the threat of disaster. In an interview for the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ), Foreign Minister Steinmeier said: “We urgently need to make sure that the people in Aleppo get help quickly.” Germany, which has provided just under a billion US dollars, is the largest donor of humanitarian aid for Syria this year.
Need for ceasefire and humanitarian access under UN auspices
Aleppo remains the epicentre of severe fighting. A reckless fight for power and influence in the region is being waged, riding roughshod over the people. Foreign Minister Steinmeier said there was a real risk of a new and terrible chapter in the Syrian tragedy.
Ensuring help for the people in the beleaguered city in the north of the country was therefore a matter of great urgency. The necessary aid supplies for the civilian population were only possible, however, if a ceasefire could be put in place and aid workers given access to those parts of Aleppo controlled by the warring sides. Humanitarian access “has to be assured under the auspices of the UN; it cannot be controlled autonomously by one side of the conflict”, Germany’s Foreign Minister told the FAZ. Nor would a ceasefire of three hours per day unilaterally declared be enough to “avert a humanitarian disaster”.
Germany is the largest donor of funding for humanitarian assistance
Having made available just under a billion US dollars, Germany is the largest donor of funding for humanitarian assistance in Syria this year. With an eye on the situation in Aleppo, Steinmeier told the FAZ that: “We are in contact with the United Nations on a daily basis to see where we can do more to help as soon as access is assured.” In Aleppo, among other things, Germany is providing support for hospitals, as well as the electricity supply, which is vital for drinking water pumps. The German Government is also helping the United Nations to provide foodstuffs. Germany is funding further humanitarian measures in other parts of Syria too, as well as in neighbouring countries.
Getting all stakeholders on board
“At the same time, we are talking to all our international partners in the interests of finding a way to sort out this catastrophic situation in Aleppo,”said Steinmeier, adding that he had also spoken to the US and Russian Foreign Ministers on the subject. “I made it clear to the latter that, as a supporter of the regime, Russia bore a particularly high level of responsibility with regard to the ceasefire and to humanitarian access,” continued the Foreign Minister in his FAZ interview.
The people in Syria have now been suffering for more than five years from the impact of the terrible civil war. Exercising military restraint and allowing humanitarian aid to reach people trapped in besieged areas are what is needed right now, Steinmeier said. The United States of America and Russia have been holding direct talks on de-escalating the situation in Syria for some time now. The current situation in and around Aleppo makes an agreement all the more urgent.