On Tuesday evening (13 December), Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier spoke with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov by telephone about the dramatic situation in Aleppo. The German Foreign Minister told his counterpart that the military and political backers of the Syrian regime bear responsibility for the humanitarian situation. Blick auf die dramatische Lage in Aleppo unterstützen.
A new situation in Aleppo – responsibility lies with those who support the regime
Now that Syrian troops are taking full control of Aleppo, a new situation has arisen, Foreign Minister Steinmeier said. In view of this, Steinmeier told his Russian counterpart that those who have been providing military and political support to the Syrian regime now bear full responsibility for the humanitarian situation. Now, there can be no more excuses.
The supporters of Syrian President Assad must immediately assume this responsibility, Steinmeier said. This means they must finally enable humanitarian access, as well as supply lines to the people in eastern Aleppo. Furthermore, medical evacuations must be permitted, and it must be ensured that those who are threatened by the regime, above all civil society representatives and the White Helmets, can be evacuated. Last but not least, supporters of the Assad regime must prevent excessive violence and acts of reprisal by the Syrian troops.
Currently in Aleppo, the “Syrian tragedy is approaching a sad record low point,” Steinmeier said at a press conference on Wednesday afternoon (14 December), speaking of a “humanitarian catastrophe“.
Germany provides additional funding for emergency aid
In view of recent developments, Foreign Minister Steinmeier made available five million euros to the UN Humanitarian Pooled Fund in Gaziantep, for the provision of emergency aid. This entity funds cross‑border measures that originate in Turkey and are destined for northern Syria. The primary partners for implementing these measures are Syrian NGOs, as well as the United Nations.
In 2016, the Federal Foreign Office provided more than 16.6 million euros in funding for humanitarian aid projects in eastern Aleppo. In addition, country‑wide aid projects are being supported that include substantial aid in the vicinity of Aleppo. In recent months, efforts have strongly focused on Aleppo itself.
No military solution to the war in Syria
At the EU Foreign Affairs Council on Monday (12 December), Steinmeier had clearly stated the following with regard to the situation in the entire country: “Regardless of how the situation in Aleppo unfolds, there will be no military solution to this conflict. Russia and Iran will have to admit this, as well.” He further insisted that a return to political talks is inevitable – the sooner the better. The fall of Aleppo “will not be the end of the war,” Steinmeier said on Wednesday afternoon (14 December). On Wednesday evening, Foreign Minister Steinmeier is scheduled to speak on the phone with UN Special Envoy for Syria de Mistura and with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif.