The people in Aleppo are experiencing extreme hardship due to the catastrophic consequences of the fighting there. Humanitarian aid convoys from the World Food Programme (WFP) are at present still able to alleviate the suffering somewhat, at least in the west of the city – thanks in part to the support of Germany, the biggest donor. In eastern Aleppo, the situation remains precarious. Last weekend, Foreign Minister Steinmeier urgently called for a ceasefire lasting at least 48 hours and for humanitarian access under UN supervision.
Trapped by the fighting, defenceless against bombardments, cut off from basic supplies, the situation of the 300,000 people in Aleppo and environs is unspeakable. Many inhabitants from the worst affected eastern districts of the city have fled to the western side of town, which is currently still accessible to aid organisations. 30 lorries bringing rice, bulgur, beans, lentils, flour, sugar and vegetable oil have just arrived, thanks to the courageous efforts of the WFP, a UN aid organisation.
Germany as the prime donor
The aid delivery was made possible in part by Germany’s financial support for the World Food Programm. The German Government has become the largest donor, and as such has already made available more than 2 billion euros for humanitarian assistance in Syria. This emergency aid saves lives while efforts to find a lasting negotiated solution to the conflict continue. “We need a solution for all of Syria. There must be a ceasefire – for the people in Syria, but also so that we create a better starting point for a new round of talks in Geneva” Foreign Minister Steinmeier said at the weekend.
Dramatic situation in eastern Aleppo
The people in eastern Aleppo are still trapped by the fighting. There, too, Germany is helping by providing medical personnel, known as white helmets, and donating funds for the underground al-Quds hospital. But bombardments and the regime’s siege of the town are making the supply situation ever more desperate. New supplies such as food and medicines cannot at present get through to the people.
Ceasefire and humanitarian access
Foreign Minister Steinmeier has thus repeatedly called for a ceasefire lasting at least 48 hours and for the creation of humanitarian access to all districts of Aleppo. Russia has now announced such a ceasefire for next week. This would be a decisive step and would enable the people of Aleppo to obtain urgently needed medical assistance and clean water. It is important that the ceasefire is also respected by supporters of the armed opposition. In the run - up to the ceasefire, it is vital that the fighting should not escalate further and claim the lives of yet more innocent people in Aleppo. As a regime supporter, Russia bears a very special responsibility in this regard.