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Media Statement by the Office of the United Nations Special Envoy for Syria, Mr. Staffan de Mistura

27 August 2016

Last week, the Special Envoy for Syria appealed for a humanitarian pause of at least 48 hours to deliver United Nations humanitarian aid to Aleppo. He welcomed the response of the Russian Federation to support this proposal.

Since then, the UN developed an Aleppo emergency response plan and conveyed clear UN humanitarian requirements to all concerned and urged their engagement and support.

The UN has pre-positioned aid ready to be delivered to Aleppo during a 48 hour humanitarian pause, in order to reach 80,000 people in Eastern Aleppo and also to reach beneficiaries in Western Aleppo. The UN would also try to repair the electrical system servicing 1.8 million people. This pilot initiative is intended to set the stage for weekly pauses for humanitarian relief.

The Special Envoy is aware of concerns that have been expressed by the opposition. He however regrets the initial negative reaction in some quarters amongst them particularly as regards the use of Castello Road for the safe passage of aid, though he understands there are ongoing deliberations which he hopes will yield a positive consideration of the current UN plan.  The Special Envoy wishes to clarify that for operational and logistical reasons determined solely by the United Nations based on humanitarian considerations, the UN needs to be able to deliver this initial aid in the first instance through the Castello Road. The Special Envoy hopes that it will be possible to expand delivery routes for additional operations if feasible in due course.

The Russian Federation has confirmed that it is ready to ensure compliance with UN humanitarian response plan and has engaged the Syrian Government on this issue.

Efforts are continuing, particularly by the United States and other members of the Humanitarian Task Force, to ensure that all stakeholders are ready to commit to enable the UN to execute the humanitarian response plan.

The Special Envoy calls for all concerned to exert every effort so that, by this Sunday, 28 August 2016, we know where we stand.

He also stresses that there should be no escalation in areas adjacent or around the area of the pause.

The UN is ready to move. People are suffering and need assistance. Time is of the essence. All must put the civilian population of Aleppo first and exert their influence now.

Geneva (27 August 2016)