18 February 2016
Geneva, 18 Feb. 2016
My name is Jan Egeland, I am the Special Adviser of the Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura. I Co-chaired this second meeting of the task force for the humanitarian access for the International Support Group for Syria, and I am happy to say that we could report progress since the first meeting a week ago. Because in the last 24 hours 114 big trucks delivered life-saving humanitarian supplies to 80,000 people inside besieged areas and that is the beginning of the task that we were assigned to undertake by the International meeting of the Support group for Syria in Munich.
We discussed the next phase which is to reach all of the remaining besieged areas of Syria and we should be able to do such before the next meeting which will be in a week. We will also hope then to have progress in reaching the poor people inside of Deir Ezzor, which is, as you know, besieged by Islamic State. That can only be done by air drops and the World Food Programme has now a concrete plan of doing so, many of the member states support for such operation, and it had probably one of the several cases in this sub-group where the coaches Russia and the United States have had an excellent cooperation.
We recognize that reaching now 80,000 people in besieged areas, hopefully the rest of the 480,000 people in besieged areas before long it is only a first step because the main task of the access here is to reach all of the millions in hard to reach areas and Aleppo is one of the hard to reach areas, where we need to get access, and we need to get access now. we hope that the member states in the International Support Group for Syria will continue helping us as they have on the government side, as well as on the opposition groups side so that we can make further progress in access to the people of Syria which of course have waited too long for relief and which we have in many ways failed for too long as an international community.
Q. I would like to ask you, you say that you would like to reach all remaining besieged cities, how many are they?
JE: We the UN has been operating with a list of around 18 besieged areas, we hope to be able to reach the remaining areas in the next days really, so if we reach Deir Ezzor, there are 200,000 people there.
Q. When do you think the air drops will begin? Do you think access that was achieved today will be sustained?
JE: It has to be continuous access, what was done this time was to reach the areas with enough supplies for about a month it has to be continuously and it was only life-saving and my understanding is that some vital medical items were not getting through, so we need sustained and we need access for all the humanitarian supplies including medical. We hope to have progress on the air drops, and on access on all remaining areas including air drops.
JE: We seek monitoring of all of the things we bring in, all of what is given by the Syrian Red Crescent and the UN which were the main partners of this operation and will also in the future, work according to humanitarian principles and that means it has to be needs based. And of course the medical evacuation also has to happen according to humanitarian standards and we will also work on that.
Q. Just a word on the air drops, where will be their point of departure? Will they go from Jordan? Who is providing the air crafts?
JE: I think you should ask the World Food Programme and this is a complicated process , whether they are prepared to comment on the details of this. Of course it is a complicated operation and the first of its kind, ever.
Thank you very much.
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