UN condemns "failure to respect cessation of hostilities" in besieged Syrian suburb

The United Nations strongly condemned on Tuesday the failure to cease hostilities and armed parties' disregard of guarantees of safe passage for a convoy sent to relieve the besieged city of Eastern Ghouta on Monday.

Jens Laerke, a spokesperson for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), said at a UN briefing here that the mission to deliver assistance to people in Duma, Eastern Ghouta, had to be cut short due to escalating violence and insecurity.

"The UN condemns, in the strongest terms possible, the lack of respect for the cessation of hostilities, and the disregard of armed parties for guarantees of safe passage for the convoy," said Laerke.

Laerke said the UN was urging all parties to fully implement Security Council Resolution 2401, which demands a cessation of hostilities, without delay, for at least 30 consecutive days throughout Syria.

It also demands unrestricted humanitarian access to those in need and unconditional medical evacuations of the critically sick and injured.

The OCHA spokesperson said that air strikes and shelling in Duma and Damascus had continued for hours while the inter-agency convoy was delivering food for 27,500 people, in addition to health and nutrition supplies.

"After nearly nine hours inside, the decision was made to leave for security reasons and to avoid jeopardizing the safety of humanitarian teams on the ground," said Laerke.

As a result, 14 of the 46 trucks in the convoy were not able to fully offload critical humanitarian supplies. Of the 14, four were partially offloaded.

OCHA said the team found a desperate situation for people who have endured months of lack of access to humanitarian aid.

Food for civilians was in short supply or prohibitively expensive and high rates of acute malnutrition were observed.

The last convoy to reach Duma with humanitarian assistance was on Nov. 15, 2017.






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