The UN also warned that incoming cold weather will be a ‘real killer’ for residents of Aleppo.
The last remaining food rations are currently being handed out in Syria’s rebel-held eastern Aleppo and there will be nothing left to distribute next week without a resupply, the UN said Thursday.
United Nations aid convoys have not reached the besieged eastern part of Aleppo since July, when government forces cut off the last supply route.
“The reports we have now from within East Aleppo is that the last food rations are being distributed as we speak,” Jan Egeland, the head of a UN-backed humanitarian taskforce for Syria, told journalists.
Egeland insisted that, with winter approaching, the need to avoid mass starvation would force all sides – including the government, its key ally Russia and the rebels – to grant humanitarian access.
“I don’t think anybody wants a quarter of a million people to be starving in east Aleppo,” Egeland said, referring to the number of civilians the UN says are living under siege.
Egeland said he was confident access would be possible after four months of deadlock because “the consequences of no help and no supplies will be so catastrophic I cannot even see that scenario”.
The UN official also warned that the incoming cold weather will be “a real killer” and said the UN urgently needed approval for its eastern Aleppo relief plan.
The plan includes the delivery of both medical and food supplies as well as medical evacuations and deployment of medical personnel.
In addition to dwindling food rations in eastern Aleppo, doctors had reported suspicions that toxic chemicals found in munitions were making their way into food – possibly as a result of deliberate acts – after a rise in patients suffering a specific type of anaemia in October.
While the UN has mostly blamed President Bashar al-Assad’s government for blocking access to the battleground area, rebel commanders have reportedly also failed to provide essential security guarantees.