The United Nations said on Tuesday (February 7) that January was the worst month for the besieged areas of Syria in terms of receiving humanitarian aid since March 2016.
“The Special Envoy for Syria (Staffan de Mistura) is alarmed at the failed humanitarian access during the month of January. Out of 21 requests for convoys to access a total of 914,000 people, only one convoy was delivered for 40,000 people,” U.N. spokeswoman Yara Sharif told a news briefing in Geneva.
Though the January ceasefire brokered by Russia and Turkey largely held, the U.N. Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura already voiced his concern at the time about humanitarian aid not getting through to besieged areas where food was running out.
Sharif added that on February 5, an inter-agency convoy delivered food and other supplies to the hard-to-reach town of Talbiseh in rural Homs, which was last reached by a convoy on September 19, 2016.
“While all of the formerly besieged neighborhoods of east Aleppo city have now become accessible to humanitarians, reports of unexploded ordinance and other remnants of war continue to hinder access and delivery of assistance to some areas. There is a grave concern that since 14 January an estimated 1,8 million people in Aleppo city and rural eastern Aleppo have been cut off from their main source of water, Khafsa, which is under ISIL (Islamic State) control,” Sharif told reporters.
The Syrian army signaled on Thursday (February 2) it would press on with operations against Islamic State northeast of Aleppo, in a veiled warning to Turkey which backs a separate military campaign in northern Syria.
The latest round of U.N. talks had been planned to begin in Geneva on February 8 but Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said last week that they had been postponed.
They have now been rescheduled for February 20, diplomats have told Reuters.