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Special Envoy for Syria to Join US-Russian Crisis Talks

  • Lisa Schlein

UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura talks with journalists as he arrives at a conference on the situation in Syria and Iraq held by Catholic charities operating in those regions, at the Vatican, Sept. 29, 2016.

UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura talks with journalists as he arrives at a conference on the situation in Syria and Iraq held by Catholic charities operating in those regions, at the Vatican, Sept. 29, 2016.

The United Nations says its Special Envoy for Syria, Staffan di Mistura, has been invited to join U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov for crisis talks on Syria Saturday in Lausanne, Switzerland.

Di Mistura’s deputy, Ramzy Ezzeldin Ramzy confirms the envoy will participate in the Kerry-Lavrov discussions. He is unwilling to speculate on the likely outcome of the meeting. But he acknowledges that it has been a bad week since Washington suspended talks with Russia on eastern Aleppo.

Aleppo" In this picture provided by the Syrian Civil Defense group known as the White Helmets, Syrian Civil Defense workers search through the rubble in rebel-held eastern Aleppo, Syria, Wednesday, Oct. 12, 2016.

Aleppo" In this picture provided by the Syrian Civil Defense group known as the White Helmets, Syrian Civil Defense workers search through the rubble in rebel-held eastern Aleppo, Syria, Wednesday, Oct. 12, 2016.

He says the situation in rebel-held eastern Aleppo remains critical and the violence has to be reduced.

“There has to be a stop to the bombardment, shelling and fighting, especially indiscriminate attacks against civilian centers, medical facilities, and heavily populated areas," said Ramzy. "This is the only way the U.N. can be able to discharge its responsibilities in the humanitarian field.”

Eastern Aleppo has been under sustained air attack from Syrian and Russian forces for weeks. This has made it impossible for U.N. humanitarian convoys to deliver desperately needed food, medicine and other relief supplies to the city’s 275,000 inhabitants. No aid has reached the city since early July.

Ramzy says the health situation in eastern Aleppo is dire. He says it is barely possible for the few remaining doctors to treat the many wounded who need help. He says hospitals, which have been bombed, are only partially functional and medical supplies are practically exhausted.

He says the United Nations is still working on a plan for medical evacuations so hundreds of sick and wounded can get the urgent medical care they cannot receive in Aleppo.

“I think more than 200 are in critical situations," said Ramzy. "But I also heard the figure of 400 children that need to be evacuated. So, I think we are still working on these figures. We do not have the final lists yet.”

Ramzy says everything hinges on achieving a cease-fire. Without this, he says there will be no medical evacuations out of eastern Aleppo, nor will there be any humanitarian aid entering this beleaguered city.

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