GENEVA - The United Nations confirms Syrian peace talks will resume February 20 in Geneva, amid reports of further obstruction by the Syrian government to allow the distribution of humanitarian aid.
The United Nations says it will send out invitations to the warring parties to attend the Syrian peace talks on February 8. The negotiations originally were set to begin that day, but were postponed until February 20 to allow a cease-fire to take hold, a basic demand by the opposition.
Special Envoy for Syria spokeswoman Yara Sharif says a joint group has been established to ensure an effective cease-fire takes place.
“The Special Envoy welcomed [Monday’s] follow-up meeting of the Joint Group and expressed the hope that their efforts will strengthen the cease-fire on the ground and thus contribute to the U.N.-led intra-Syrian negotiations in Geneva and a political settlement in line with Security Council resolution 2254,” Sharif said.
Syria’s six-year long civil war has killed hundreds of thousands of people and wounded many more. The country’s infrastructure has been largely destroyed. Millions of people within the country are in desperate need of food and other aid.
Sharif says U.N. efforts to get humanitarian access to people in need continues to be frustrated by the Syrian government. She says January marked the worst month since March 2016.
“Out of 21 requests for convoys to access a total of 914,000 people, only one convoy was delivered for 40,000 people,” Sharif said. "... The Special Envoy calls for unconditional, unimpeded and sustained access to all 4.72 million people in hard-to-reach locations across the country, including the more than 600,000 in besieged locations.”
Sharif says residents of the formerly besieged neighborhoods of east Aleppo now are accessible. But she says humanitarians are unable to deliver aid to some areas because unexploded ordinance and other remnants of war make it too dangerous for them to enter.