GENEVA, SWITZERLAND - United Nations officials warn civilians in eastern Aleppo are in a state of extreme desperation. They are calling for a humanitarian pause to allow safe passage of the seriously wounded out of the besieged Syrian city, while allowing food and medicine to reach the estimated one-half-million people trapped inside.
U.N. calls for a humanitarian pause have repeatedly been ignored and as time goes by, conditions for civilians trapped inside east Aleppo continue to deteriorate. U.N. food stocks have run out and the number of wounded unable to receive treatment continues to rise.
East Aleppo's hospitals are no longer functioning because Syrian and Russian forces have repeatedly bombed them. The U.N. special adviser for Syria, Jan Egeland, said at least 400 seriously wounded people need to be evacuated immediately so they can receive treatment.
"Operations are now happening in basements without anesthesia. Imagine having your child rushed to an unsanitary basement and then being operated upon without anesthesia. These are the conditions today in east Aleppo," he said.
Russia proposes opening four humanitarian corridors to allow the wounded to leave east Aleppo and aid convoys to enter the city. Egeland said the U.N. is discussing that possibility with Russia, the Syrian government and opposition groups to see if all parties will guarantee safe passage.
The U.N. reports government-controlled west Aleppo is now harboring some 400,000 internally displaced people as well as most of the nearly 30,000 people who recently have fled from the east. Egeland said the U.N. is scaling up its operations in the west and could be in a position from there to help civilians in the east.
"In west Aleppo, which would be half an hour, in one hour away with trucks, we have food for 150,00 people that we could bring to east Aleppo very easily and we have all of the medical equipment, medicine, etc. that they need in east Aleppo.It is pre-positioned. We have people there," he said.
Egeland said all that is missing is access to east Aleppo. He said that is now under discussion with Russia and the government of Syria.