Aleppo, August 2: About 25,000 people, including more than 12,000 children, were displaced on Monday from a neighborhood in western Aleppo City by intense military attacks initiated by armed opposition groups, a United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) official in Syria said on Tuesday, calling on the warring parties to do their utmost to protect all civilians.
“Twenty-five thousand people have fled instantly last night from this area, with whatever they could leave the door with,” said Kieran Dwyer, Chief of Communications for UNICEF in Syria, in an interview with the UN News Service via Skype from Damascus. He said that armed opposition groups launched a major military offensive late on Monday afternoon and evening, attacking through the densely populated western part of Aleppo City. Intense fighting, involving airstrikes and the use of heavy weapons, artillery and mortars, has continued through the night, and throughout the day today, he added.
Dwyer said that in the affected neighbourhood, people already displaced multiple times had put up temporary shelters in uncompleted high-rise apartment buildings. UNICEF and its partners had been helping them to get water, food, health services, and education so that they could settle for the time being. Then, the fighting erupted, forcing many of them flee to parks, mosques, and wherever “they can feel a bit safe,” he said, adding that emergency kitchens have been set up, and for its part, UNICEF is running emergency water trucks.
Asked if more people would be displaced, he said that “we don’t know what the dynamic in fighting is going to result in. We are watching and responding at every turn.” Meanwhile, the eastern part of Aleppo city has been completely cut off from humanitarian aid since early July, he said, noting that UNICEF and all partners are calling for immediate access to the area, where 300,000 people, including over 120,000 children, are in need of nutrition, food, clean water, and health services.
Farhan Haq, the Secretary-General’s Deputy Spokesperson, added, an inter-agency convoy delivered food, nutrition, health, water, sanitation, hygiene and other emergency items for 71,000 people in need to the hard-to-reach area of Al Houla, in Homs governorate. Haq also said that the UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura visited Teheran on Sunday, and held discussions with Iranian Assistant Foreign Minister Hossein Jaberi Ansari on the means of pushing forward the political settlement to the crisis in Syria.