The United Nations called on Tuesday for an urgent ceasefire in the divided Syrian city of Aleppo, where it said two million people lack access to clean water, putting people, especially children, at risk of disease.
Access is needed to deliver food and medical supplies and for technicians to repair electricity networks that drive water pumping stations, which were heavily damaged in attacks last week.
“The UN is extremely concerned that the consequences will be dire for millions of civilians if the electricity and water networks are not immediately repaired,” it said in a statement, adding that, at minimum, a weekly 48-hour pause was needed.
It was signed by UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Syria Yacoub El Hillo, and Kevin Kennedy, UN regional humanitarian coordinator.
An estimated 250,000-275,000 people are trapped in eastern Aleppo following the closure of Castello road last month, the last remaining access route to the opposition-held part of the city, the statement said.
Insurgents effectively broke a month-long government siege of eastern Aleppo on Saturday. Their advance severed the primary government supply corridor running into the city from the south and raised the prospect that government-held western Aleppo might in turn become besieged by the insurgents.
This brought the total number of civilians in the city under “de facto fear of besiegement to over two million,” the UN said.
Later, pro-Damascus media reported that Syrian government forces and their allies had captured territory from rebels in southwestern Aleppo, closing off a rebel route into the east.
UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura and UN aid chief Stephen O’Brien are to brief the Security Council on the deteriorating situation in Aleppo on Tuesday.
Children at risk
A rebel fighter sits with his weapon in the artillery academy of Aleppo. (Reuters)